Tonight, the 1-0 Florida Panthers continue their season-opening road trip with a stop in Missouri. Jason McAdams from SB Nation's St. Louis Game Time traded off a few questions with us; here's what he had to say.
haven't seen the Blues on ice in almost two calendar years (November 17, 2011). We got together with St. Louis Game Time
to ask a few questions about what we can expect to see tonight.
1. The Blues cut Ryan Whitney loose just a bit ago, and Florida is now rolling him in their third pairing. What didn't the Blues see in him, and could it come back to bite them tonight?
It wasn't so much as what the Blues didn't see in Ryan Whitney as much as it is how much faith they have in their current blue line. He was only brought in to fill in for Alex Pietrangelo during his long and arduous 2-day training camp hold-out. Once Petro was signed, Whitney was going to have to move mountains to convince Hitchcock and Armstrong that he'd be a better choice than the younger and cheaper Ian Cole
, and even then he would've earned himself a tour of the NHL's press box buffets. The Blues defense is the deepest and probably best in the league - our third-best defenseman will likely end up on Team Canada come February - so as much as we wish him the best, the only way we'd regret letting him go is if we suffer multiple injuries at the same time.
2. Two seasons ago, your top two netminders combined for an incredible 14 shutouts. Does your in-goal tandem look up to a repeat performance or some regression to the mean?
Seeing as the 2011-12 Blues were the first time in history that two goalies on the same team recorded six+ shutouts, a repeat performance is hard for even the biggest optimist to expect. That said, there's no reason to believe that Jaroslav Halak
and Brian Elliott
can't rebound from their inconsistent 2013 to contend for the Jennings Trophy once again.
However, the real question marks above both their heads surround their playoff performances. Rest assured that Elliott was hardly the reason the Blues have lost to the Kings
the last two postseasons, but he didn't leave either series looking particularly good. Has he turned back into a pumpkin for good?
As for Halak, when he's been healthy he's been pretty consistently above average, sometimes borderline dominant. He just needs to prove he can stay healthy. Both are in the last year of their contracts, and with Jake Allen
waiting in the wings it's almost unthinkable that both will be back in St. Louis next year, so both have plenty to play for.
3. Brenden Morrow is playing for his third team in his last 17 games. How likely is he to: a) find a permanent home and b) return to the form that saw him score 74 points in 82 games for the Stars five years ago?
The days of Morrow's 74 points in a season are long gone especially if he makes St. Louis his home for the remainder of his career. Just looking at the trend over time, the 07-08 season was the peak of his career. After that there is a definite slow decline in point production. Given his age and the style of Blues hockey, I expect we could see 25-30 points from him this season and I am okay with that.
4. Who's the guy Florida needs to most watch out for tonight?
Everyone? Seriously. As Laura wrote in the Preds game day post, the Blues score by committee. Hitch likes to constantly roll out line after line. For a while last season, the Blues were relying upon their 4th line to score the goals needed to win games. Since this is only the 2nd game into the season, it is hard to pick out who has the hot streak right now. That being said, I would keep my eye on Pietrangelo sniping from the point, and Oshie driving the net. I think Oshie is hungry for goals this season and he has both the speed and the moves.
Thanks to the always sublime St. Louis Game Time
for the inside goods. Tune in here later for your game preview around 3 PM, and the LBC GameThread an hour prior to faceoff.