DougArmstrong

Any GMs looking to send 50-goal scorers to St. Louis, give Doug Armstrong a buzz

10 Comments

After scoring just 10 goals in a six-game playoffs ouster, the St. Louis Blues know they need more offense.

But, as GM Doug Armstrong points out, offense isn’t easy to come by.

“This is a public cry that for any GMs that have 50-goal scorers that they want to send to St. Louis, give me a call,” Armstrong joked (we think) to the Belleville News-Democrat. “This doesn’t happen, you have to deal in reality.

The reality is with free agency the way it is now, teams tie up those elusive top-end goal scorers. They draft them. Malkin, Crosby, Tavares, Stamkos were drafted by those teams.”

The Blues have now been bounced in consecutive series by the Kings, and a lack of goalscoring has been a major theme throughout (in 2012, the Blues scored just six times in a four-game sweep.)

In his season-ending remarks, head coach Ken Hitchcock cryptically referred to needing more “from people that are homegrown,” and “the boys we built around.”

One could assume Hitch was referring to players St. Louis drafted that failed to produce this series: David Perron (no goals), Patrik Berglund (one goal) and possibly captain David Backes, a two-time 30 goal scorer that now has just four tallies in 19 playoff games.

That said, there are other culprits as well.

Two “un-homegrown” players — Andy McDonald and Chris Stewart — were virtual no-shows in the playoffs, combining for one point.

Stewart was the team’s leading goalscorer during the regular season (with 18) and McDonald led the Blues in playoff scoring last year with 10 points in nine games.

So no surprise their disappearing acts threw the Blues off course.

That said, it doesn’t sound as though St. Louis is planning a roster shakeup. If the words from Hitchcock and Armstrong suggest anything, the Blues will simply demand more of the players they currently have.

“It’s incumbent upon the players in this room to find out how to produce when the lights are the brightest, to score those goals,” he said. “If I can find a guy that can come in and help us score goals, certainly we’re gong to look at doing it.

“But to think that player’s out there and teams just give them away and say ‘Geez, it’s St. Louis’s time to win, we’ll give you Ovechkin.’… You’ve got to deal in reality.”

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.