Monthly Archives: April 2015

St. Louis Blues Once Again Make An Early Exit

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COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Blues have been heavy favorites for the past two seasons to go all the way and win the Stanley Cup. Both years, the Blues have made a hasty exit from the playoffs, not winning a series. Fans and commentators were excited this post-season when the Blues faced off against the Minnesota Wild. Many thought the Blues would have a tough series but would prevail in the end. That is until small mistakes began to add up and the offense crumbled.

History did, in a sense, repeat itself once again.

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Peter Chiarelli hired as GM and President of Hockey Operations for Edmonton Oilers

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The Edmonton Oilers, Friday afternoon, named Peter Chiarelli General Manager and President of Hockey Operations. Chiarelli replaces former GM Craig MacTavish, who will remain with the organization. His role has yet to be determined. MacTavish had been a GM for the Oilers since the 2013-14 season. Kevin Lowe was also re-assigned from the hockey ops department but remains a vice chairman for the Oilers Entertainment Group.

The Oilers finished 28th in League standings and missed the postseason for the ninth straight season. However, they did win the 2015 NHL Draft lottery, which gives them a chance to draft Connor McDavid of the OHL’s Eerie Otters.

Peter Chiarelli was formerly a GM of the Boston Bruins, who too had missed the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, resulting in his firing from Boston.

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Blues Explode in Game 2, Fade In Game 3

COMMENTARY | | The St. Louis Blues made a strong comeback in Game 2 after an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Wild in Game 1. The Blues have not been solid in the playoffs in years past, but are ever hopeful to win a playoff series.

Blues fans were in agony after two empty-net goals were scored by the Wild in Game 1, contributing to their team’s 4-2 loss. The Blues redeemed themselves to their fans in Game 2, winning 4-1. That redemption only lasted a short time before the Blues were bested in Game 3 by a score of 3-0.

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Blues Outplayed By The Wild In Game 1

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COMMENTARY | St. Louis fans were hyped up prior to the start of Game 1; there was a feeling of expectancy within the air at Scottrade Center. Players and coaches claimed to be ready to get out there and prove that they could play a strong hockey game during a playoff series. There was just one little problem – the Minnesota Wild were hungrier and played a better hockey game than the Blues.

Former Blues forward and fan favorite, Chris Stewart, came back to St. Louis as a Wild and he had something to prove. Although Stewart did not score any points, he made his presence known when on the ice with strategic checks and vocal encouragement for his team.

Rookie Goaltending

Rookie goaltenders, appearing in their first playoff game, dominated the game. While the Blues’ Jake Allen was handed the loss, 2 of the 4 goals allowed by the Blues happened when Allen was not even on the ice. Wild goaltender, Devan Dubnyk, was solid in goal and showed no signs of losing his composure when the Blues rallied in the third period.

Having solid, unshakable goaltenders during the playoffs is essential for any team to win hockey games and advance towards the finals. Both Allen and Dubnyk showed their respective teams that they can handle the pressure of playoff hockey, but can they both keep the momentum going and carry their team to a series win? This will be the series to watch and analyze their stamina as well as their confidence in themselves and their teammates.

Out Played

Fans cannot even blame bad calls from the referees as the reason their beloved Blues bombed in Game 1. True there were a few iffy calls, but find a game where that is not the case. The truth of the matter is that the Wild out strategized the Blues, played harder and dug deeper to pull off the win. Overall the Blues took a long time to find a groove of any kind and in playoff hockey that can spell disaster.

Blues players did not look prepared for Game 1 and they looked unsure of how to handle the determined Wild team. The Blues were able to defeat the Wild in their last game of the season and it may be that they felt too comfortable and confident in their ability to beat them again.

The most painful thing to watch during a playoff game is the empty-net goals that occur when a team, in desperation, pulls their goalie for the extra attacker. The Blues were burned not once, but twice during Game 1 when head coach, Ken Hitchcock, pulled Allen in the final minutes of the game. He was hoping for a last-minute miracle from his offense, but what he got instead was a push from the Wild. To lose a playoff game by one goal is difficult for any team, but to lose because of two empty-net goals is almost too much to swallow.

Game 2 Changes

The Blues need to step it up in Game 2 and come out strong from the first puck drop. The Wild had something to prove in Game 1 and came out with a vengeance. The Blues now have something to prove in Game 2. It will be interesting to see if Hitchcock mixes up his lines to try and get more offense going or if he will stick with what has worked in the regular season.

The Wild’s head coach, Mike Yeo, has found a winning combination and is showing that the Wild can be a contender. Now, it is the Blues’ turn to step it up and prove to St. Louis and the NHL that they will not once again fizzle in the first round of the playoffs.

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Peter Chiarelli Fired as Boston GM

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The Boston Bruins fired now-former General Manager Peter Chiarelli Wednesday morning after nine seasons.

Bruins President Cam Neely said that the search for a replacement will begin immediately. No interim GM has yet been named. Current assistant GMs, player personnel staff and coaching staff will remain for the time being.

Chief executive officer Charlie Jacobs and Neely are scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday at 3 PM ET at TD Garden.

The Bruins missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season for only the second time during Chiarelli’s tenure after finishing 41-27-14 with 96 points. They were two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card spot into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

They’d also missed the playoffs in Chiarelli’s inaugural season as GM in 2006-07, when he was named the seventh General Manager in Bruins history on May 26, 2006.

His overall regular season record as Bruins GM is 386-233-85, his teams passing the 100-point mark four times and qualifying for the playoffs for seven straight years from ’08-’14. He also served as an assistant GM and won a gold medal for Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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The Playoffs: Just How Far Can The Tampa Bay Lightning Go?

As we enter the Playoffs of the 2014/15 NHL Season, the tension levels grow for the fans of the teams involved. Some teams are used to the stress and strain the Playoffs hold, for example the Detroit Redwings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who in recent years have regularly made them; yet for other franchises, such as the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames, this is a new experience for most of their players, as they’ve not been as successful in recent times.

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NHL HAIKU – PLAYOFF PREVIEW EDITION

The postseason’s here!

Check out each first round series

Rendered in haiku.

The Penguins Go to Gotham (Penguins at Rangers)*

All O and no D

Makes Pittsburgh vulnerable

Season champs should roll

Canadian Civil War, East Edition (Senators at Canadiens)*

Hammond versus Price

Each game could be a shutout

That’s the Sens’ best hope

The Yzerman Cup (Red Wings at Lightning)*

Bolts’ potent offence

Should own Detroit’s goaltenders

This one could be quick

Lamplighters’ Ball (Islanders at Capitals)*

Tons of emotion

Plus Ovi v. Tavares

Expect a barn-burner

The Teemu Cup (Jets at Ducks)*

The Jets are so cute!

Everyone’s rooting for them!

They’re gonna get crushed

Midwest Mayhem (Wild at Blues)*

The Blues’ strong skaters

Meet Minny’s sizzling goalie

Dubnyk will decide

Divisional Format Special (Blackhawks at Predators)*

Tough draw for Nashville

Can injured Kane still play hard?

If so, Preds are dead

Canadian Civil War, West Edition (Flames at Canucks)*

Canucks lucked out here

New format spared them the Hawks

Still might need 7

How Many Games Will the Winners Need?

5: Rangers, Lightning

7: Blackhawks, Canucks, Blues

6: Habs, Ducks, Isles

*

Add to each preview:

“Unless a goalie gets hot –

Then all bets are off.”

All You Really Need To Know

Repeat after me:

“Goalies, special teams are key.”

Now you’re an expert!

 

Follow Melissa on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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