Well where do we begin on this week for the Blues? I could point out all the negative things that I noticed in the 3 games this week. I could talk about all the positives as we move forward in the season. I could talk about how injuries and poor team defensive play left the team with little to no shot at winning any games this week. I could blame the officiating, I could blame the goaltending or I could even blame the lockout for some reason. Or I could just say the complete obvious as a Blues fan. That week sucked.
Bringing home one point out of a possible six with all the games being on home ice is just unacceptable.
If you’re going to be considered a true threat in this league, you have to win games at home, you have to win games against rivals, you have to over come injuries, you have to win games that you have no business winning. The Blues didn’t do that this week, and don’t look now, but the season is almost a quarter done.
When Jaroslav Halak went down with an injury, it was a prime chance for Brian Elliott to prove that he belongs in the spotlight as this team’s number one goalie. He did not do that against the Preds. No in fact, he allowed 4 goals on 11 shots and made his coach say, “Hey, I would rather put in a goalie that has never faced a shot in the NHL in there and see how he does.” Jake Allen, made his NHL regular season debut and stopped 6 of 8 shots. I originally had NHL debut, however he technically played in the playoffs last year against the Kings, when Hitch put him out to buy some time for his players without a timeout left. Anyway, the Blues sucked this game. The Predators, who by the way, were averaging a LEAGUE WORST 1.5 goals per game, decided to play some offensive zone hockey and won the game 6-1. Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues on a backhander, providing the only, and I mean only, bright spot for the team this game. The Blues worst outing of the season. Or so we thought.
Okay, so we lost to Nashville at home, surely we can rebound against our biggest rival, the Detroit Red Wings and come away with a big win right? Nope. Before I put my thoughts on this game, I first would like to express how much I hate Detroit. Like full on hate. I hate their team, I hate their legacy, I hate their broadcasters, I hate the fact that I have to see that stupid Steve Yzerman goal countless times a season (Great back checking by the way Gretzky), and I hate how the get every call in every game. That being said, I was more confident in the Blues winning this game than at any point in the season. Detroit started a rookie goaltender making his NHL debut in Petr Mrazek, and St. Louis did their best to make him look like a hall of famer. From what I saw, most of the shots hit him square in the chest, he rarely had to make a rebound save and didn’t have much trouble all night. Alex Pietrangelo scored again on the powerplay and for the second straight night that was all the offence for the team. The Red Wings won the game 5-1 and Brian Elliott did not play good… Again.
Anaheim came to town on Saturday night, and it looked like the Blues were back to playing the kind of hockey we’re use to seeing. Alex Steen sniped on the powerplay, Captain America got his first of the season with an opposing goalie in net (second overall), and David Perron capped off the period by giving the team some insurance heading into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead. The one goal that the Ducks got by the way, was a weak wrist shot that got juggled by Brian Elliott, and found its way in the net. About half way through the second I found myself sitting back and relaxed saying to myself that this was a for sure two points. Almost instantly, the Ducks figured out a great game plan. Shooting the puck on a goalie that has been struggling. 3 goals within a minute and 41 seconds and the Ducks lead 4-3 heading into the 3rd period. Early in the 3rd, TJ Oshie tied it on one of the weirdest goals you will ever see, on a play caused by the big body presence (Pierre McGuire flashback) of David Backes. The Ducks took the lead right back on their first shot in 9 minutes. WITH JUST UNDER 6 AND A HALF MINUTES LEFT IN REGULATION. Now, you mean to tell me that the Blues defence held the opposition for 9 minutes without a shot and the first one they get goes in? That is on the goaltender. Chris Stewart, who is playing phenomenal by the way, tied it on the power play to send us to overtime. In this game I noticed that Tarasenko rarely got open enough to create any impact, however he is one of the more dynamic players on the team and in a 4 on 4 situation, he got zero shifts in the extra frame. That is not right from my perspective. The Blues than scored in overtime to win the game but the goal was called back on a terrible call. The officials, who actually let both teams play hockey this game, finally decide to make an appearance and wave off an Ian Cole OT winner, claiming that Patrick Berglund was interfering with the goalie. Which he was, but you have to ask yourself if you’re an official in that situation. How did he end up that far into the crease? Berglund was clearly pushed, not once, but twice before Ian Cole scored and had no chance of moving. Goal should have counted, it did not and we end up in a skills competition. Oh yay. The Ducks won in the back and forth shootout where twice Brian Elliott had a chance to secure the extra point for the Blues but got beat both times. Something I noticed in the shootout was that Patrick Berglund got a chance to shoot before Andy MacDonald, usually a shootout regular. For the record, Bergs is now 0 for 10 in shootouts.
Blues Miscellaneous Notes:
Jake Allen, who made his debut this week against the Preds was told after the Ducks game, that he would get his first NHL start if Halak wasn’t ready. Well, he got sent down to Peoria, so all signs point to Halak being good to go. Jaime Langenbrunner announced that he will need hip surgery and is done for the season. I always liked Langs on the team, and even with him being a healthy scratch for most of the year, he was always a true leader and professional. While I think him returning to the Blues might be a long shot next year, I hope he catches on somewhere and gets to continue his great NHL career.
I do expect Chris Porter to get called up at some point this week. In 8 games with the Rivermen this year, Porter has four goals and two assists. The Blues lead the league in Power play percentage at a 36.6 success rate. The next closest by the way is Tampa at 28.3%. You want to guess who has had the most power plays this year? Go ahead guess. Well surely it couldn’t be the Detroit Red Wings that would be way to easy to guess right? Well it is true, 61 man advantages in 12 games for an average of just over 5 per game. But yeah they don’t get all the calls.
The Blues have to bounce back. It is that simple. In a shortened season, you don’t have many chances to go on losing streaks, especially at home. They host the Kings on Monday night, head to Detroit on Wednesday (oh joy), head off to Calgary to play the Flames on Friday night, before visiting Vancouver next Sunday. I know technically the week begins on Sunday, but in terms of the time I write my next blog, it counts as this up coming week. I’m not making predictions this week because the last two weeks have been terrible and I don’t want to higher my expectations.
Remember to follow me on twitter @kfox9611 and we’ll talk some St. Louis puck. Let’s go Blues!