Former Avalanche players Kevin Shattenkirk (top left) and Chris Stewart (top right) warm up in Blues uniforms prior to Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Scottrade Center. They were acquired in trade for Erik Johnson, bottom left, and Jay McClement, lower right.
Bernie: Blues take bold step
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 20, 2011
The newcomers were impressive in Saturday's 9-3 smackdown of visiting Anaheim.
The sellout crowd of 19,150 at Scottrade liked the big trade.
Stewart offered an instant confirmation. He's legit. He entered with a double shot Saturday, scoring two goals in his Blue Note debut. Since the start of last season, Stewart has scored more goals (43) and has more points (96) and has averaged more goals per game (0.38) than any player on the Blues' roster over the same period of time. And Stewart has done that in only 114 games; he missed 21 contests earlier this season after breaking a hand.
And if you don't mind me going numbers nerd on you, consider this: of the NHL players that have played in 114 games or fewer since the start of last season, only Evegni Malkin has scored more goals than Stewart. Make no mistake; Armstrong has landed a game-changing scorer here. The numbers back it up.
Sure, trading Johnson is risky. He has superstar potential. He's only 22, and may eventually become a great player. But for whatever reason, EJ had stopped progressing and his hockey instincts weren't getting any sharper. His passion for the game came under fire a bit.
Given the organizational depth at defense, Armstrong correctly figured it was time for a gamble. With no in-house scorers waiting in the wings, the Blues had to go outside the organization to find one. And Stewart certainly looks and plays the part. The hard-charging power forward already has produced and has considerable upside to deliver even more. Stewart will get more ice time -- and power-play duty -- with the Blues than he did in Colorado.
Shattenkirk, meanwhile, has flashed exciting ability as an offensive defenseman, and his righthanded shot should give some pop to the power play. The kid looked smooth and poised in his first game with St. Louis. Shattenkirk seems to have a genuine feel for the game. And by landing the rookie defenseman to take Johnson's spot, the Blues maintained depth on the blue line.
That's why this trade makes sense. The Blues added scoring and a couple of components to enhance the power play -- and still have sufficient pieces on defense. If anything, the Blues have a surplus there; the Brewer-Johnson removals will create expanded opportunities to young defensemen Ian Cole and Nikita Nikitin.
Brewer and Johnson supplied bulk minutes, which could be difficult to replace in the immediate aftermath. But that wasn't a factor Friday and Saturday. Besides, the Blues can't worry about that now. Armstrong had to do something daring to ignite his team's sluggish attack — for now and the future.
Armstrong also had to send a message to the team: don't get comfortable, don't assume anything, don't think you're all on scholarship. The Blues had gotten complacement, and Armstrong wasn't going to put up with that. He's challenging the room and demanding more. We like it.
As for Brewer, I think there was more to this than a routine salary dump. Sure, dollars were a factor in the Blues shipping their captain to Tampa Bay. Brewer, a pending free agent, wasn't going to be re-signed by the team, and Checketts saved $1.5 million (Brewer's remaining salary) in the transaction. As a bonus, the Blues did OK by picking up a decent prospect, defenseman Brock Beukeboom, and a No. 3 draft pick from Tampa Bay.
Blues management won't say this out of respect to Brewer, a good man. But my guess is that Armstrong wants to cultivate new leadership and energize the the locker-room culture. Brewer tried hard to be an effective team captain but was never ideal for the role. And the desire to clear Brewer out in order to put the responsibility of leadership on others was part of the shake-up.
Over the last year and a half, the Blues have fired a coach. They've put a new GM in place. They've made trades for a goaltender (Jaroslav Halak) and a scorer (Stewart).
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Stewart scores twice, Blues rout Ducks 9-3
Posted on February 19, 2011 at 11:54 PM
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Stewart used to be a scoring machine against the St. Louis Blues. Now, he's on their side.
The former Avalanche forward made a two-goal debut, helping energize a franchise coming off a pair of high-profile trades, in a 9-3 rout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. He was running on adrenaline, after learning he'd been traded about 11 p.m. Friday night and taking two flights to St. Louis.
"It was a perfect start," Stewart said. "By the time I landed, I had three or four text messages from the boys and it was very comforting. It was an easy adjustment."
The 23-year-old Stewart totaled two goals in his last 14 games with Colorado after returning from a broken hand. Against the Blues, he has eight goals and 15 points in only nine career games.
"Yeah, a couple of the boys let me know before the game," Stewart said. "They were calling me the Blues killer, so I found that kind of funny."
The Blues just missed a franchise record with two goals in a 7-second span of the first period. T.J. Oshie had his first career two-goal game with an assist, playing a hand in both goals of the quick flurry that erased a two-goal deficit.
The record is two goals in 6 seconds, also against the Ducks on Oct. 11, 2010, at home.
It sparked a season best for scoring, topping the previous best by three goals. The Blues are 13th in the Western Conference, five points out of the final playoff spot, and in the last two days shook up the roster by trading Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer and Jay McClement.
"We lost three teammates, great guys, and it was a bit of a shock," said forward Andy McDonald, who had two goals and an assist. "It wasn't like we had a few days to adjust, it was on a game day, and I think the guys handled it pretty well."
Stewart was the fifth player in franchise history to score twice in his debut, getting his 14th and 15th on power plays in the second period after totaling two goals in his last 14 games with Colorado. Kevin Shattenkirk, also acquired from the Avalanche in the deal for Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2006, set up Stewart's second goal.
St. Louis was 3 for 5 on the power play and Alex Steen had a short-handed goal to wrap up the scoring plus two assists.
The Ducks have been vulnerable with Jonas Hiller sidelined the last three games by a recurrence of dizziness and fatigue, surrendering 21 goals. Backup Curtis McElhinney was yanked after giving up four goals on 11 shots in the first period in favor of rookie Timo Pielmeier.
"It doesn't matter who's in net," forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "It's not that they're bad goals. They're getting bounces against us because we're not working for them."
Ty Conklin had a shutout Friday at Buffalo after the Blues traded Brewer, who had been captain, to Tampa Bay. He was lifted at 16:42 of the first period after surrendering three goals on five shots with Ben Bishop finishing.
Teemu Selanne scored his 19th for Anaheim before getting a game misconduct penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second period. Jarkko Ruutu and Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, who'll play their next seven at home.
"It doesn't matter if you're at home or on the road," Getzlaf said. "We're going to have to go back to work."
The Blues set a season best with four goals in the first period, then matched it in the second in their highest scoring game since Brendan Shanahan had three goals and two assists in an 11-1 victory at Ottawa on Feb. 26, 1994. McDonald had two goals, scoring on the front end of the 7-second salvo off Oshie's setup.
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