Daily Grind 3.14

Blues Notes, NHL Realignment, Jake Long, and the Cardinals 5th starter.

The St. Louis Blues (14-10-2) and Phoenix Coyotes (13-10-3) are eerily similar teams. Both come into tonight 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

Both teams find offensive success funneling the puck on net. Phoenix averages 30.2 shots per game while the Blues average 27.9. Phoenix has found a way to put 270 shots on goal in the 3rd period this season. When scoring first, the Coyotes are 8-1-1 while the Blues are 10-4-1. The Blues have scored 30 first period goals, 2nd in the league to Pittsburgh.

Special Teams Report

Coyotes: 16.5% PP (19th) 82.2% PK (13TH)

Blues: 25.9% PP (2ND) 80.2% PK (16th)

Who to watch for:

Shane Doan owns 47 points in 65 games against the Blues. He’s netted 21 goals with 26 assists in his career.

Chris Stewart had four points against the Coyotes in a 6-3 win last week. He had two goals against San Jose on Tuesday, making it his 16th career multi-point effort as a Blue.

Patrik Berglund has a 5-game point streak (4-2-6). Berglund has 5 goals versus Phoenix dating back to last season.

Vladimir Sobotka has 6 goals and an assist in his last 7 games…67% on F/O over his last 4 games (46 for 69)

Alex Steen is expected back in the lineup tonight after missing 8 games with a shoulder injury sustained during a battle drill in practice.

In Net:

Jake Allen (6-1-0)

Mike Smith (11-7-2)

Expect a much tighter defensive game from the Coyotes. The 6-3 loss was their 3rd game in four nights including a back-to-back after a loss in Anaheim.

NHL REALIGNMENT

4 divisions total:

Division A* Division B*
Anaheim Chicago
Calgary Colorado
Edmonton Dallas
Los Angeles Minnesota
Phoenix Nashville
San Jose St. Louis
Vancouver Winnipeg
Division C* Division D*
Boston Carolina
Buffalo Columbus
Detroit New Jersey
Florida New York Islanders
Montreal New York Rangers
Ottawa Philadelphia
Tampa Bay Pittsburgh
Toronto Washington

The playoffs have also been changed, going to a division-based system. The top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs with the remaining top two clubs in each conference qualifying as wild cards. So in theory, for example, you could have five teams from one division make the playoffs and only three from another.

Almost every team cuts travel time except Florida and Tampa Bay.

No Detroit? No big deal.

NFL FREE AGENCY

Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis ColtsJake Long is currently hammering out contract details at Rams Park. Incentives, escalators, total years take time but expect this deal done before tomorrow. Funny, the Rams will have wound up with the top two picks from 2008.

The Vikings quickly swooped former Chiefs QB Matt Cassel…which proves their  suspect of Christian Ponder, their 12th overall selection in 2011.

Danny Amendola is a gamer and its been a privilege to watch his development. It became obvious he was much more than a practice squad player from Philadelphia as soon as he arrived. Amendola deserves credit for cracking the Sam Bradford chemistry code. Hopefully he left it for new tight end Jared Cook.

Ultimately, Amendola is replaceable. There are a lot of good slot receivers that don’t cost $35 million. Though I doubt he lives the length of his contract, Tom Brady will certainly find Amendola as an asset.

5TH SPOT

NLCS - St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants - Game TwoToday marked the final audition between Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller to crack the starting rotation.

Kelly threw 4 IP allowing three hits and one earned run. He struck out one and benefited from two double-plays.

Miller allowed three earned on six hits over 2.2 IP. Trevor Rosenthal allowed two of Miller’s runs to score.

This was Kelly’s competition to lose, and he didn’t. Miller could use some fine-tuning at Memphis … but injuries and performance will certainly bring Miller back at some point.

Thanks For Reading and Follow @DGrindSports

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