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12-09-2011, 04:22 PM
  #26
Blues88
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Originally Posted by 2 Minute Minor View Post
I'm not convinced Doughty is better, when comparing them today. But I don't watch Doughty in every game....and I got a strong negative impression from his playoff performance.
I've never had a strong urge to compare Doughty and Petro because they have opposite styles.

This is a lopsided comparison obviously, but I always watched Doughty and compared his play to Johnson. Both are more physical defenseman who like to rush the puck.

Pietrangelo had a big year last season, but he played second pairing minutes for half of it. This season he's a workhorse and is drawing all the tough minutes. People may knock him because peers like Karlsson and Doughty are showing more offensive flair, but they also take more risks in transition and pinch in more aggressively. Something should be said for the state of the PP this season, as I'm sure if it wasn't so consistently ineffective Petro would have more points.

What's nice about our D corps is the depth. Petro can play a game he's comfortable with and he does a tremendous job of breaking up plays, winning puck battles, and breaking the forwards out to go up ice. We have the benefit of having another offensively gifted D-man on the second pairing and also on the PP. Russell has been a nice addition as well and is another reason we are better in transition and a quick counter attack team now.

Not too many teams in the conference have the kind of balance the Blues do on the back end. Pretty neat.

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12-09-2011, 04:42 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Blues88 View Post
I've never had a strong urge to compare Doughty and Petro because they have opposite styles.

This is a lopsided comparison obviously, but I always watched Doughty and compared his play to Johnson. Both are more physical defenseman who like to rush the puck.

Pietrangelo had a big year last season, but he played second pairing minutes for half of it. This season he's a workhorse and is drawing all the tough minutes. People may knock him because peers like Karlsson and Doughty are showing more offensive flair, but they also take more risks in transition and pinch in more aggressively. Something should be said for the state of the PP this season, as I'm sure if it wasn't so consistently ineffective Petro would have more points.

What's nice about our D corps is the depth. Petro can play a game he's comfortable with and he does a tremendous job of breaking up plays, winning puck battles, and breaking the forwards out to go up ice. We have the benefit of having another offensively gifted D-man on the second pairing and also on the PP. Russell has been a nice addition as well and is another reason we are better in transition and a quick counter attack team now.

Not too many teams in the conference have the kind of balance the Blues do on the back end. Pretty neat.
And to think we could have Nikitin too

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12-09-2011, 05:37 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by Sample XIX View Post
And to think we could have Nikitin too
UUGH that was just a dumb trade

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12-09-2011, 05:54 PM
  #29
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We were running Niki out against some tough competition and he slumped a bit early in the season so every one was down on him. We always projected him to be a decent all around second pair guy but on a Columbus team who was lacking even second pair talent he suddenly looks amazing. If you look at the talent on defense of both teams, we were probably too down on him and CBJ is a bit too up right now. Regardless its not like we were going to get anything major for him and Cole looks like he has the talent that would of pushed Niki off the depth chart anyway so in the end no big deal.

As for Petro he is doing really well on both ends of the ice and is still developing his all around game. For whatever reason I don't notice him do anything great both defensively and offensively the same game but he does have more of a subtle style of play. Would be nice to get him a top end partner like Yandle or something to really let him push himself but it might end up being a few more years before that opportunity shows up.

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12-09-2011, 05:59 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by Dr Robot View Post
We were running Niki out against some tough competition and he slumped a bit early in the season so every one was down on him. We always projected him to be a decent all around second pair guy but on a Columbus team who was lacking even second pair talent he suddenly looks amazing. If you look at the talent on defense of both teams, we were probably too down on him and CBJ is a bit too up right now. Regardless its not like we were going to get anything major for him and Cole looks like he has the talent that would of pushed Niki off the depth chart anyway so in the end no big deal.

As for Petro he is doing really well on both ends of the ice and is still developing his all around game. For whatever reason I don't notice him do anything great both defensively and offensively the same game but he does have more of a subtle style of play. Would be nice to get him a top end partner like Yandle or something to really let him push himself but it might end up being a few more years before that opportunity shows up.
It wont be easy to get Yandle out of Phoenix but the Blues does have a potential one in Shatten.

Anyway, I think Pie-Nikitin would look better than Pie-Cole for now. As for the future who know who will be better out of Nikitin or Cole

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12-09-2011, 06:24 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by Sample XIX View Post
And to think we could have Nikitin too
I think Nikitin's biggest issue here was communication. Now that he is paired with a player that speaks Russian it makes communication much easier for him now.

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12-09-2011, 06:30 PM
  #32
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Definitely didn't mean to imply Yandle specifically, I was just flipping through hockey stuff earlier and saw his name so I used him as an example of a first pairing guy. I think Niki and Cole will be about the same, Cole has been doing really well against some tough competition since he was called up and is a bit younger than Niki so I think maybe he will probably end up a bit better but not enough to really nitpick.

My thoughts on Petro though are he either needs a good partner that will help him create more opportunities or the forwards really need to start scoring goals and getting their game faces on so he can start creating scoring chances for them. Either way I think his development right now is going to be determined by the rest of the team around him.

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12-10-2011, 01:51 AM
  #33
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Originally Posted by HooliganX2 View Post
I think Nikitin's biggest issue here was communication. Now that he is paired with a player that speaks Russian it makes communication much easier for him now.
Also his conditioning, he always was dog tired and out of breath by the 3rd it seemed nearly every game.

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12-10-2011, 11:04 AM
  #34
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Petro's very good and I've always compared his style to Lidstrom and Niedermayer. He still makes a fair amount of defensive zone coverage mistakes but IMO, what would really benefit him and would also push the team to the next level is to pair him with a legit 1st pairing lefty d-man. Cole might get there someday but he's not there yet and the other 2 guys Petro has been paired with this season, Colaiacovo and Huskins, aren't there either...although I have to admit that the Huskins-Petro pairing was A LOT better than I expected. Still, for him to truly round out his defensive game and really be able to fully utilize his offensive talents, I think the Blues need to find a top tier LD for him to be paired with. IMO, right now, Petro isn't contributing as much offensively as he has to really concentrate on his defense with Colaiacovo being his partner. Cola's a good guy to have for the PP and as a 3rd pairing d-man but his defensive weaknesses get exploited when asked to log big minutes against the opposition's best players.

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12-10-2011, 06:18 PM
  #35
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I don't think the consensus was ever that Nikitin would be an average second pairing guy...more like a higher-end bottom pairing guy with some PP ability. I also think that his play (and thus the impact that he might have had for our team instead) is being generally overrated since the trade. He's pulling down a ton of minutes on the right side (where he obviously wouldn't be playing with the Blues) because CLB's defense is simply terrible on that side. I think playing with Tyutin has helped him (another thing he wouldn't have on the Blues), but his overall impact for them isn't quite what you might suspect from simply glancing at the score sheet after the game. Since we can't go back in time to watch all those games, however, here's some numbers to digest from both players with their new respective teams. GF/GA stats indicate goals for and against while that player was on the ice. (Numbers in parentheses are their pre-trade numbers with their original team. Numbers behind the dashed lines represent season totals.)

Russell:
GP: 13 (12) -- 25
ESGF: 12 (8) -- 20
ESGA: 3 (8) -- 11
PPGF: 0 (1) -- 1
PPGA: 0 (1) -- 1
SHGF: 0 (0) -- 0
SHGA: 0 (1) -- 1
Goals: 3 (2) -- 5
Points: 4 (3) -- 7

Nikitin:
GP: 13 (7) -- 20
ESGF: 12 (3) -- 15
ESGA: 11 (8) -- 19
PPGF: 2 (0) -- 2
PPGA: 6 (2) -- 8
SHGF: 1 (0) -- 1
SHGA: 0 (0) -- 0
Goals: 1 (0) -- 1
Points: 10 (0) -- 10

Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but it looks to me that both players are having a better go of things with their new teams and it's working out well for everyone involved. I also don't think that the Blues regret trading Nikitin for Russell one bit. Nikitin's point totals have been great since leaving the Blues, but the impact of those will be muted considerably as long as he's still averaging a goal against at ES every time he plays. He hasn't exactly been a world-beater on special teams, either.

The Blues are getting exactly what they hoped for from Russell...extremely solid ES play. They don't need him on the PK, and he's not primary option on the PP either with Steen and Colaiacovo in line to get work at the left point before him.

I wish Nikitin the best, but I don't regret the trade for one second.

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12-10-2011, 09:49 PM
  #36
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Originally Posted by EastonBlues22 View Post
I don't think the consensus was ever that Nikitin would be an average second pairing guy...more like a higher-end bottom pairing guy with some PP ability. I also think that his play (and thus the impact that he might have had for our team instead) is being generally overrated since the trade. He's pulling down a ton of minutes on the right side (where he obviously wouldn't be playing with the Blues) because CLB's defense is simply terrible on that side. I think playing with Tyutin has helped him (another thing he wouldn't have on the Blues), but his overall impact for them isn't quite what you might suspect from simply glancing at the score sheet after the game. Since we can't go back in time to watch all those games, however, here's some numbers to digest from both players with their new respective teams. GF/GA stats indicate goals for and against while that player was on the ice. (Numbers in parentheses are their pre-trade numbers with their original team. Numbers behind the dashed lines represent season totals.)

Russell:
GP: 13 (12) -- 25
ESGF: 12 (8) -- 20
ESGA: 3 (8) -- 11
PPGF: 0 (1) -- 1
PPGA: 0 (1) -- 1
SHGF: 0 (0) -- 0
SHGA: 0 (1) -- 1
Goals: 3 (2) -- 5
Points: 4 (3) -- 7

Nikitin:
GP: 13 (7) -- 20
ESGF: 12 (3) -- 15
ESGA: 11 (8) -- 19
PPGF: 2 (0) -- 2
PPGA: 6 (2) -- 8
SHGF: 1 (0) -- 1
SHGA: 0 (0) -- 0
Goals: 1 (0) -- 1
Points: 10 (0) -- 10

Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but it looks to me that both players are having a better go of things with their new teams and it's working out well for everyone involved. I also don't think that the Blues regret trading Nikitin for Russell one bit. Nikitin's point totals have been great since leaving the Blues, but the impact of those will be muted considerably as long as he's still averaging a goal against at ES every time he plays. He hasn't exactly been a world-beater on special teams, either.

The Blues are getting exactly what they hoped for from Russell...extremely solid ES play. They don't need him on the PK, and he's not primary option on the PP either with Steen and Colaiacovo in line to get work at the left point before him.

I wish Nikitin the best, but I don't regret the trade for one second.
I have never been able to understand those kind of numbers, but dont ya think those numbers would been differetly had the Blues kept Nikitin? as the Blues traded him before going on a defensive roll.

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12-10-2011, 10:18 PM
  #37
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The Blues (especially Hitch) knew what they were getting in Russell (a solid 4-year, poised 2nd shift defenceman (better on offence, but adequate on defence). Nikitin was still shaky, and didn't project higher than so-so 2nd shifter, at best. So, why regret the trade? He seems to be scoring more than Russell (but with much more opportunity than he'd have as a Blue).

I really doubt that The Blues will regret this deal even if Nikitin reaches his top potential.

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12-11-2011, 12:13 AM
  #38
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I have never been able to understand those kind of numbers, but dont ya think those numbers would been differetly had the Blues kept Nikitin? as the Blues traded him before going on a defensive roll.
In the 7 games Nikitin played with the Blues they managed to score 1 more ES goal for than they allowed. Nikitin was on the ice for ~57% of the ES goals against, and 20% of the ES goals for. The team had a 1.07 GF:GA at ES, and averaged 2.00 ES GA/G. Nikitin's personal ES GF:GA was 0.375, and ES GA/G was 1.14.

In the 6 games he was scratched the Blues went 4-2. They had a 1.56 ES GF:GA in that span (the same as our season average), and averaged 1.50 ES GA/G.

In the games Nikitin hasn't played this season (including the ones he was scratched), the Blues have a 1.94 ES GF:GA, and have averaged 0.82 ES GA/G.

Is it really so hard to believe that perhaps one of the reasons that the Blues "went on a defensive roll" was because Nikitin was no longer playing for them? Nikitin was obviously struggling to find his game in the system the Blues were running, so they stopped playing him (and the Blues played better), then they moved him for a different guy and the Blues responded by playing even better still.

There's no objective reason to think that either Nikitin, or the Blues for that matter, would be performing as well as they currently are if he were still here.

He's playing a different position in a different system for a different team that he appears to be a better fit for, and he's responded well. I'm truly happy for him. At the same time, though, I truly believe (from watching the games, not just from the situational stats I've been throwing around) that we're a better team without him at this point...and I'm obviously not the only one that thinks so since the team chose to move him.

The guy they brought in is playing well...I mean, really well...in the role they were hoping he would fill. Why can't we seem to appreciate that?

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12-11-2011, 12:51 AM
  #39
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Originally Posted by EastonBlues22 View Post
In the 7 games Nikitin played with the Blues they managed to score 1 more ES goal for than they allowed. Nikitin was on the ice for ~57% of the ES goals against, and 20% of the ES goals for. The team had a 1.07 GF:GA at ES, and averaged 2.00 ES GA/G. Nikitin's personal ES GF:GA was 0.375, and ES GA/G was 1.14.

In the 6 games he was scratched the Blues went 4-2. They had a 1.56 ES GF:GA in that span (the same as our season average), and averaged 1.50 ES GA/G.

In the games Nikitin hasn't played this season (including the ones he was scratched), the Blues have a 1.94 ES GF:GA, and have averaged 0.82 ES GA/G.

Is it really so hard to believe that perhaps one of the reasons that the Blues "went on a defensive roll" was because Nikitin was no longer playing for them? Nikitin was obviously struggling to find his game in the system the Blues were running, so they stopped playing him (and the Blues played better), then they moved him for a different guy and the Blues responded by playing even better still.

There's no objective reason to think that either Nikitin, or the Blues for that matter, would be performing as well as they currently are if he were still here.

He's playing a different position in a different system for a different team that he appears to be a better fit for, and he's responded well. I'm truly happy for him. At the same time, though, I truly believe (from watching the games, not just from the situational stats I've been throwing around) that we're a better team without him at this point...and I'm obviously not the only one that thinks so since the team chose to move him.

The guy they brought in is playing well...I mean, really well...in the role they were hoping he would fill. Why can't we seem to appreciate that?
He also led the team in qual comp. He played all the hard minutes and the team as a whole wasn't sharp at all. Sorry but he isn't the guy you can skapegoat. He was misused and didn't get the PP time he should have.

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12-11-2011, 12:55 AM
  #40
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Russell has played very good hockey with us, there is no reason for people to hate on him.

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12-11-2011, 01:21 AM
  #41
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He also led the team in qual comp. He played all the hard minutes and the team as a whole wasn't sharp at all. Sorry but he isn't the guy you can skapegoat. He was misused and didn't get the PP time he should have.
The QualComp thing is pretty funny. The Blues played five of the seven games he played on the road, and thus the other team had last change. If he was facing the other teams top lines, it was because those teams were specifically targeting him (presumably as the weakest defensive opponent) for their top lines to play against. The fact that he didn't hold up well is an indictment of his play, not a justification for it. It's also not something you can point to in an attempt to prove that he was being "misused", as there's nothing the Blues coach could really do about that besides not play Nikitin at all those games.

And nobody is "scapegoating" anyone (nice ad hominem attack, by the way). I didn't run him out of town on a rail. I simply think he didn't fit this system all that well, and that he's found a better fit somewhere else. I also think that it's unreasonable to assume that he would have had the success here that he's had in Columbus (for multiple reasons that I've already discussed), or that the Blues would be a better team with him here than they currently are without him. My positions seem far more reasonable that the positions you and Sample XIX have taken on this particular issue.

Now that we have that out of the way, would you care to go into specifics regarding how, exactly, you think he was "misused?" And why did he deserve so much PP time? He's averaged exactly 3:00 minutes of PP time per game (for 21 games...that's 63 minutes off PP time, or more than a full game's worth of minutes) and he has exactly 2 points to show for it this year. Last year he had 4 points in about 53 minutes of PP time. That's 3.1 points for every 60 minutes of PP time...respectable, but hardly setting the world on fire. He's not better than Pietrangelo or Shattenkirk on the point, and both Colaiacovo and Steen have had much better years there than that. Who was he supposed to be getting more PP time at the expense of? And why?


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12-11-2011, 01:22 AM
  #42
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He also led the team in qual comp. He played all the hard minutes and the team as a whole wasn't sharp at all. Sorry but he isn't the guy you can skapegoat. He was misused and didn't get the PP time he should have.

You're right! Let's scapegoat Barret Jackman.


From the Nikitin/Russell trade thread...
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On the other hand if people have the audacity to talk about consistency and give Jackman a pass then I don't know what to say. He's good for a solid game in 20. If that.

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12-11-2011, 01:49 AM
  #43
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You're right! Let's scapegoat Barret Jackman.


From the Nikitin/Russell trade thread...
Yeah and at that time Jackman had some really up and down games and got a free pass. In fact he had some really bad giveaways that directly resulted in a loss and a few screen plays that resulted in goals. Everyone harped on Nikitin for one really bad screen that Halak should of had anyway. Not to mention Jackman was playing with a really hot Shattenkirk.

How many soft goals was Nikitin on for? People say +/- is a BS stat for a reason. Don't forget Halaks struggles during those stretches either and they had nothing to do with defense.

I'll stand by that we traded the better player from here until Russell proves he can put up more points and play a shutdown roll. He's had some really good games and his speed is something the defense needed but he isn't a better player overall.

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Snip
Do you really think other teams would of been targeting Polak? Maybe the 3rd or 4th lines were out there? No it was just Nikitin that they went after. Cool cherry picking stats tho. I bet if Halak saved a few softies then Nikitin's stat sheet wouldn't even look bad at all.

I think he played the point better than Colaiacovo myself as he can't keep a puck in to save his life. The problem with the Blues PP this year has always been net front presence and a lack of screening the goalie. I also think Steen should be on the RW for a one timer set up but hey that's my opinion.


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12-11-2011, 02:52 AM
  #44
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How many soft goals was Nikitin on for? People say +/- is a BS stat for a reason. Don't forget Halaks struggles during those stretches either and they had nothing to do with defense.
It depends...do you include goals that Nikitin screened Halak on, or goals that Nikitin deflected into his own net, to be soft? Also, I'm not basing my judgments about Nikitin fitting in with the Blues off the +/- stat...far from it. There's not much else to talk about, though, since my efforts to expand the conversation into a more sophisticated realm are meeting resistance.

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I'll stand by that we traded the better player from here until Russell proves he can put up more points and play a shutdown roll. He's had some really good games and his speed is something the defense needed but he isn't a better player overall.
When did Nikitin ever prove that he could play a shut-down role? I never saw him do that here, and it doesn't look like he's doing it in Columbus. He was always a guy that you could comfortably throw out there against most teams' #2 through #4 lines, but that you would avoid matching up against top lines if you could. Shut-down guys are guys that you go out of your way to match up against the other teams' top lines...so they can be shut down. They're also typically the first guys you are looking to throw out on your PK. Nikitin was never that guy, either. Or maybe we have different defintions of "shut-down" defensemen? I'm honestly a bit confused here.

On a different note, Nikitin now has 19 points in his 62 career NHL games at age 25. That puts him roughly on pace for 25 points over 82 games. Russell's averaged 23 points per 82 games so far in the NHL (302 games), and he's 24. Why are you concluding that Nikitin is destined to put up more points than Russell?

Quote:
Do you really think other teams would of been targeting Polak? Maybe the 3rd or 4th lines were out there? No it was just Nikitin that they went after. Cool cherry picking stats tho.
No, I think they were targeting Nikitin because he was the worst defenseman out there (not saying he's a horrible defenseman, mind you...just not as good as any of the other 5 guys that were playing). Arnott's been centering the 3rd line all year and he's been on for a whole whopping 5 ES goals against, so it seems unlikely that he was "the problem." The 4th line averages about 5 ES minutes a game, and they almost never start a shift from the faceoff on the road (where another team would be able to target them specifically with the last change), so that seems pretty unlikely as well.

Quote:
I bet if Halak saved a few softies then Nikitin's stat sheet wouldn't even look bad at all.
Possibly, but it wouldn't change the fact that Nikitin wasn't looking all that good out there.

Quote:
I think he played the point better than Colaiacovo myself as he can't keep a puck in to save his life. The problem with the Blues PP this year has always been net front presence and a lack of screening the goalie. I also think Steen should be on the RW for a one timer set up but hey that's my opinion.
I think there's the list of troubles affecting the Blues PP is no small list, but I can certainly agree that you've touched on at least two issues that are in the discussion. I would also prefer to see Steen on the right circle in a 1-3-1 alignment, although I think better puck movement is a bigger problem than getting more traffic in front. You can put all the people in front that you want, but if your puck movement doesn't make the top of the defensive box respect down low or crosss-seam action, then they're free to overplay the point shooting lanes and aggressively pressure the points. It's very hard to force shots through to the net when that's happening. Movement first, then traffic next IMO.

I personally think that the Colaiacovo/Nikitin argument is a bit of a wash. They both have their pros and cons, and I think both can do a decent job out there without being anything special. Certainly I don't think that Nikitin has proven himself to be completely inept on the PP...I just don't think he's shown that he really upgrades what we were already running. He didn't really do much on the PP while he was here, and he hasn't done much in Columbus either. Maybe he will someday, but I don't think he was getting jilted by not getting first unit time here.

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12-11-2011, 03:21 AM
  #45
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I would rather have Nikitin in our top 4 for now and in the future over Russel, and I dont hate Russel, I just prefer Nikitin over him.

With that being said, Im sorry I bring up Nikitins name in this thread as it gone out of hand, we are suppose to discuss how Pie is doing.

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12-11-2011, 03:55 AM
  #46
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Originally Posted by Sample XIX View Post
I would rather have Nikitin in our top 4 for now and in the future over Russel, and I dont hate Russel, I just prefer Nikitin over him.
Judging by your location, I assume that you're a big fan of European hockey? That makes sense to me, since the European influence is obvious in Nikitin's style of play. I don't mean that in a bad way at all...it's just obvious in his decision making and how he acts with the puck on his stick. Seems like a perfectly reasonable reason for prefering his style of play over Russell's.

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With that being said, Im sorry I bring up Nikitins name in this thread as it gone out of hand, we are suppose to discuss how Pie is doing.
True, it's probably about time to try and drag this thread back on topic.

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12-11-2011, 05:35 AM
  #47
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Originally Posted by EastonBlues22 View Post
Judging by your location, I assume that you're a big fan of European hockey? That makes sense to me, since the European influence is obvious in Nikitin's style of play. I don't mean that in a bad way at all...it's just obvious in his decision making and how he acts with the puck on his stick. Seems like a perfectly reasonable reason for prefering his style of play over Russell's.


True, it's probably about time to try and drag this thread back on topic.
Ohh that is the opposite man, I love NA hockey, I dont follow European/Swedish hockey at all. All my favorite players are mostly Canadians, Im now following any Swedish player at all.

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12-11-2011, 11:57 AM
  #48
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I'm really not a huge fan of Russell. He's shaky defensively, coughs up the puck quite a bit, gets overpowered physically and really hasn't added that much offensively. That said, I wasn't impressed with Nikitin at all either and am absolutely surprised at how well he's doing (at least in terms of pts) with Columbus. Can more minutes and having a partner who speaks your language really make THAT much of a difference? That said, I don't regret the trade at all. Nikitin didn't fit here. The main part I didn't like about the trade though was that we traded a 3rd pairing d-man making $600k for a 3rd pairing d-man making $1.3M this year and next. I'm sure that's one of the main reasons CLB wanted to do the trade - they were sitting a healthy Russell in the pressbox while he was making pretty good cash.

One thing I wonder is, when Huskins returns, who sits? Of course, that's assuming everyone stays healthy which is a BIG assumption with this team but honestly, if everyone is healthy and nobody is traded, who sits? I would think that it's not going to be any of the righties and it's not going to be Jacks or Cola so that leaves either Russell or Huskins to sit in the pressbox while Cole goes back to Peoria. I'll also note that if Cole keeps playing well when he gets his chances, he might be breathing down Russell's neck to take his spot in the lineup while Huskins is still out. I'd be absolutely fine if all of a sudden we saw a healthy Russell sit for Cole...except the Blues would then have a $1.3M player just sitting in the pressbox.

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12-11-2011, 03:04 PM
  #49
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Originally Posted by STL fan in IA View Post
One thing I wonder is, when Huskins returns, who sits? Of course, that's assuming everyone stays healthy which is a BIG assumption with this team but honestly, if everyone is healthy and nobody is traded, who sits? I would think that it's not going to be any of the righties and it's not going to be Jacks or Cola so that leaves either Russell or Huskins to sit in the pressbox while Cole goes back to Peoria. I'll also note that if Cole keeps playing well when he gets his chances, he might be breathing down Russell's neck to take his spot in the lineup while Huskins is still out. I'd be absolutely fine if all of a sudden we saw a healthy Russell sit for Cole...except the Blues would then have a $1.3M player just sitting in the pressbox.
If he can step in and play like a legitimate NHL defender when he's needed (and regardless of what any given individual thinks about the specifics of his play, I think that most of us can agree that he's at least doing that much), and the team can afford to pay him, then I don't have any problem with having a $1.3 million player sitting in the pressbox (whether it's Russell, or Cole, or Huskins...all of whom have about the same cap hit). Having him around, and Cole in Peoria, are two reasons why we're humming right along in spite of missing a great deal of time from Colaiacovo and Huskins. We've been down to #8 deep on our defensive depth chart (#9 if you count the single game Fairchild played) and for the most part the defensive play hasn't missed a beat. That's outstanding, and well worth an extra 700k or so.

One of the unspoken keys to the Russell deal, though, might be what happens after this year when Jackman, Colaiacovo, and Huskins all hit FA. He can slide into the top 6 comfortably if needed, be that #7 guy, or whatever depending on how the offseason shakes out and you don't really need to worry about him. If the Blues spent some money to upgrade their LHD (i.e. Suter) and rolled with Cole and Russell rounding out their top 6, I would be very comfortable with that. Pick up a little cheap depth to round out the #7-#9 defensive slots and you're good to go. Even a Jackman, Cole, Russell trio wouldn't be the end of the world...we've already seen that it can work just fine. The depth would be more important, though.

Nikitin was slated to be a RFA after this year, and if he was consistently sitting in the Blues pressbox as he was early in the season (or even worse, sent down to Peoria), then there's no telling whether he would sign up for another stint of that or take his business back to Russia...and I wouldn't blame him if he did.

If, for whatever reason, he had decided to leave...then all of a sudden you're looking at a pretty monumental offseason task on the defensive side of things with only 1 legitimate LHD under contract and zero NHL quality depth behind your top 4 (Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Polak, and Cole). Trading him for Russell eliminates that possibility. Not a bad buy for $700k, IMO.

For the record, I don't think that Nikitin's a "flight risk" now that he's playing consistently in Columbus...but I do think he'll be given a contract from them that pays him more than what Russell is currently making.

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Old
12-11-2011, 03:44 PM
  #50
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It's not like Russell is making Brad Boyes type money. With all the depth problems last year the Blues have the luxury to sit Cole and at some point Huskins will return from his injury. If Cole then gets sent down and Russell sees some press box time, that is a good problem to have. Depth is good. Fairchild even looked solid in his one game.

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