Blackhawks 2 – Blues 4

March 31, 2010

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Always  nice to beat the Blackhawks – even nicer when it means that the Blues playoff hopes are still alive.  Just – but they are still alive.  As usual for games against the Blackhawks, it was a physical and hard hitting game.

It started badly for the Blues.  Play broke down too often in the offensive zone leaving the Blues defense charging back trying to stop a few breakaways.   Cam Janssen tried to set the tone by fighting Ben Eager a couple of minutes after the start but a misunderstanding between Oshie and Backes led to Patrick Sharp being given an unimpeded run at Chris Mason for the Blackhawk’s first goal.   The ever impressive Alex Steen pulled the Blues level when he zipped the puck past Niemi in the Blackhawks goal – courtesy of a great screen by Jay McClement.  The Blackhawks pulled ahead again after a puck bounced over Eric Brewer’s stick giving Jonathan Toews a chance.  His shot was saved by Mason but the rebound was slotted home by Marian Hossa.

The Blues tied the game early in the second period with a rocket of a shot from Eric Brewer from the blueline.  Amazingly, it wasn’t tipped and went straight in.  Janssen kept the energy going by fighting Nick Boynton near the end of the period – and got a game misconduct for his troubles.  It appears that he hit Boynton when the officials were separating them…and also had his arm out of the sleeve of his jersey to give himself more room to throw a punch.  It was a pretty even period with both teams having 11 shots.

The third period was where the Blues pushed harder.  Although they were outshot 11-9 in this period, the Blues didn’t have a powerplay – whereas the Blackhawks had one powerplay midway through the period but were unable to capitalise.  It was that man, Alex Steen, who put the Blues ahead – combining with David Backes and Erik Johnson to slot the puck home.   Erik Johnson added a fourth goal later after the Blackhawks were caught puckwatching and he nipped in unseen to score past Niemi.

Paul Kariya didn’t come out for the second period – he has a lower body injury and is listed as “day to day”.  Word is that Kariya will have tests but will not accompany the team on the trip to Nashville for tomorrow’s game.  In his absence, Alex Steen will take Kariya’s place on the top line with Oshie and Backes.  Steen did brilliantly on this line in the Blackhawks game and he’s definitely deserved  his chance.

Anyway – your game reports:

  • The Blues Official Site has the recap, highlights and interviews with Alex Steen, Erik Johnson, Chris Mason and Davis Payne.
  • St Louis Game Time is happy that the Blues kept the Blackhawks recent slump alive and discusses the rivalry.
  • Jeremy Rutherford of the Post Dispatch sums up the game and gives Alex Steen some kudos – comments from Alex “The Steen Machine” Steen, Davis Payne, Erik Johnson and Chris Mason.

This very odd playoff run continues in Nashville on Thursday.


Oilers 1 – Blues 2

March 29, 2010

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Once again, the Blues were lacklustre at times but, more importantly, they came through to win the game and pick up a very important two points.  With the LA Kings stuttering with only 1 win in the last 7 games and the Colorado Avalanche having lost their last 2 games, things are getting very interesting in the final couple of playoff spots.  Patrik Berglund sat this game out – having missed practice on Saturday due to having overslept.

The Blues kept themselves alive with a win following an awful first period.  They looked tired and with four turnovers it was odds on that the Oilers would finally put one of their chances away.   Patrick O’Sullivan intercepted a pass from Barret Jackman, raced into the Blues zone and slotted the puck calmly past Chris Mason.  Once again, there were some awful calls from the officials – including a high stick on Roman Polak that caused him to leave the ice bleeding…and yet the officials somehow managed to completely miss it.  The Oilers outshot the Blues 10-7 in the first period.

Davis Payne obviously had words with the team during the intermission because it was a more energised team that took the ice in the second period.  Outshooting the Oilers by 16-6, the Blues got their just reward in the 10th minute when Erik Johnson scored a powerplay goal with a perfect slapshot from the blue line to tie the game.  Kudos must go to the Oilers goaltender, Dubnyk, for some great saves the keep the game at 1-1.

It took until the 8th minute of the third period for the Blues to go ahead – and things were pretty even in this period with the shot totals at 8-8.   An Alex Steen shot from the point was tipped by both Brad Winchester and Keith Tkachuk on it’s way to the back of the net.  Tkachuk got the final touch – scoring his 13th of the season on his 38th birthday.

Okay – your game reports:

Tomorrow, the Blues face the Blackhawks – once again at Scottrade.  The Blues will also be paying tribute to Paul Kariya and his 400th career goal prior to the game.  EDIT: This has now been moved to Monday 5 April 2010.

Kings 1 – Blues 3

March 26, 2010

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Well, this is more like it.  Even though there were times the Blues were flat and listless, for the majority of the game they looked like a team who WANTED to win.  Thankfully, despite the best efforts of the officials to skew the game towards the Kings, the Blues did manage to pull out a deserved win.

There was a succession of very questionable calls throughout the game and the Blues penalty kill showed exactly why it’s rated number 1 in the NHL  with an 86.1 percentage.  The Blues were on the board first – a 2 on 1 breakaway with Crombeen and Janssen resulting in Crombeen’s 7th of the season.  The Blues killed off three penalties in the first period – including a 5 on 3.

The Blues made it 2-0 in the second when TJ Oshie got his 16th of the season following a shot from Kariya that found it’s way to him via Keith Tkachuk.  The Blues DID actually get a powerplay this period…but it was cut short after Carlo Colaiacovo was called for high sticking to even things up.

The third period was…strange.  The Blues found themselves on the penalty kill only 15 seconds into the period.    A kerfuffle in front of the Blues net saw both Barret Jackman and Erik Johnson called for roughing along with Sean O’Donnell of the LA Kings.  A strange call but there’s no arguing with the officials.  The Blues managed to kill that one but in the third minute, Erik Johnson was once again given a roughing penalty and, on the resulting powerplay, the Kings scored.  2-1 and the crowd started getting nervous.  For once, there was no need to worry – Paul Kariya scored his 18th of the season with 6 minutes left in the game.

The goal was reviewed because, although it was clear to the players that the puck crossed the line, the officials needed “persuading”.    Saner heads prevailed in Toronto and the goal stood.  The Blues were deserved 3-1 winners and their playoff chances are still alive – just.  Both Roman Polak and Keith Tkachuk returned to the lineup for this game.

Your game reports:

Next up, the Blues play the Oilers on Sunday at Scottrade.

Blues 2 – Red Wings 4

March 25, 2010

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It’s getting a bit tired now – and this game was probably one of the final nails in the coffin of the Blues playoff hopes. A couple of bad goals, an inability to capitalise on the powerplay (especially a 4 minute PP) and a quite surprising lack of passion and/or energy in the final few minutes. They were only 1 goal down at that point – but it didn’t look as though they were even trying.

It started well – with a superlative goal from Paul Kariya. He just surged past the Wings defence as though they were standing still and fired the puck past Jimmy Howard. The jury is out as to whether he’s playing for a contract or whether he’s finally fit. I’ll go for the latter option. His hips are good – he’s shaken the rust off and he’s got great chemistry with his linemates. Bring him back? You bet. But not for $6m a year. If he’d accept $2.5m to £3m then I’d snatch his hand off.

So – the Blues go in at the end of P1, 1-0 up. They must have known what would happen. The entire world knew that the Wings would come out hard in the second – except for the Blues it seems. The Wings tied the game within 30 seconds of the restart. The Blues went behind a few minutes later following a Bertuzzi goal that was under review briefly but finally called as a good goal which, to be fair, it was. Then came a high sticking call – and a four minute powerplay for the Blues…which they wasted. A couple of good attacks but the puck was constantly flipped out of the zone by the Wings.

The third period started well when Jay McClement tied the game after just over 2 minutes. The team were playing well, Conklin made some good saves and the energy level seemed high. Then, with just under seven minutes left in the game, a shot from the blue line hit Conklin and bounced right into the path of Filppula who flipped the puck into the net. That goal seemed to take the wind out of the Blues. Even after pulling Conklin in the final couple of minutes for the extra attacker, they seemed lacklustre – and the empty net goal for the Wings was an obvious conclusion.

So basically the Blues have 9 games left and are 10 points behind the Red Wings who are in the final playoff spot. It’ll take the Blues winning all their remaining games and hoping for a mini Wing collapse in order for them to make the playoffs. But maybe it’d be for the best if they don’t make it. Maybe it’ll shock them into life a bit – because those final few minutes were atrocious.

Anyway – your game reports:

I can’t wrap this up without putting up the video of Kariya’s wonderful goal last night.  Enjoy – we don’t know how much longer he’ll be wearing the jersey for:

Ian Cole signs ATO with Blues

March 23, 2010

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Ian Cole, the Blues’ 18th overall pick in 2007, has signed an Amateur Try Out contract with the Blues and will head to Peoria.

An ATO contract will allow Cole to play in Peoria for the rest of the season without it affecting the  three year entry level contract that he’s expected to sign in the summer.

Source: Blues Official Site – Ian Cole Announcement

Predators 3 – Blues 2

March 22, 2010

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Well, this isn’t a new scenario, is it?  The Blues give up two goals in the final four minutes and lose a crucial game.  It’s pretty unbelievable how a team can play so well on the road and yet be bloody awful on home ice.  They seem to be so afraid to lose at home…that they back themselves into a corner.   The final few minutes of the game were like a shooting gallery.  The Blues unable to clear the puck from their own zone whilst Chris Mason was bombarded from all angles.  Whether you were watching at the stadium or on tv, the outcome was obvious to see.

Opposing teams who come to Scottrade know one thing very well: if you bombard the Blues late in the third period, they WILL wither and wilt and give up crucial goals.   The team need to break this mindset.  Davis Payne is having a definite effect – the team are more aggressive but they do have a tendency to slip back into their old ways.

However, the good points were that Carlo Colaiacovo scored a powerplay goal, Chris Mason made some great saves, David Perron got on the scoreboard and the line of Backes, Kariya and Oshie continues to show improvement.   It’s going to be very interesting to see whether Colaiacovo and/or Kariya are back next season.

If the Blues miss the playoffs – and to be honest, it’s looking more and more likely that they will – then they only have themselves to blame.  A bad first half of the season; appalling home record; lots of 1 goal losses; awful powerplay…the list goes on.  There’s also the mindset of the players.  They are confident – which is all well and good – but are they TOO confident perhaps?  You get the impression that they are convinced they can turn it on in the last few games and stroll into the playoffs – that they’ll repeat what happened last year.  If that IS the case, then maybe it’ll be better in the long run for the team to miss out this year.  Maybe they need to learn that you need to play not only for a full 60 minutes a game…but also play 82 games a season…and not just decide to play in the last half of the season.

Anyway – enough.  Your game reports:

So, where do we go from here?  The Blues play Detroit on Wednesday – which should be interesting.

Blues 1 – Devils 0

March 21, 2010

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The Blues picked up two vital points with a hard fought win against the Devils. Alex Steen’s rocket of a goal with thirteen seconds remaining in period 1 proved to be the game winner with Ty Conklin picking up his fourth shutout of the season.

The first period was evenly paced – the Blues just outshooting the Devils by 8-7. No minor penalties were called in the first period but the game was livened up early on with a marathon fight between Cam Janssen and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Lablond. The fight lasted 2 minutes, 40 seconds and Janssen waved the officials away numerous times. I’d mark the fight down as a draw but kudos to both players for an epic that had the New Jersey crowd on it’s feet in appreciation.

The Blues went into intermission 1-0 up thanks to an absolute laser from Alex Steen. Barret Jackman sent the puck up the left to Steen who carried it fast into the New Jersey zone and rifled a stunning shot past Martin Brodeur. It was a gem of a goal – worthy of a game winner and something Steen had been working on in practice.

The Devils wound up their game in the second – outshooting the Blues 13-6. Both teams each had a powerplay opportunity but the Blues PP in particular seems to be misfiring badly. In fact, they had zero shots on their first powerplay. The Devils could have tied the game early in the second when Ilya Kovalchuk picked up a rebound from Conklin and attempted a wraparound. Brad Boyes was alive to the danger however and stopped the puck with his stick and skates.

With the Blues up 1-0, a very crucial third period saw more powerplay opportunities including a 4 on 3 for the Devils when Eric Brewer and Jamie Langenbrunner were called for minors – and shortly afterwards, Roman Polak joined Eric Brewer in the penalty box. Good defensive play from the Blues and excellent goaltending from Ty Conklin and they killed off the 4 on 3 and 5 on 4.

There was a worrying moment for the Blues near the end of the game when Roman Polak was sent crashing into the boards following a hard shove and slash from Parise and Zajac. Amazingly – or not so amazingly if you follow the Blues regularly – the officials somehow managed to miss it entirely and there was no call on the play. Polak was helped off the ice but fears were allayed somewhat this morning when Jeremy Rutherford tweeted that “Roman Polak appears to be fine after nasty crash into boards.”

Great win for the Blues – and they’ve now swept the New York teams for the first time in their history in the same season. Follow that up with their Western Canada sweep from earlier in the season, the fact that the Blues penalty kill is ranked #1 on the road and that they have the most road wins in the NHL this season just highlights how bad they’ve been at home. Not to mention the weak powerplay. But – let’s keep the momentum going – the Blues face Nashville tonight (at home) in another vital matchup.

So, your game reports:

Kudos to Alex Steen – Blues need to re-sign this guy – and Ty Conklin with 29 saves.  Look for Chris Mason to get the start against Nashville.