Janssen upset with Vigneault remarks; Armstrong solid in debut
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- It would be wise if Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault not make Blues forward Cam Janssen angry.
Janssen, the Blues' enforcer, was already angry enough after a first-period fight with the Canucks' Rick Rypien during the Blues' 4-3 overtime loss Thursday.
Rypien received a match penalty following the fight because officials recognized tape on the Canucks forward's right hand and after Janssen suffered a bloodied nose during the altercation.
Vigneault said after the game Rypien should have not received the match penalty because there was no cut of Janssen. Vigneault, a fighter himself during his playing days, thought that Janssen suffered a broken nose.
Here is what Vigneault said following the game:
"In my mind, we got put in a very tough position in the first period when we were assessed that five-minute major penalty. In my opinion, it was not the right call. The call clearly states that there has to be a cut; there was no cut, there was a broken nose. The tape is on Ripper's right hand and he threw punches with his left, got him good a couple times and broke his nose. That's not a cut. So I thought the interpretation of that call was wrong and put is behind the Eight-Ball there, gave them a five-minute power play where they scored one goal."
But according to the National Hockey League official rules, Section 6, Rule 47.15 states the following:
* Any player wearing tape or any other material on his hands (below the wrist) who cuts or injures an opponent during an altercation will receive a match penalty in addition to any other penalties imposed including for fighting under this rule.
After practice on Friday, it was evident Janssen did not have a broken nose and did not take kindly to Vigneault's assessment when told of it.
"Whatever! We play them again in Vancouver, and I'll remember what their coach said," Janssen said.
The two teams play one more time Jan. 27 in Vancouver, so stay tuned.
* Armstrong debuts -- Veteran Derek Armstrong made his season debut with the Blues on Thursday night and Blues coach Andy Murray liked what he saw.
Armstrong, 36, was signed to a tryout contract prior to the season but did not make the team out of camp. He has played in Peoria this season and was recalled earlier in the week under emergency conditions.
"He brings personality, first of all," Murray said of Armstrong, who he coached in Los Angeles with the Kings. "He's a Danny Hinote in terms of the kind of energy he brings. He's a magnet. He's what I call a connector. There's people in this world that are connectors and they have the ability to bring people together, and Derek is a connector."
Armstrong played 8 minutes, 24 seconds against the Canucks and was even in the plus-minus category for the night.
"It's tough to find the legs there," Armstrong said. "I was down in Peoria quite a bit. It's going to take me a couple games to get my legs a little bit, but I think as long as I'm good on my angles and smart on my shifts I think I'll be alright."
The Blues are hoping Armstrong, who has a strong and good personality in the locker room, can help bring things together for a group struggling to find sustained confidence.
"They've got such a great team here," Armstrong said of the Blues. "It just seems like in the third period, we seemed to panic a little bit. Any team that's fragile a little bit ... you tend to panic and you're nervous, that tends to happen. It's all about confidence and getting that swagger back. This is a good hockey team. Just put a couple wins together, it will all turn back around."
* Mason struggling -- Blues goalies Chris Mason and Ty Conklin were the reasons this team was able to stay afloat early in the season when the team was struggling to score goals.
But in recent weeks, both have given up some soft goals, including Mason's two goals allowed in the third period Thursday which helped the Canucks tie the game 3-3 and eventually win in overtime.
Of Mason's last 13 goals allowed, eight of them have come in the third period. He has an 11-12-5 record and his goals against of 2.65 is up and the save percentage is down to .907.
"To me, Chris just needs to play as well as Chris can play," Murray said. "Whatever he has to do to do that, he needs to find that. He's working with (assistant coach) Rick Wamsley, and they're working on anything that Rick feels he needs to work on. As a coach, you have to believe and trust in your players. I believe and trust our goaltenders. I expect they'll return to the form they had early in the season."