GAMEDAY 38: Blue Christmas

The Penguins are back in action tonight looking for their fifth win in a row when they take on the Capitals of the Western Conference, that joke worked up until last year at least. For a decade the Blues have been a team that have competed without winning, and as a result they haven’t been able to get over the hump to glory. This season however, the Blues may have finally hit the wall in the Central Division as teams like Winnipeg, Nashville and Colorado continue to steamroll everyone in their path. The Blues currently sit with 34 points which is good enough for 6th in the Central, a total that places them seven points behind the Wild-Card holding Dallas Stars and a full ten points behind the third-place Avalanche. There was a time, it was three years ago, when every time you would look at the standings in the Central it would be everyone chasing Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville. One of those teams as continued making really good trades and signings and remains in the top three, one is getting handcuffed by horrible contracts after winning some cups, and one is just in a constant state of door knob humping.

The general management in St. Louis decided in late November that they would give ex-Penguins assistant coach Mike Yeo some extended time during Thanksgiving with his family by giving him the axe. Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock in 2017, and after taking the Blues to the playoffs that season failed to get to the postseason dance last year. Not even two years into the job Yeo was sent packing with a 73-49-11 mark in St. Louis. He previously spent parts of five seasons with the Wild, putting up a 173-132-44 record. He is currently on unemployment. Yeo has been replaced by Craig Berube, who looks like a guy that was made fun of for having a name that sounds like Booby his entire life:

Image result for craig berube

Beboobs inherited an 8-10-3 St. Louis team and since taking over Beboobie has coached the Blues to a 7-6-1 record, basically alternating between wins and losses save for two sets of two wins in a row. The Blues are currently on one of these sets, having won their last two games coming in to tonights matchup with the Pens. It is very common to place blame on the coach, and it’s an old cliche that firing one man is easier than changing 20, but that doesn’t mean it is right. I will never understand how a team owner can watch a team do the same thing every year and not fire the General Manager as a result. When a team has basically kept the same core together and failed to produce anything under three coaches the chances are it isn’t just the coaches failing. Doug Armstrong was hired in 2010 and has remained as the GM since then, with a resume that boasts 6 playoff appearances, 2 Central Division championships (which are meaningless) and “General Manager of the Year” in 2011. As Penguins fans we were ready to fire Sullivan and Rutherford in November for possibly not making the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and here this guy is holding on to a job with basic white girl style resume.

During practice yesterday Patric Hornqvist left the ice after getting hit (in the head I think?) and did not return. Grant replaced Hornqvist for the rest of practice so look out for that as we approach the 8 PM puck drop. Jamie Oleksiak was a full participant in practice yesterday as well which is a good sign for two reasons, first and foremost his concussion symptoms are gone which is always a good thing and secondly, Riikola isn’t doing so well. Riikola is currently getting carved up like a Christmas ham game in and game out at even strength, and during this stretch of wins it would be more noticeable if Pettersson and Johnson weren’t playing as well as they are. He hasn’t been awful, especially when you remember that he is a rookie, however I am wondering when Chad Ruhwedel gets a game and I feel like tonight would be a good time. Outside of the defense the offensive lines should remain similar to what we’ve seen and the goaltender selection is a draw. The Pens close out 2018 in Minnesota on Monday night so it doesn’t seem like there is an advantage between DeSmith or Murray for either game, other than Murray’s 5-0-1 mark on the road this year. Regardless of who is in net for the Pens they are sitting with a really good opportunity to win their 5th game in a row tonight.