Tag: Alexander Steen

T.J. Oshie, Marco Scandella

Will the Blues make a big move this week?


We all wondered what would happen to the St. Louis Blues if they suffered another first-round loss.

And then they went ahead and did it.

While the fallout in St. Louis ultimately didn’t include firing the coach, we may find out in the next few days if there’s a significant trade to be made, possibly one involving a forward.

From the Post-Dispatch:

The Blues ranked No. 5 in the NHL during the regular season with 2.92 goals a game, but among the 16 playoff teams, they were No. 9 at 2.33.

The trio of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie teamed up for 177 points in the regular season but went silent in the postseason, combining for just eight. 

It’s the reason that entering this week’s NHL draft, a time on the calendar in which several significant trades are made around the league, the possibility of the Blues moving one of their household names shouldn’t be dismissed.

In addition to their playoff performances, Steen, Backes, and Oshie are also trade candidates because of their contracts. Backes is only signed for one more year before he can become an unrestricted free agent; Steen and Oshie have just two more years before they can do the same. (For that matter, ditto for Patrik Berglund.)

Perhaps another position to watch is goaltending. Though Ken Hitchcock called it “the least of our problems,” it wasn’t exactly a strength in the postseason. Jake Allen finished with a .904 save percentage in making all six starts. And that was after Brian Elliott was supposed to be the starter, but had the opportunity yanked at the last minute.

Think Elliott was happy about that? This is a guy that’s been waiting a long time to go into the postseason as the number one. Not saying he wants out, but for a team looking for a veteran netminder with an affordable cap hit ($2.5 million), he could make sense to target in a trade.

All that being said, GM Doug Armstrong insisted in April that he was wary of making a move just for the sake of making a move.

“What I don’t want to do is hurt the franchise long-term,” he said. “I don’t want to do something that is going to be a good headline tomorrow, and that we’re going to regret for five or six years.”

So far, Armstrong hasn’t made headlines, other than retaining Hitchcock and telling Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed.

We’ll see if that changes this week.

Video: Tarasenko continues unreal run with sixth goal on nine shots

Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Tarasenko has been amazing when it’s come to playoff hockey. Although the Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Tarasenko found the back of the net four times in that six game series. Now 23 years old, he’s been doing even better against the Wild in 2015.

Tarasenko found the back of the net for the sixth time in the first round series early in Game 5 tonight. What makes that feat even more remarkable is the fact that he’s only needed nine shots on goal to reach that total.

Although to be fair, Alexander Steen deserves a lot of the credit for Tarasenko’s latest marker, as you can see below:

Tarasenko has been one of the main reasons for the Blues’ success in 2014-15 as he scored 37 goals and 73 points in 77 regular season contests.

As strong a series as he’s having though, it hasn’t been enough to put Minnesota on the ropes. The series was tied at 2-2 going into tonight’s contest and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella responded to Tarasenko’s goal roughly three minutes later.

Video: Wild hold off late push from Blues

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues - Game One

The St. Louis Blues made a game of it, but will lament a slow start in their loss to the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their first-round series on Thursday.

It wasn’t until the third period that the Blues finally made a substantial push. Twice in the final 20 minutes, they got to within a goal but couldn’t find the equalizer. Minnesota buried a pair of empty net goals, with Mikael Granlund scoring the winner with 1:13 remaining in regulation time, as the Wild came away with a 4-2 victory and 1-0 series lead.

Just 14 seconds after Granlund gave Minnesota a two-goal cushion, Alexander Steen provided the Blues a faint glimmer of hope, perhaps catching the Wild off guard and cutting its lead to one. It set up for an interesting finish when this game looked like it was over just before that.

Again, the Blues just couldn’t tie it. Jason Pominville cemented the win into the empty net with 20 seconds remaining.

Devan Dubnyk, making his first career playoff start after a remarkable regular season performance following his mid-season trade from Arizona to Minnesota, wasn’t overly busy until the third period, but he stopped 19 of 21 shots faced for the win.

It appeared for a while like Matt Dumba’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal would turn out to be the winner. He gave the Wild a two-goal lead on a power play blast that beat Jake Allen glove side early in the second period.

NBC, NBCSN will combine to air three games today

Zdeno Chara

NBC and NBCSN will conclude its coverage of the 2014-15 regular season by airing three of Saturday’s games. They are:

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings

Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBC (Depending on your region) or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

The San Jose Sharks went into this season hungry for redemption after Los Angeles overcame a 3-0 series deficit in the first round of the 2014 playoffs to eliminate them. Meanwhile, the Kings were going for its third Stanley Cup championship in the span of four years.

In the end neither squad will get what they want as they enter today’s contest without any hope of making the playoffs. So with the possibility of a 2015 postseason rematch gone, these two teams will have to settle for one final regular season contest.

“Both teams still have something to play for – they’re our rival,” San Jose’s Logan Couture told CSN Bay Area. “I’m sure the building will have some Sharks fans in it. We’re going to want to go out strong, and they’re going to want to go out strong, too.”

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues

Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBC (Depending on your region) or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

The St. Louis Blues are entering the day with a chance to wrestle the top seed in the Western Conference away from the Anaheim Ducks. Doing so would mean opening the playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets instead of the Minnesota Wild or Chicago Blackhawks. Winning the Conference title would also of course guarantee that St. Louis would get the home-ice advantage in each series until the Stanley Cup Final.

The Wild are going into this game with control of the first Wild Card seed, but they have an opportunity to take the third Central Division seed away from Chicago. Minnesota winning this afternoon would put the pressure on Chicago tonight to secure at least one point tonight or slide in the standings.

On an individual level, Blues forwards Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko will both return today from their respective lower-body injuries. They’re two of St. Louis’ top-three scorers, so getting them back before the playoffs is huge.

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBCSN or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

Boston has made the playoffs for seven straight seasons and claimed the Presidents’ Trophy in 2013-14. Despite that, the Bruins have been wildly inconsistent this season and are consequently entering the day with a mediocre 41-27-13 record.

Boston is one point behind Pittsburgh in the battle for a Wild Card spot (something not many people would have predicted going into the campaign) and the Penguins control the tiebreaker ROW. That means a consolation point won’t be enough for the Bruins tonight; they have to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to even have a shot of making the playoffs.

Before the game starts, the Bruins will likely be watching Ottawa play Philadelphia (12:30 p.m. ET). A win by Ottawa, which controls the first Wild Card seed, wouldn’t knock Boston out of the playoff race, but it would lessen its odds. If Ottawa loses in regulation time to the Flyers, then the Bruins have the comfort of knowing that they will make the playoffs as long as they win tonight. If Ottawa wins or gets a consolation point, then the Bruins will need the lowly Buffalo Sabres to beat Pittsburgh in order for Boston to have a chance.

This game has some significance for Tampa Bay too. The Lightning currently hold the second seed in the Atlantic Division, but if they win and Montreal loses on Saturday, then Tampa Bay will take the division title.

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks, Blues battle in tight Central Division race

David Backes, Jonathan Toews

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues at the United Center, with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

With just a week worth of games left, the battle for the Central Division title is fierce. Nashville leads the pack with 104 points in 79 contests while St. Louis and Chicago are just one and two points back respectively and have each participated in one less game than Nashville. So clearly the stakes will be high tonight and on Thursday when the Blue and Blackhawks battle (Thursday’s rematch will also air on NBCSN).

“It’s amazing,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You play all these games and it always comes down to the last week or the last game. We’re both chasing Nashville. We’re both (trying) to finish in first place overall. We know (Sunday’s game is) a big one and we’re excited for it.”

“Twice in the next three games — huge games for us,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They’re four-point games with little time to make up ground. We know they’re meaningful (because) there’s still a lot to be sorted out.”

Even the winner of the Central Division will likely face a difficult first round opponent given that the Minnesota Wild – which are 26-7-3 during goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s run – and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings currently occupy the two Wild Card seeds. However, the Western Conference being that tight only adds to the importance of possessing Game 7 home-ice advantage as deep into the playoffs as possible.

It certainly has been a factor when Chicago has played St. Louis in recent years as the Blues haven’t won in regulation in the United Center over their last 13 regular season and three playoff contests. That’s not all St. Louis will have to overcome tonight as Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen are both dealing with lower-body injuries. Those are the Blues top two scorers, but their absence hasn’t stopped St. Louis from outscoring its adversaries 11-6 over its last two games.

Meanwhile Chicago, which is without Patrick Kane (clavicle), has won four straight contests. One of those winning streaks will end tonight and the fight for the Central Division will draw closer to its conclusion.