Andy McDonald

Blues haven’t been this healthy in two years


It might be a bit much to call the St. Louis Blues “100 percent” healthy. That’s very much a relative term at this point in a grueling 82-game regular season.

Still, relatively speaking, Jeremy Rutherford points out that this the first time the Blues will enjoy their full roster’s strength since March 3 … 2010. That’s a whopping 160-game span.

Of course, this is assuming that a bundle of Blues return on Saturday won’t have any setbacks. Andy McDonald, Roman Polak and Matt D’Agostini are the players expected to come back to the fold. (Polak has been sidelined especially long, but McDonald is likely the biggest impact player.)

Obviously, the Blues have managed just fine while piecing together that roster as they currently lead the league with 106 standings points. Still, T.J. Oshie marveled at an already-deep team’s staggering depth after watching everyone in action during practice.

“I was in the middle of one of the drills (at Friday’s practice) … we were doing 5 on 5 and it seemed like every line was battling with every line,” Oshie said. “It wasn’t one line dominating another. I looked over at (Carlo Colaiacovo) and I said, ‘We’ve got a really deep team when everybody is out here.'”

Want an idea of what the Blues might look like at “100 percent” strength? Here are Rutherford’s expected line combinations for Saturday:


Alex Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-David Perron
Vladimir Sobotka-Jason Arnott-Jamie Langenbrunner
Matt D’Agostini-Scott Nichol-Chris Stewart

Extras: B.J. Crombeen, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Chris Porter


Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell-Roman Polak

Extras: Kent Huskins, Ian Cole


Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Naturally, Ken Hitchcock faces his latest coaching challenge in mixing all these “new” ingredients properly, but that’s likely a good problem to have. It’s not a very familiar one for St. Louis, though.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
Leave a comment

Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
Leave a comment

You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

1 Comment

The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
Leave a comment

One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.