The Blues were victorious last night, beating the Kings 2-1 in OT to take a 1-0 series lead. Here are some immediate reactions…
•This is a different team- This team isn’t the same one that got swept last year. After the 1st period I saw something familiar, the performance last night looked a LOT like last year’s dominating team. But they learned a hard lesson, this team won’t be taking useless minors or have the goal tending fall apart.
•The 4th line is playing OUT OF THEIR MINDS- The line of Adam Cracknell, Ryan Reaves and Chris Porter has come out of nowhere. They’ve been playing SO well that Hitchcock kept out Taresanko just to keep this line together. Reeve’s is playing more physical than ever and Cracknell is all over the ice. Every time this line is on the ice, the Blues have the advantage.
A physical MONSTER
•Brian Elliot has his confidence back- Brian Elliot is back to his old form. In March who saw this coming? Halak was doing OK and Jake Allen was giving this team a big boost. Elliot was even in Peoria at one point. His timely saves last night were phenomenal.
•If the Kings win this series, it will be because of Jonathon Quick– Once again Quick was fantastic last night. The 1st period should have ended 3-0 but Quick kept them in the game. At one point he made a stretching save with the tip of his skate! Absolutely incredible.
It’s no surprise this game was so close, it’s going to be a long and very exciting series. Long live the Note!
Who are these Blues?
I’m not going to pretend and act like I’m an intelligent hockey fan. I started following the St. Louis Blue’s after I was inspired by my perhaps all time favorite movie: Miracle On Ice. I have such respect for those guys. Hockey players are REAL athletes. There’s a reason why there are so many line changes a game. It’s just so fantastically fast paced and gets your heart pumping in those final minutes. I’m just a self indulged, fascinated amazed, typical fan who loves the sport. That has lead me to these crazy Blues. So frustratingly inconsistent but so beautiful. When these young players play to their potential, it’s a beautiful thing. So perfectly executed.
So who are these Blues?
- The enigmatic offense that has more than enough talent, but can’t get the puck in the net. A team that loses it’s head with “Too many men on the ice” penalties. A team where the top forwards are struggling so much that guys like Adam Cracknell have to step up just so we can score. Maybe we’ll never find that consistency, maybe we’ll always be just average.
- The kind of team that can steal a Stanley Cup. The kind of team that turns it on in those last beautiful minutes to snatch those overtime victories. The team that CHOKES it’s opponents for the puck and keeps grinding out shots. The team with a goal tender that just CAN’T be stopped. The team that stifles you in the bouncy Scott Trade Center no matter WHO you are.
St. Louis Blues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This team has come a long way in this short season. It started out with good “ole Halak dominating and Tarasenko putting on a clinic. Later shifted to Jake Allen showing why he was a 2nd round pick. Elliot fell off the map, fans demanded a trade. But where are we now? Back to that traditional winning formula with Elliot absolutely locked in.
It’s a frustrating thing, these Blues. One night we see complete domination in #2. We win 5 in row and then we decide not score anymore and fall into #1 above, promptly losing the next 3. Some goals given up are just so ugly that you want shield your eyes. Then the next night we see Backes going all over the ice like a maniac, hitting and putting shots on goal. This is Backes’s team. It has to be.
So what do we expect?
Last night showed me who the Blues are. The over time wins over Vancouver and Phoenix showed me how much the Blues want it. I love how tough this team is. This team is going to get good goal tending and is just going to have to grind out it’s wins. It’s going to have to keep playing EXCELLENT defense and PK and just FIND A WAY to get to puck in the net. The Blues aren’t ever going to be anything fancy. It’s going to be ugly. But Hitchcock knows it’s time. There only 6 games left. The Blues can’t afford to ever be #1 again. Dig deep and enjoy the ride.
Buffalo Sabres (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
GM Doug Armstrong has acquired Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold in exchange for a 2nd round pick and a conditional 5th rounder. If the Blues win a playoff series the pick will be changed to a 4th rounder. It appears the Blues have addressed their defenseman need in the short-term. Leopold has appeared in 24 games and has posted 2 goals and 8 assists. Doug Armstrong has suggested that he can play with either Shattenkirk or Petro but wasn’t Wade Redden supposed to do that? Where does this leave Barret Jackman? Leopold is a solid veteran but I question if this was enough. He isn’t a scoring threat.
corresponding with this move the Blues have sent Jake Allen to Peoria. Armstong said that we will go with the Halak/Elliot pair the rest of the season. What ever happened to that spark Allen gave the Blues? It’s time for the core of the 109 point season last year to step it up. It’s clear Hitch would rather go with the veterans, and really, there isn’t a reasonable trade that Armstrong can pull off that is going to magically fix the Blues. It’s going to take more effort from the main core to do that. Leopold will be solid, but he won’t save the Blue’s season.