Thrashers 3 – Blues 4 (S/O)

October 31, 2010

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Well, that was an interesting game – and the main talking point has to be Jay McClement’s first hattrick after 400 NHL games. The game was not a free flowing affair – the refs saw to that by penalising the Blues for the most innocent things. “Interference” seemed to be the official’s buzzword of the night with 4 interference calls on the Blues, 2 kneeing calls and 1 hooking call.

The Blues had an appalling first period. They looked slow, sluggish and with 3 penalties to kill in the first period alone, their much vaunted PK was disorganised and disjointed. The Trashers scored first – a powerplay goal from Peverley who snuck in to bury a rebound past Halak. However, the Blues tied the game minutes later when a shot from D’Agostini hit Jay McClement, who was laying on the ice, and popped past Pavelec. Ondrej Pavelec was making his first start since collapsing on the ice in his first game of the season on 8 October.

The goal was the only piece of good news in the first period for the Blues. Another powerplay goal for the Thrashers put them ahead once again. Antropov was left alone in front of net and scored following a rebound. The Thrashers third goal would have been pure comedy had it not hurt so much. The puck bounced into the Blues zone, Eric Brewer swiped at it and missed and Bergfors sent an unstoppable shot past Halak with 2 seconds left in the period.

The second period was slightly better for the Blues – they still couldn’t find their game but the defense was tighter. They started to create a couple of opportunities but there were still too many turnovers and Jaroslav Halak made some terrific saves to keep the Blues in the game. Only two penalties called in the second period, although the interference call on David Backes defied belief. It was merely a good and legal hit at center ice – but Backes was duly penalised for doing nothing more than playing good hockey.

In the third period, with the score still at 3-1, the Blues found themselves on the wrong side of the officials once again. The Blues were called for 3 penalties in the first 3 minutes of the game – complete insanity. However, it seemed like the team as a whole – not to mention the crowd – were just getting a bit annoyed at this. They started to click – they started to play the kind of hockey we’ve come to expect. Killing all 3 penalties including a huge 5 on 3, the Blues went on the offensive. They had 2 powerplays but they just couldn’t seem to get the PP working at all. Pavelec absolutely stoned Brad Boyes on one powerplay with an amazing glove save.

With just over 6 minutes left, Jay McClement tipped D’Agostini’s shot into the net and the Blues were well and truly back in the game. The crowd was loud and noisy and the Blues seemed to feed off their energy. Less than two minutes later, it was a tie game. Jay McClement completed his first NHL hattrick by tipping Pietrangelo’s shot past Pavelec. It was a great moment for one of the Blues most underrated players and, in the next stoppage in play, the Scottrade ice was literally littered with hats thrown from the crowd.

To chants of “Let’s Go Blues”, the final few minutes of regulation saw the Blues absolutely buzzing. The Thrashers though weren’t dead and buried and, once again, Halak came to the Blues rescue – and was barrelled into by Ben Eager for his trouble. The game went to overtime – a pretty even affair with 4 shots apiece – and when the shootout came, the crowd noise level went even higher.

TJ Oshie was first up for the Blues in the shootout – and he scored with a fantastic move. Pavelec got a pad to it but it wasn’t enough. Peveley fanned on his shot, the puck just sliding off his stick and next up for the Blues was Brad Boyes. Boyes might not be able to buy a goal in open play but he’s a sniper in the shootout. He proved it once again by ripping a shot over Pavelec’s glove. Halak then saved an attempt by Thrasher’s rookie, Burmistrov, to win the game for the Blues. Halak was mobbed by his teammates and the incredible noise from the crowd just kept going and going.

This was a character game for the Blues – this showed that, unlike last year, when this team gets into a hole they are quite capable of grinding themselves out of it. A few notes from the game:

  • Jaroslav Halak’s shutout streak ended at just over 160 minutes – not too shabby at all.
  • Matt D’Agostini and Alex Steen both picked up 2 assists each.
  • Alex Pietrangelo once again led the Blues in ice time with just over 27 minutes.
  • Nathan Oystrick registered an assist, was a +2 and had just over 11 minutes of ice time in his first game for the Blues.
  • It was the Blues fifth straight win on home ice this season.

Next up, the Blues face the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade, looking for their franchise equalling record of six straight wins to start the season at home. To keep you entertained in the meantime, check out the shootout from last night’s game:


Blues 3 – Predators 0

October 29, 2010

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So, the Blues have beaten the last two Stanley Cup Champions… and last night they inflicted this season’s first regulation loss on the Nashville Predators. And they did it in style.

Jaroslav Halak registered his second consecutive shutout – he’s now unbeaten for 151.10 minutes. The current Blues franchise shutout record is held by Manny Legace at 186.15 set in the 2007/2008 season. Halak has impressed his teammates. Speaking to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Alex Steen said: “It feels like key moments of a game, where we need a big stop, he makes them. We had a couple of mistakes in our own end, but ‘Jaro’ was big for us. He’s been very sound for us. He plays incredibly calm. He doesn’t get himself overworked at all.”

This attitude was echoed by Erik Johnson, speaking after the game to the Blues Official Site: “He is such a fun goalie to watch. He looks like he is not even trying. He is so effortless in his motion. There is no wasted energy with him. We feel so confident with him back there because he’s so cool, calm and collected. We know we can go on offense and he’ll be back there if we have any hiccups. He has been a great, great asset for us.”

Halak stoned the Predators on breakaways, was good with traffic in front of the net and has a great ability to see play develop and adjust accordingly. The Blues are drawing great confidence from having Halak in net – it’s allowing the defense to relax more, to get involved in offense – and it’s been quite a while since the Blues have had this.

The game wasn’t all about Halak though. It was a pretty even affair for the most part – with the Predators having some good chances with the occasional piece of sloppy play from the Blues. Alex Steen got his first goal of the season after 12 minutes of period 2 following some great work behind the net by David Perron. Patrik Berglund put the Blues 2 up after 13 minutes of period 3 pouncing on a rebound and smashing it past Rinne in the Predators net. It was Berglund’s 4th goal of the season so far. To show how far they’ve come, the Blues didn’t sit back on the lead and instead they went in for the kill. Matt D’Agostini wrapped it up with just under 5 minutes of the game left when he flipped the puck into the net from just in front of goal.

One of the big talking points of the game, apart from Halak, was the hit levelled on Colaiacovo by Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo was given a five minute major for charging and a game misconduct. It doesn’t appear there will be any further punishment from the NHL, however, judge the hit for yourselves:

However, the last words should go to Halak – who will start on Saturday against Atlanta knowing that if he posts a shutout for the first two periods of the game he’ll break Legace’s record:

“It feels great, but I wasn’t going into the game thinking about the last shutout I had. I was just thinking about trying to help the guys win a game. It’s even more special when it’s a shutout.”

So, until Saturday, here are the game highlights:


News and updates

October 27, 2010

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According to the Blues Official Site, Roman Polak is to undergo surgery on a severed tendon in his right wrist and will be out indefinitely.

The Blues have, therefore, recalled defenseman Nathan Oystrick from Peoria. So far this season, Oystrick has played 10 games for the Rivermen, registering 3 goals and 4 assists.

The Blues have also activated Cam Janssen from IR.


Updates…

October 25, 2010

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Roman Polak, who left the game against the Penguins with a lacerated wrist, will miss Thursday’s game against Nashville.  He will be re-evaluated after but is questionable for Saturday’s game against Atlanta.   There is not expected to be a call-up from Peoria as Tyson Strachan should step in.

Jaroslav Halak was named the NHL’s 2nd Star of the Week with a 2-0-1 record with a 1.62 goals against average, .944 save percentage and one shutout.  It was Halak’s 10th NHL shutout and his first as a Blue.


Penguins 0 – Blues 1 (O/T)

October 24, 2010

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As has now been stated practically everywhere, the Blues have beaten the last two years Stanley Cup Champions on consecutive nights.  If they wanted to make a statement, they couldn’t have picked a better opportunity.  The Blues are 4-0 at home this season – and are currently on a 10 game winning streak at Scottrade.

Again, the Blues came out hard and determined and were very unlucky to go in at the end of the first still tied 0-0.  They had two powerplays but couldn’t find a way past former Blue, Brent Johnson, in the Penguin goal.  The Blues outshot the Penguins 7-3 in the first – the game shaping up to be very much a battle between the two goaltenders.

The second period was the game changer.  The Penguins outshot the Blues 19-7 with Jaroslav Halak making some superb saves and the Blues defense doing a sterling job in closing off lanes.  There were scrums in the Blues crease with the Blues D protecting Halak – one of the best moments being when Roman Polak wrestled Sidney Crosby away from Halak.  The main thing was that the Blues survived everything that the Penguins threw at them in that second period.

The third period was pretty even with the Penguins just outshooting the Blues by 9-8.  No Polak on ice (he’d left the game after slicing his right arm) meant the Blues were short on defense – but the Penguins still couldn’t find a way through.   There was a feeling though that the Blues might just snatch this game and went it went into overtime, Erik Johnson provided the winner after great work by Oshie along the boards.  The sellout crowd erupted and the Blues deservedly took the two points.

  • Alex Pietrangelo looks like he belongs out there – he had the highest ice time of the Blues in the game.
  • Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had a combined 10 shots – but still couldn’t get past their nemesis, Jaroslav Halak.
  • T J Oshie might not lead the Blues in scoring but he’s pretty much an assist machine at the moment.  Strong on the puck and strong along the boards, he provided a neat pass to Erik Johnson for the game winner.
  • Eric Brewer had one of his best games as a Blue.   He’s worked hard this season, is aggressive and very controlled in defense.
  • Jaroslav Halak – 31 saves in an excellent performance that saw him named the game’s number 1 star.  He’s cool and calm, focussed and confident .  The rest of the team seem to sense this as they pick up on Halak’s confidence – it adds another dimension, allows players to be a bit more relaxed.

The Blues have another rest now – and play again on Thursday against Nashville.  Expect Halak in goal again.  Hopefully, Roman Polak will be fit enough to play.  In the meantime, here is overtime in it’s entirety…not that there was a lot of it:

 


Blackhawks 2 – Blues 4

October 23, 2010

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See?  It IS possible for the Blues to hold a lead in the third period and win the game.   Another sellout crowd at Scottrade saw the Blues nail the Blackhawks in an entertaining game.

The Blues came out hard and determined – with big hits, speed and hard forechecking (just check out the hit Colaiacovo lays on Jack Skille in the highlights).  They were duly rewarded for their work when Oshie and Perron forced a turnover in the Hawks zone.  Oshie laid off a pass to Perron who blasted the puck over Turco’s shoulder and off the crossbar into the net.   David Perron is on fire at the moment – he’s working hard out on the ice, he’s gritty and speedy and is now reaping the rewards.

Unfortunately the Blues couldn’t hold the lead and a few minutes later, Patrick Sharp levelled the game with a powerplay goal.  The Blues’ penalty kill seemed at sixes and sevens with Jay McClement in the penalty box and they left Patrick Sharp completely free to send a one timer past Halak.  To be fair, Jaroslav Halak had no chance on this one – he was actually being screened by two of his own players: Oshie and Backes.  At the end of P1, the game was tied and the Blues had outshot the Blackhawks 12-8.

In the second period, the Blues seemed to allow the Blackhawks back into the game a bit more.  They didn’t relax – but they just didn’t have quite the intensity of the first period.  However, once again the Blues pulled ahead in the game with a highlight reel goal from that man again: David Perron.  He just seems to have Turco’s number.   Just seconds after a Blues powerplay ended, Perron took the puck up the ice, passed to Oshie who quickly passed it back.  A neat toe drag to his backhand and the puck was in the net.  Fabulous goal.

Again, the Blues couldn’t hold the lead and the Blackhawks levelled it with a goal just as their powerplay ended.  A shot from Seabrook deflected off the heel of Oshie’s stick and past Halak.  Again, not much chance for the goalie who, it must be said, made some excellent saves.  So, a tie game at the end of the second with the Blackhawks just outshooting the Blues by 9-7.

The third period saw the Blues get a bit of their mojo back and took the lead when Roman Polak prodded a harmless looking shot towards goal.  Turco was screened by Backes and the puck somehow found it’s way into the net.   A one goal lead in the third – last year the Blues would have folded.  Not this game.  They continued to work hard and were aggressive throughout.  The game was sealed with a powerplay goal from Patrik Berglund with less than two minutes to play.

Kudos to the Blues for a good game.  The three stars were David Perron, Jaroslav Halak and Roman Polak.   And for your entertainment, check out David Perron’s 2nd goal of the game – it’s a doozy:

 


Roster Update

October 17, 2010

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With Vladimir Sobotka now off IR and cleared to play, Ryan Reaves has been sent back to Peoria.

Sobotka will center the fourth line alongside Matt D’Agostini and Brad Winchester.  It’s going to be very interesting to see what Sobotka can do  – Boston Bruins GM, Peter Chiarelli, described him as “a wrecking ball, a real competitive kid”.

Sobotka should get his first game against Chicago on Monday.