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Hockey Guy: Blues depth pays another dividend

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Doug Armstrong’s summer maneuvers added considerable front-line depth to the Blues. It allowed Davis Payne to construct three dangerous lines and employ a quality fourth line as well.

The moves also protected the Blues from injury. Fans saw another pay-off Saturday night as the team shrugged off the loss of Andy McDonald (concussion) and scored a big 4-2 victory at San Jose.

Vladimir Sobotka stepped up to fill McDonald’s scoring line void. Sobotka played nearly 19 minutes, earned a plus-two rating and assisted on the clinching empty-net goal scored by David Backes.

Meanwhile Evgeny Grachev, acquired around the NHL Draft from the Rangers, stepped into Sobokta’s fourth-line spot and made his regular season debut for the Note.

It’s always a good sign then your team leaves the other coach fuming. And, yes, Sharks coach Todd McLellan was fuming after this game.

Some highlights, from the San Jose Mercury News:

“We weren't prepared to play a grind-it-out game. We wanted to play this fancy puck possession stuff against a team that wanted to grind it out.

“We choose to be the Globetrotters in the first seven or eight minutes of the game, and it doesn't work that way."

“Look at the first goal. We may as well have been wearing St. Louis jerseys. It's unacceptable.”

AROUND THE RINKS: Veteran winger Jonathan Cheechoo had no points and a minus-5 rating as the Rivermen lost their first two games of their AHL season . . . Jake Allen stopped 31 of 34 shots Sunday, but Peoria fell 4-3 in the shootout at Charlotte . . . While Brian Elliott was validating his selection as the No. 2 goaltender for the Blues, fellow reserve Ben Bishop suffered a rough start at Peoria.  He lost his first game for the Rivermen while stopping 24 of 28 shots . . . Penguins star Sidney Crosby has resumed full-contact practicing, so he is getting ready to return to regular duty . . . The Blue Jackets are just one of many NHL teams off to a poor start. This has other teams sniffing the trail, including some interested in center Derick Brassard, a potential scoring line pivot who hasn’t quite developed in Columbus . . . Yes, bombastic analyst Don Cherry said he is sorry for his ill-advided tirade against former NHL enforcers . . . Oft-injured Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro is back on the shelf with a concussion after taking a shot off his temple during practice. Evgeni Nabokov played brilliantly in his absence Saturday night, priming the pump for a trade at some point in the season. Al Montoya is the third goaltender on the Isle . . . Defenseman Marco Scandella is assuming a major role early on for the Wild, a team that sacrificed defenseman Brent Burns to bulk up its front-line scoring . . . The Ottawa Sun reports that Flames general manager Jay Feaster is trying to unload veterans Olli Jokinen, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and David Moss . . . The Sun also notes that Canucks GM Mike Gillis would trade defenseman Keith Ballard, who has four years left on a contract that delivers an annual cap hit of $4.2 million a season . . . If anybody is interested, former third overall pick Kyle Turris remains unsigned in Phoenix and presumably available for acquisition.


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