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What a season opener! Not only was there a sellout crowd and the unveilling of the new Brett Hull statue outside Scottrade, but the Blues managed a very well deserved win.
The Blues came out hard and created chance after chance – only to be denied by the impressive Brian Boucher in the Flyers goal. There were 6 penalties in the first period with both teams getting 5 on 3 chances. The Blues took advantage and opened the scoring with 4 minutes left in the first period. An Erik Johnson laser of a shot was deflected by Boyes past Brian Boucher. Good to see Brad Boyes on the scoresheet so early in the season. The Flyers briefly came back at the end of the period but Halak stood strong and the Blues went in at intermission 1-0 up, having been outshot 9-6.
The second period saw the penalty count increase – 11 in all – but neither team could take advantage. Near the end of the period however, an almost game changing moment occured. Cam Janssen went for an innocent looking hit on Oskars Bartulis along the boards when he was absolutely levelled by teammate, Brad Winchester. Janssen was struck by Winchester’s elbow, forearm and stick, his head hitting the ice as he fell. Janssen was helped from the ice and didn’t return – mystifyingly being given a 2 minute charging penalty that was served by Matt D’Agostini. What was Winchester thinking, going for that hit? And why on earth can’t he hit opposition players like that?
It was a game changing moment – because when Janssen left the ice, the Blues lost a bit of momentum, they lost energy. The Blues were still playing well but suffered from a lack of confidence in front of goal – seemingly preferring to pass rather than shoot.
The third period saw the Blues outshot 14-6. They simply didn’t have the movement and creativity that they had in the first two periods. Jaroslav Halak made some excellent saves (but he really has to watch those rebounds) and the defence were throwing themselves in front of shots. Inevitably, something had to give and the Flyers tied the game through Daniel Briere who gave Halak no chance. It was Briere’s second goal in two games. The game went into overtime but not before David Perron almost sealed it for the Blues in the final few seconds – only being denied by another excellent save from Boucher.
For those of us used to the Blues attitude in overtime last season, this game was an eye opener. No longer were the Blues content to sit back and “play” for a shootout. They were aggressive, taking the game to the Flyers. Following Daniel Briere’s shot hitting the post, Barret Jackman sent the puck up the ice to Alex Steen, who had a couple of shots at Boucher before Carlo Colaiacovo smashed a rebound into the net. The Scottrade Center exploded with delight – and there’s a nice new touch with smoke coming out of the scoreboard when the Blues score.
A few points about the game:
- Blues powerplay – too many tic-tac-toe passes and not enough shots. They went 1 for 10 which is simply not good enough.
- The Blues penalty kill worked very well, blocking shots and not being drawn out of position.
- Alex Pietrangelo – didn’t look out of place. Some very nice touches – he deserves to be here.
- Cam Janssen – was a ball of energy out on the ice, dispensing hits and even at one point found himself in front of net with the puck on his stick. His shot was saved by Boucher.
- Matt D’Agostini – played well on a really good and energetic fourth line.
- The Blues defense deserve a pat on the back for their work and great shot blocking during the game.
A great start for the Blues – with Jaroslav Halak named player of the game. Cam Janssen was kept in hospital overnight and I’ll update his condition as it develops.
Next up, Anaheim at 1pm St Louis time, 6pm UK time on Monday. I’ll leave you with last night’s OT and Colaiacovo’s wonderful goal celebration: