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New York Islanders vs. St. Louis Blues: Three (or more) questions with myself

In which I step outside myself to answer my questions.

Oh, hi.
Oh, hi.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I was raised to follow the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues, the two franchises that defined the final 30 years of Al Arbour's lengthy career in the NHL.

Since they rarely meet nor compete for the same spoils, I never stopped following either team. So here we are. On those rare occasions when they meet, I end up getting asked a lot of questions about one from the other team's fanbase.

So this time, as the Isles visit St. Louis following a stinker at home last night to the Boston Bruins, I decided to save everyone else the trouble and ask myself these questions. If you think following your [Islanders / Blues] has been a story of heartache, try following both.

(I guess those of you who are JIMs know the feeling too well. Touché.)

Three (or more) Questions about the Blues

Why do you guys always rule the regular season only to choke in the playoffs?

Way to start off at the jugular, jackass. Twenty years ago "the Cubs of the NHL" was a cute threat for this hockey team, 30 years into existence. Now in 2015 it's not so funny, more just accepted reality. The '90s were spent being assaulted by the anti-free agency NHL and its henchman Edward J. Houston, then competing against three well-funded giants in the pre-salary cap but suddenly pro-free agency NHL. The 2000s were filled with horribly timed injuries (2012-14), fluke goals (2000), flu outbreaks (2003) absentee owners (2003-2008) and...oh, well, just general choking (2000-2015).

If it ever turns someday, it won't make sense, it will just happen. Like the 2015 Mets. (Who are pond scum, by the way.)

Who are the Blues I should know about?

Hopefully you know Vladimir Tarasenko is deadly, but Jaden Schwartz is also young and scary good. (And as of yesterday's practice, out with a broken ankle.) Robbie Fabbri is promising. (And concussed.) Kevin Shattenkirk is an in-prime 1B star on the blueline (with a groin injury). The Blues overpaid Paul Stastny on a short deal to load up at forward, and he was off to a good start this year. (But now he has a broken foot.)

A serious bright spot you probably don't know: Defenseman Colton Parayko was a 5'8 nobody completely off scouts' radar and is now a 6'5 225-lb. behemoth who can skate, pass and shoot. He left U. of Alaska early to sign with the Blues last summer and so far it's like the hockey gods dropped a mini-Chara out of the sky and in the Blues' lap. So he'll probably get a major injury in February.

Why did you trade TJ Oshie?

Partly because of the number of young forwards mentioned above, and partly because they needed to clear salary to re-sign Tarasenko and Oshie was one of the few movable names that would do that. Oh, and because when you have a good team year after year that fails -- hard -- in the playoffs, there's just that feeling that some sort of "shakeup" is to be done. Fan-favorite but numbers-meh Oshie drew the short straw.

Finally, what do Blues fans think of the Islanders? Are they impressed?

We know you're the team with Thomas Vanek, that guy who blatantly kicked in that overtime goal. Heard a rumor that he signed with Minnesota, but we didn't see him in the playoffs last year.

We are vaguely aware your team has a new building. Didn't taxpayers build it or something? Did I hear the Knickees and Cosmos play there too? The East Coast Bias is very Yankees- and NFL-oriented, so pardon if the news didn't make it out this way.

We do know about John Tavares, because he's always on the fantasy rankings. Sometimes we pick him when we make our totally-not-gambling weekly donation to That Matt Moulson is always a great sleeper pick though, isn't he?

We also find it totally adorable when your expats preface rationalizations with, "Hey, I'm from New York/I'm a Yankees fan so...[that explains my talking out my ass]." It's a curious "I Get To Be A Dick" card that's only recognized in the city where it's issued! It's like the AAA International Driver's Permit of oblivious social ticks.

Oh, I heard there is some blogger guy here who never shuts up about the Islanders. Only Islanders fan I've heard of here though. No idea why. The Wayne Merrick connection, maybe?

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Three Questions(?) about the Islanders

Is Jaroslav Halak injured again yet? If you guys win a Cup with him, so help me Sutter, I'll kill you.

That's not...sorry, was that a question? Halak was hurt in preseason but he's okay now, we think. We like him okay. He sure beats his predecessors. And {cough} Ryan Miller.

What are the Isles' weaknesses?

Our coach tends to talk in "battle level" cliches and is wed to a grinder fourth line and a 7th defensemen who drives most fans nuts.

Oh. Oh our coach does that too.

Yes, but Barret Jackman was beloved and useful before he turned into Brian Strait. And Ken Hitchcock is a Proven Winner(TM), so...

That was so long ago Mike Milbury was still a coach. The trademark expired. Many fans think he's holding the Blues back. Anyway...

You guys realize you're lucky right? That Al Arbour was a Blues coach before his Cups, just like Scotty Bowman before him and Joel Quenneville after him?
Don't give me your Kansas City-Quebec fears, the Blues owner actually sold the team to Saskatoon and, upon being barred from doing that, abandoned the team and didn't participate in the 1983 draft. I don't care what you've been through the last 30 years, ya'll are still lucky enough to complain about where your championship banners are placed.

That's...that's not really a question either. But okay, I get it. We've all had our problems. One shouldn't compare pain.

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Enjoy the game. As you can see, this is why I hate sports and can only stomach following two of them.