Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Gold medal game draws rave reviews from Blues;
players await whether Blues make trade noise

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Arguments might be far and few in between if hockey fans found any fault with Sunday's Olympic gold medal game.

Those "fans" include members of the Blues and the coaching staff, who cheered for their respective teams, whether it was the United States or Canada.

Blues coach Davis Payne, a Canadian who hails from Kamloops, British Columbia, was obviously one of the many happy campers in the Blues' organization when Sidney Crosby's goal in overtime gave Canada a 3-2 overtime win over the USA which brought with it the precious gold medal.

"It was fantastic; my two favorite teams finished (Nos.) 1 and 2," said Payne, who jumped off his couch when the winner was scored and offered high-fives. "It was just great hockey. You could see the reaction by everybody involved and the attention it got going into (Sunday's) game.

"Results aside, it gained the attention we appreciate as hockey players and people in this game. It's a great game and any time we can show off that based on their efforts and what everybody did in Vancouver is fantastic."

Blues goalie Chris Mason, of Red Deer, Alberta, agreed.

"You couldn't ask for anything more for the gold medal game, especially with the dramatic comeback ... last goal there," he said. "As a goalie, you know how important every shot is. It's just unfortunate with the way (USA's Ryan) Miller played that it had to come in like that. He was unbelievable and was probably the best player of the tournament."

Forward B.J. Crombeen, born in Denver but moved to Springwater, Ontario when he was three years old, was on the fence and didn't have a preference.

With dual citizenship, he was one American-Canadian who was on the edge of his seat when USA's Zach Parise tied the game with under 25 seconds left.

"I got pretty excited. I was born in America, but I have dual citizenship, so I can go either way," Crombeen said. "It was pretty good to see USA play a hard game like that. It was a great game from start to finish. It was pretty exciting and kind of kept me on the edge of the seat the whole way.

"I honestly can say I didn't care either way. I liked the Canadians. I probably consider myself more a Canadian than an American, but I don't really like how cocky the Canadians are with their hockey, so it was good to see a good, tight game and maybe help the Canadians realize that it's starting to get to a level playing field and see the US come up and make it an even game."

* Backes and Johnson rejoin Blues -- First, it was Czech Republic's Roman Polak. Now, USA's David Backes and Erik Johnson are ready to trade in their Team USA jersey's for the BlueNote.

Both Backes and Johnson, who were part of Sunday's 3-2 overtime loss to Canada in the gold medal game, rejoined their Blues teammates in Phoenix Monday in time for today's game against the Coyotes.

And while the duo has been going hard for the previous two weeks representing their country, both are expected to remain at a high level as they try and help the Blues make a playoff push.

"I hope they come back and feel that they're among the elite hockey players in the world," Payne said. "It's why they were among that stage. I certainly feel like it gives them experience, gives them a wider foundation to expand their game. We want them to come back playing the kind of hockey they were playing there."

* Players on edge -- With the trade deadline approaching Wednesday at 2 p.m., the Blues are entering a case of deja vu.

Will they or won't they -- trade, that is?

Blues President John Davidson stood firm and kept his team in tact a season ago and the Blues rewarded Davidson and the organization with a postseason berth.

With the Blues (28-25-9) five points in back of eighth place with one game before Wednesday's deadline, what will Davidson do this season?

Does he trade impending unrestricted free agents Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Carlo Colaiacovo, among others.

Tkachuk, who is out a minimum 10 days after left pinkie surgery on Friday, has indicated he does not want to waive his no-trade clause. Kariya reportedly has not been approached by the club to waive his no-movement clause.

The players, on the other hand, have been through this routine before and understand the ramifications of what trades can do to clubs.

"I think everybody's aware of it. There's nothing you can do," said Mason, another of the impending UFA's. "There hasn't been much talk about it around here, so there's nothing we can do. You just sit and let everything unfold."

Count Mason among those of keeping the roster in tact and going forward with what the Blues have.

"I'm sure that's how everybody feels," he said. "The bottom line, it's not up to us. I'm sure it doesn't really matter what we think. That's why the general managers and the staff, that's their job and our job is to play hockey."

* Armstrong recalled -- With Tkachuk shut down for at least the next three games, the Blues recalled veteran forward Derek Armstrong from Peoria Monday.

Payne was asked if anybody else was under consideration for a recall but opted to go with experience -- Armstrong is 36 -- over youth.

"There was some consideration," Payne said. "There was a group of guys, obviously some guys down there were playing well. Obviously with Walt being out, the position of playing center was important, but certainly where we're headed over these next 20 and the experience was definitely a factor."

* Minor deal -- The Blues did make a deal Tuesday, acquiring minor league goalie Joe Fallon from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for goalie Hannu Toivonen and defenseman Danny Richmond.

Fallon, 25, has played in 29 games this season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, recording a 15-10-1 mark including a 2.64 goals-against avarege and .912 save percentage.

* Line combinations -- Line combinations at Wednesday's practice won't be etched in stone tonight, as the Blues will have to incorporate Backes and Johnson into the mix tonight, but the lines working the Ice Zone Monday included the following:

Paul Kariya-T.J. Oshie-Brad Boyes

Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Alex Steen-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Brad Winchester-Derek Armstrong-D.J. King

Cam Janssen (suspended five games) is on the trip and can practice while he serves his time.

Defensive pairings were:

Barret Jackman-Roman Polak

Eric Brewer-Darryl Sydor

Carlo Colaiacovo-Mike Weaver

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