Blues Brothers Go West

Brad Winchester & David Backes. Photo Courtesy of Brei Bird Photography

Today’s BlueNotes:

Ty Conklin (starting) is 12 minutes from having played 10,000 minutes as an NHL goaltender.

Vladimir Sobotka 3 minutes away from having 100 career penalty minutes.

According to a press release from the St. Louis Blues, forwards Phillip McRae and Ryan Reaves have been called up from Peoria, while T.J. Hensick has been sent down.

If the McRae name sounds familiar, it should. This 6’2 200 pound version is the son of former Blues big man Basil McRae, who was with the team from 1992-1996.  The 20 year-old has 11 goals and 11 assists in 37 games for the Rivermen. Don’t ever accuse the NHL, St. Louis Blues or Anaheim Ducks of lacking a sense of humor. The St. Louis native will make his debut with his parents in the stands against. If you’ve never seen Basil McRae and Mike Modano in the Mighty Ducks (movie), I’m sorry for your loss.

No little pup on the second call-up, Reaves is 6’1 and 225 pounds with 91 penalty minutes in 33 games. Again, without skipping a beat the St. Louis Blues official site is quick to point out that Reaves served 15 minutes in the penalty box against the Blues 5-1 victory over the Ducks on October 11th. Two great ideas from the St. Louis Blues- on the offensive side, the physical side and the can we get the team to have a little laugh at themselves while away from home, side?

Throw the Puck:

Anaheim Ducks are seventh in the conference with 45 games played (more than any team) and 50 points). The St. Louis Blues are now 12th in the conference with 41 games played and 46 points.

Breathe deep. Tonight the St. Louis Blues start off a western road trip that could garner rather hefty gains. This year the Blues have a 3-1-0 record against their next three opponents (Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose). Only difference? Those games were with-in the confines of Scottrade Center. These are on the road. Not making this easier, the Anaheim Ducks have the third best home record going 15-7-1 for 31 points, while the St. Louis Blues have the 27th worse road record at 6-8-4 for 16 points.

Ducks to watch? Goaltender Jonas Hiller (one of the Ducks’ All-Stars) is coming off back-to-back shutouts (Just over 60 saves between the two) and in the last month he’s gone 9-3-0 while dropping his GAA to 1.45. Teemu Selanne (should you ever not watch him?) has five points in five games and is three away from hitting 1,300 points. Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry (the other Duck All-Star) are having monster seasons. Ryan (including 2 goals in his last two games) has 18 goals and 31 points in 45 games while Perry has 21 goals and 45 points in 45 games. On defense, watch for Cam Fowler who has both 21 points and is a -7.

Thinking about the Blues’ offensive woes and facing a hot- handed goaltender tonight, I thought about the following stats:

At the half-way break the following players are on pace to break career or last season’s records.

David Backes (All-Star) is in sight of 66 points (12-21-33) – His career high is 54 points.

Alex Steen is in sight of 58 points (14-15-29) and his career high is 47 points.

Matt D’Agostini is in sight of 42 points (10-11-21) and career high is 21.

Alex Pietrangelo (18)  and Vladimir Sobotka (18) have already hit new career highs in points.

Leaving out the obvious (missing the injured), there are those that are on the ice that could really step up and be of assistance. Certain Blues have been missing in action while healthy but have had some tides turn their way. First, it is great to see Brad Boyes on a three game point streak (3 points in 4 games). If he were to build on this momentum and put more shots on net or even continue to put them where a teammate could do so, it would be a huge boost for the team. Erik Johnson has three points and 15 shots on goal in his last eight games. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but every mountain is climbed one step at a time and that it is a big step. Keep climbing, EJ, please keep climbing.

The constant factors still remain to take the Blues against Hiller. David Backes has 5 points in 5 games, Steen has 5 points in 4 games and Brad Winchester is on a career long three game long goal streak. Last, but certainly not least. Matt D’Agostini is coming off, what I think, is one of the greatest performances I’ve seen from him yet. From the grittiest of assists to one of the prettiest of goals. Although he had a bit of a production drop off for a short time, he has come back in a big way when the Blues have needed him most. Defensively- watch for Pietrangelo, Brewer and Jackman. Pietrangelo, really beginning to hone in on this skill as of late.

Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Basil Mcrae, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, Jonas Hiller, St. Louis Blues, Teemu Selanne, Ty Conkiln, Vladimir Sobotka

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