ST. LOUIS, MO
Well it’s that time of the year again, the start of the NHL playoffs are here and the St.Louis Blues are about to face one of their most hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. And anytime when the Blues and Blackhawks get together it’s a fun time for fans in St.Louis and Chicago. But, when it’s the playoffs the heat gets turned up higher than you can turn a knob on a range oven.
The Blues have not fared well against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champions now boast a 32-24 all-time playoff record against the Blues. And to be honest the “Notes” hasn’t done too well in the playoffs as of late. It’s become almost custom that by the time your grass turns green the Blues are normally dismissed from the playoffs.
Fans throughout the region are collectively cautiously optimistic that this could be the year the Blues advance at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Especially, after another strong regular season netting a total of 107 points, without having more than two players net 20 goals. Or even have two players over 50 points for the season. The Blues averaged under three goals a game ranked in the middle of the pack at 15. But, the Blues did make up for that cracking the top ten in three other important categories; Ranking 2,4, and 6 in penalty kill, goaltending, and power play, according to NHLreference.com. Coach Ken Hitchcock in a brief presser said that every person is available health wise and that Blues Captain David Backes will be ready to play according to ESPN.com.
The defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks bring plenty of offensive fireworks led by Patrick Kane’s 106 points and second leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin’s 30 goals and 47 assists. And they get plenty of offense from their defensemen as well. Defenseman Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are ranked 4 and 5 respectively on their team in regards scoring. And can’t leave out that the Blackhawks are steered by former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.
And in order for the Blues to have any success against the Blackhawks, they have to remain aggressive especially on the power play. I noticed several times throughout the season they would have the puck on the power play and 15-20 seconds would go by without a shot being taken on net. Also my eyes will be on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a very talented player yet he is a –14 when it comes to plus/minus rating. And the Blues have shown a tendency to get caught flat-footed creating odd man rushes, that’s something this team can ill afford to do. Obvious goals will be at a premium in the NHL playoffs, sometimes all you need is one goal.
Regardless, it’s good to have some playoff sports in the city of St.Louis, let’s hope the Blues give the “blues” to someone else for a change this spring. And nothing would be sweeter than eliminating a rival.
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Flyers owner and CEO Ed Snider passed this weekend in California. Ed Snider was the Joe Namath of franchise owners. Cool. Connected. Threw cash at his Flyers that you knew was backed by passion as much as it were the promise of success. Ed Snider taught a city hockey, and captured the love and dedication to a franchise that bordered on cult worship. The Flyers, under his nearly 50 year stewardship became unquestionably the most successful expansion team outside of the Original Six. He helped to shape, grow, and move the NHL out of realm of a niche sport and into the national consciousness as cable and satellite television brought ice hockey to every corner of America.
But all along, even as he created Comcast Spectacor and worked on the landscape of the sport he loved so ardently, there was never a question. The Philadelphia Flyers were his baby. His true love and that sentiment was unwavering. The Flyers were 1st, 2nd and last in his heart and it showed. Walk through the Wells Fargo Center during any home game and you’ll always find the halls littered with ex Flyers from generations past. The motto has always been “once a Flyer, always family” and it remains true. The Flyers arrived in Philadelphia in 1967 and a parade for the new franchise attracted a rousing party of 75….six years later the Flyers would become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup and a parade would wind through Philly with 2 million party goers in attendance. Though they repeated in 1975, the Flyers haven’t won a third title despite 7 trips to the NHL finals since. That never dissuaded Mr. Snider. He poured money like the Yankees into free agency, trusted his execs to execute the plan, all the while maintaining the family feel that separates the Flyers from so many other pro sports organizations.
Ed Snider built and funded 6 inner city arenas so that the children of Philadelphia can play and learn ice hockey free of charge. Skates, padding, sticks and equipment all underwritten by the foundation created by Mr. Snider to fund urban hockey. When I drive through Philly today I see children of every color walking to hockey practice and playing in city leagues. This all Mr. Snider’s doing and an incredible legacy unto itself. There are over 5,000 kids playing city hockey now under the Flyers umbrella at zero cost.
Ed Snider radiated cool, and I’m left with our last meeting to summarize Mr. Snider. I’m leaving the Flyers game two years ago on a frozen February night. While I ease onto the expressway, I see Mr. Snider pull up on my right in that beautiful silver Jag with the FLYERS1 PA tags. I wave and say hey. I can see him thinking, finally he looks up and goes, “How ya been Phil?” I was not and no one in Philly would be, surprised he knew their name. He was a great man, an amazing owner, and he was one of a kind. Follow me on Twitter: @MtAiryPhil
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