Saturday, April 7, 2018

Patrik, Berglund, Bergie! Hat-Trick Leads Blues to 4-1 Win in Chicago

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks - Game 81 Recap
Goals: Berglund (15,16,17) and Schwartz (23)
Record 44-31-6
My thoughts on this game

  • I'm thinking now that maybe we were a little too hard on Patrik Berglund early on this season. Maybe the shoulder injury that caused him to miss 24 games to start the season affected him more than we realized. Whether that's true or not, he certainly has turned his game up a few notches since he was called out and benched a few weeks ago.
  • If you didn't see the game or read anything about it yet, (by the way...where have you been?!) Berglund had a hat trick in this one. He has now scored 8 goals and has 9 points in his last 10 games. He's playing like a new man. 
  • Carter Hutton got the start in this one, and in a rare move the Blues called up Ville Husso as the backup so that Jake Allen could have a complete night off and be totally rested for the must-win game tomorrow night in Denver against the Avalanche. 
  • The Blues need to just secure one point to earn their 7th straight playoff appearance. This marks the first time in the history of the team that it has come down to the last game in order to secure their spot.
  • The only other thing I thought the Blues could have done was to have sent Jake on out to Colorado a couple of days early in order to give him a little more time to adjust to the altitude. It sounds like they thought of everything else, why not?
  • The Blues had several chances early on in this game but missed out on those opportunities until Berglund tipped a Joel Edmundson shot that found it's way into the net with just 1:43 left in the first period.
  • Chicago tied it on a shot by Erik Gustafsson who caught Hutton not hugging the near post. I'm sure many of our minds raced back to just two nights earlier when we saw the Blues collapse in the final period against these same Blackhawks.
  • We weren't allowed to daydream for long, though. Bergulicious scored his 2nd goal just 16 seconds later. In fact, the PA announcer hadn't even announced the Gustafsson goal yet before the Big Swede poked home a rebound after Robert Bortuzzo's shot hit Kyle Brodziak in the back. Bergie knocked it out of the air into the net. It may have bounced before he hit it but it sounds better if you say he hit it out of mid-air.
  • Poor Chicago fans didn't even get to cheer about their goal as the St. Louis goal put them back in front. It would turn out to be the game-winner.
  • They added to the lead when one of my two favorite players, Brayden Schenn got in on the forecheck and just absolutely stole the puck from someone. It was just a flat hustle play. Mr. Hustle, we should call him. I love athletes who hustle! It makes up for so much. I always tried to hustle, no matter what and I just can't get enough of seeing it. They called Pete Rose "Charlie Hustle" and I think Schenn deserves a similar moniker. 
  • Anyway, I digress. Schenn 'pinched in', as they say, and got the puck. He took it straight to the back of the net and looked for his little buddy, Jaden Schwartz, (my other favorite player). He found him right where he knew he'd be, in the slot in front of the goal. Jaden wasted no time in putting the puck past the Chicago goalie. 
  • Side note, I even contemplated having "SchwartzSchenn" put on the back of my jersey. Then, I thought "HirSchwartz" or "HirSchenn". My last name is Hirsch, so I thought it would be clever, but decided against it as I felt most would be confused and would have led to questions I'd rather not answer.
  • Bergie got an empty-net goal for his 2nd career hat trick. I was listening to the game on the radio and was in a Target store at the time. I didn't have a hat on, but I was in the men's clothing section. The clerk paged security when I started throwing hats, but the situation was diffused when I offered to pick them all up and explained that I was a Blues fan.
  • Randomness: Chicago is FAST at getting it up ice when they get the puck. Did anyone else notice that? I mean when they got possession, they were moving in the other direction immediately on the attack. Impressive.
  • More randomness: Kyle Brodziak is another guy who could be one of my favorite players if Schenn and Schwartz weren't already there. So could a lot of other Blues players. I don't dislike any of them. I just have my favorites. Anyway, Brodziak is a player that I'm not sure we realize where we'd be without him. He is a lifetime 49.7% faceoff guy. However, in the last 5 games he has won 59.5%, many in key situations. In the game Wednesday against Chicago he won 10 of 13 for 76.9%. 
  • I've got a Kyle Brodziak autographed "Military" themed puck, and that's the way I think of him. I think of him as a soldier. He gives his heart and soul for the good of the team every night and we are lucky to have him. I hope he's back again next year.
  • On to Colorado. All we have to do is get it to overtime, but I hope we put it to them early and often.  Let's not sit back and 'hope' we get to overtime. Let's get it done early, boys!
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Blackhawks Deliver Heartbreaker in Final Seconds

Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues - Game 80 Recap
Goals: Bortuzzo (4), Schenn (27) and Tarasenko (33)
Record 43-31-6 
My thoughts on this game

  • I went to this game. I was sick to my stomach when I left. What a disappointing loss! I almost didn't write a recap, I was so upset. But, being the analytical that I am, after writing 79 game recaps I couldn't let a game go "uncovered" here on my blog. It would be the equivalent of leaving a button unbuttoned in the middle of your shirt, or painting a house and leaving a small section untouched. You get the idea.
  • So, what I decided to do was to watch the recorded version of the game on my trusty DVR and break down some things by watching in slow motion some of the goals and what led to them, and offer some opinions on what I saw.
  • As good as technology is, it's unbelievable how the breaks have gone for the Blues on replays and challenges this season. It seems that the camera is never at the right angle or something is in the way, blah blah blah. This time it was Jaden Schwartz who looked to have scored a goal early in the first period. They buzzed the horn about 2 minutes later so Toronto evidently saw something. But when it came down to the refs looking at it, there wasn't enough clear evidence to overturn the 'no-goal' call.
  • Oh well! It may have ignited a bit of a fire because just a couple of minutes later Robert Bortuzzo added to his career-high scoring year by netting his 4th goal of the season. His shot was aided by the screen from Alexander Steen in front who has been consistently working that dirty area lately. It's something we've all said had been missing most of the season, but it seems to me like he decided he was going to fill that void about the same time his good friend, Paul Stastny was traded at the trade deadline. The goal was created by some good forechecking.
  • On Chicago's first goal that tied the game 4 1/2 minutes later, I discovered by watching and rewinding and playing back in slow motion that the Blues had the puck not once, but twice in their defensive zone and turned it over, allowing Chicago the opportunity that they shouldn't have had. To turn it over and then get it back only to turn it over again was just poor play on the part of the Blues.
  • The Blues had a power play, I don't remember now if it was the one late in the first or the one in the 2nd period, but I made some notes on it. They made 6 passes, finally took a shot and missed the net. Then they got it back and made 8 passes and got a shot on goal. Towards the end, Colton Parayko got off a shot and there was a rebound out front. Ivan Barbashev and Vladi Sobotka were both there but neither could get a stick on it.
  • I was sitting there thinking, based on how poor the power play has been this season and all the times I've watched us pass it around and then not get a shot on goal, that it was another poor power play executed by the Blues. But the NBC announcers said "perfect example of how a power play should work. Why are they 30th in the league?" I guess they see things differently than I do. 
  • Personally, I think our power play looked the best all season when Vladi was hurt and missed a couple of games. Just saying.
  • After the Blues went up 3-1 on goals by Schenn and Tarasenko early in the 2nd period, Chicago got a short-handed goal by Blake Hillman. It was his first NHL goal. I'm like, "How did that happen?!"
  • Watching the replay, the Hawks entered the offensive zone with 2 on 2 and a trailer. The guy with the puck spun and waited for the trailer, Hillman. Vladi Sobotka was in front of Hillman and gave him some space, enough space that he wound up and slapped it past Jake Allen to cut the lead to 2-1. I don't' know why Sobotka gave him so much space. Maybe he didn't expect him to shoot it. I thought it was a poor decision.
  • The tying goal was unassisted, but it was caused by another bad decision by the Blues, this time in their offensive zone when Tage Thompson turned the puck over out near the blue line. Rookie Alex DeBrincat skated up ice with the puck and maneuvered into some open space and fired a slap shot from the top of the circle that went under Jake's arm on the stick side. Jake was visibly upset that he allowed it to go in. Poor puck possession on our part. It just seemed to be a theme of the evening for us.
  • The game-winner came on a power-play goal with just 8.5 seconds left in the game. A penalty was called on defenseman Chris Butler for holding when Chicago got the puck on a breakaway and was behind the defense. I don't know how the defenseman's shifts had played out leading up to it, but I wondered why our veteran defensemen weren't on the ice with just 2 minutes remaining. When it seemed like we were about to at least make it to overtime and secure at least 1 point, veteran Blackhawk defenseman Duncan Keith got a cross-ice pass and one-timed it into the net. You could feel the air leave the building. 
  • Looking back at the play in slo-mo, the cross-ice pass was open because our guy on the weak side was sucked down towards the goal by another Blackhawk down near the goal line. That opened up the lane and gave Keith the space he needed to get the shot off. 
  • If I'm not mistaken, three of their goals were scored at or near the top of the circles. To me, that's just too many goals from that far out. Blame some of them on Jake if you want. Rightly so. But this was just an overall poor performance by the entire Blues team to allow this team, without Jonathan Toews to come back from a 3-1 deficit and beat you in regulation in your own building with this much on the line. 
  • OK. I've stated my opinion. Now, let's put it behind us and move forward. Unbelievably enough, we still control our own destiny and can make the playoffs. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Blues Drop 3rd Straight Yet Playoff Hopes Still Alive

Washington Capitals vs St. Louis Blues - Game 79 Recap
Goals: Tarasenko (32) and Berglund (14)
Record 43-30-6
My Thoughts on the Game

  • We started off great! Jake Allen made a great save on Alex Ovechkin and then Tarasenko scored 3 minutes and 38 seconds after they dropped the puck. What happened? 
  • I tweeted "Our Russian scored before your Russian!" but boy, did things change quickly in the 2nd period!
  • We kept Ovechkin off the scoresheet until he got an empty-netter at the end of the game, but we just stood by and watched as Nicklas Backstrom scored 51 seconds into the 2nd period. Then about 2 minutes later we watched Alex Chiasson score on a long stretch pass that went past 4 Blues players as he skated in all alone on Jake.
  • Their 3rd goal was sick, nasty, and dirty! Andre Burakovsky skated into the offensive zone and took the puck behind his back and then between his own legs as he totally faked out Vince Dunn. He skated around him like he was one of the statues out in front of Scottrade. All Vince could do was poke at him as he went around and put the puck in the net over Jake's shoulder.
  • The line of Alexander Steen, Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund worked hard and after two tip shots by Berglund didn't find the net, the Big Swede got the puck back and shot it in off a Washington defenders leg. The puck snuck inside the post on the short side to draw the Blues back to a one-goal deficit at 3-2. But, we couldn't get anything else in the net and tie it up.
  • We needed points desperately but have only managed 1 in the last 3 games. 
  • As I said a little bit earlier, I think we have had a tendency to do a little too much watching and standing around when the other team has the puck in our end. We get caught not finding men and putting a body on them and that's when we get burned. 
  • I rewind the DVR and watch a lot of the goals in slow motion and there are lots of times when our guys are just standing and watching and their reaction is too late when they find someone.
  • When we are on our game, I think our defense and our forecheck is menacing and hard to play against. But, there have been too many times this season where we've had lapses and those lapses have not only led to goals but losses and stretches of hockey where we find ourselves asking "What happened to our team? Where did the team that was tearing it up at certain times this season go?"
  • One guy I'd like to point out that I saw working really hard was Dimitri Jaskin. He may not have been perfect, I don't pretend to know. But I did see him hustling and giving it everything he had several times in this game.
  • Good news is this - IF we could win 2 of our last 3 and one of those 2 wins would be over Colorado in the last regular season game in regulation, there's no way Colorado can beat us out of that last spot.
  • The Blackhawks are talking smack and saying how nice it would be to see the Blues miss the playoffs and how they want to help make that happen. They shouldn't need it with their playoff lives at stake, but if the Blues didn't have any material for the locker room bulletin board, they do now. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Coyotes Post 6 Goals, Shutout Blues

St. Louis Blues vs Arizona Coyotes - Game 78 Recap
Goals: none
Record 43-29-6
My Thoughts on this game

  • What is there to say? Arizona scored 6 goals. The Blues scored 0.
  • Other than hitting the post a couple of times early in the first period, goalie Antii Raanta stopped everything the Blues could put on the net.
  • Six different Coyotes scored goals. Eleven players recorded points. Quite the balanced attack if you ask me.
  • Jake Allen pulled after allowing a second goal on just 14 shots, 3 minutes and 51 seconds into the 2nd period. Post-game press conference remarks by Mike Yeo indicated that it was not because of Jake's play but because of the upcoming week of games. 
  • I would guess it had something to do with Carter Hutton being back and not having played in quite some time and needing to get him some game time before he might be needed in a "do-or-die" situation either in this upcoming week or, if and when the Blues make the playoffs. 
  • Jake didn't seem happy when Yeo spoke with him in the tunnel after pulling him. I kind of see it both ways but I think that if Jake was going to be on that short of a leash, he should have just started Hutton.
  • Carter faced 19 shots on goal and allowed 4 goals. It was no surprise, given his lack of playing time the last few weeks.
  • Thank you, Jake Allen for getting us back into a playoff spot!
  • The good news is that the Blues are still in a playoff spot, albeit by the skin of their teeth. As I write this, nearly 20 hours after the game ended, the team above the Blues (Anaheim) is preparing to face the team beneath the Blues (Colorado). It is in the best interest of the Blues if Anaheim wins in regulation. 
  • A Ducks win would catapult them in front of the LA Kings, who are idle tonight, and would keep the Avs one point behind the Blues with the Blues having a game in hand on both Colorado and LA. 
  • It would be nice to end up in the 1st wildcard spot as it would place the Blues in the Pacific Division playoffs, but any spot in the playoffs is all that really matters at this point.
  • This week's schedule includes home games with Washington on Monday and Chicago on Wednesday, then back-to-back road games in Chicago and Colorado to close out the season.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Golden Knights Prevail Over Blues in Overtime 4-3

St. Louis Blues vs Vegas Golden Knights - Game 77 Recap
Goals: Berglund (13), Schenn (26) and Thorburn (1)
Record 43-28-6
My thoughts on the game

  • Sounded and looked like there were lots of Blues fans there. It almost sounded like a home game for the boys.
  • Patrik Berglund scored early in this one. It was his 4th goal in the last 6 games. He looks to be skating with a new pep in his step and with a lot more confidence lately. He's finding some chemistry with Alexander Steen and Kyle Brodziak.
  • Vegas gave the Blues a chance to add to the lead by taking a tripping penalty moments after the Berglund goal, and then a delay of game penalty right after that. But, instead of adding to the lead they gave up a short-handed goal which tied it up at 1-1.
  • It wasn't just a breakaway, it was like Williamson Karlsson was in the rink all by himself, one-on-one with Jake Allen. The closest player to him when he got to the net was Schenn who was barely across the blue line. It was Karlsson's 41st goal of the year in 78 games. He had scored 18 goals in his previous 183 games. These Knights all seem to be playing like they have something to prove, all of them like the kid who finally gets in the game and gets his chance to show what he can do.
  • There was some lady wearing a bright pink shirt or jacket behind the goal on one end, and I kept thinking it was the goal lamp. I couldn't tell when a shot went in or not sometimes and I kept seeing that pink shirt! Who wears pink to a hockey game unless it's a "Pink for Cancer Awareness" night or something?
  • Vegas' scored 2 more goals in the game. They both were on very sharp, crisp "tic-tac-toe" passing plays around the net. Both were scored on the unlikeliest of angles. On the first one, Jonathan Marchessault's skates were both below the goal line when he scored. To me, it looked like Robert Bortuzzo was a little slow in finding him.
  • On the other goal, James Neal wasn't quite as deep as the first one, but he was at a very sharp angle as well and beat Jake top shelf before he could adjust to the crisp passing. Neal was all alone on the weak side and caught the Blues off-guard.
  • After Vegas had taken a 2-1 lead, Brayden Schenn found the net. He found the smallest of spaces just over the glove of the goaltender, Malcolm Subban and inside the post. Jaden Schwartz and Vladi Tarasenko assisted on the goal.
  • The Blues turned up the offensive pressure at the end of the first period and ended up outshooting Vegas 9-5.
  • The last Blue who hadn't yet scored a goal this year, finally got one when we needed it most. Chris Thorburn got a goal through the five-hole on Subban after his linemates battled hard and won the puck behind the Vegas net. Scottie Upshall and Oskar Sundqvist both got assists on the goal. It's good to see him get a goal. He works hard every night.
  • Overtime didn't last long. Vegas got a screen on Jake Allen and Marchessault's wrister from the high slot went in just 22 seconds into the extra time. I love Brayden Schenn, but in watching the replay, I felt like he let his man stand in front of Jake without challenging him for the space. I'm sure guys get tired and lose concentration at times. It's understandable. I'm just saying I thought that led to the goal. 
  • I thought the play looked very close to being offsides and I thought the linesman was a bit out of position to clearly see it, but the commentators said it looked onside to them. No crying over spilled milk. Here's a screenshot of the play where he crosses the blue line.
  • The Blues still got a point and are still in a playoff spot. They stop in Arizona tonight to face the Coyotes before coming home for their final two home games of the season.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Blues Win Sixth Straight With 3-2 Overtime Win

San Jose Sharks vs St. Louis Blues - Game 76 Recap
Goals: Sundqvist (1), Tarasenko (30,31)
Record 43-28-5
My Thoughts on the game

  • I was at this game and I usually watch it back on the DVR to write my recap. I just haven't had time to do that on this one. I live 1 1/2 hours from Scottrade, so by the time I get home it's usually 11:30 and then up for work the next day.  It's just hard to get a recap posted in a timely fashion when I go to the game.
  • With that being said, I had a lot of fun at this game. The crowd at Scottrade has been a little rowdier lately, but last night I felt like it was electric.
  • Whether you like people yelling "Woooo" or not, at least they're doing something besides sitting there like they're at a tennis match.
  • It was good to see Sundqvist get his first goal as a Blue. He's been a healthy scratch more often than not this season, but they say he has a great attitude and works hard all of the time. I'm happy for him to get the goal. 
  • This Blues squad is working hard and it's truly fun to watch. San Jose had won 8 straight coming into this one, but that ended, didn't it?
  • We are in the 1st wild card spot right now with a game in hand on one of the teams under us. We have to keep winning, though.
  • Tarasenko seems to have benefited from sitting out a couple of games last week. He scored twice. If we are going to pull this off, we need him putting pucks in the net. For sure!
  • Jake Allen continued to be the backstop we need. I thought the Evander Kane goal was definitely stoppable. Jake thought he had it in his glove and it trickled out the top so it must have been knuckling or he just misjudged it. Either way, it wasn't enough to beat us and that's all that matters.
  • I'll have a more complete set of recaps for the Vegas and Arizona games this weekend. 
  • Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and share with your Blues friends.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Five in a Row! Blues Over Columbus 2-1

St. Louis Blues vs Columbus Blue Jackets - Game 75 Recap
Goals: Steen (15) and Tarasenko (29)
Record 42-28-5
My thoughts on the game

  • Someone suggested that they liked my recaps when they were more opinion based (like a columnist), instead of game recaps (written like a reporter).  I honestly didn't realize I had changed so much until I went back and read some of the earlier ones. As I tried to be more thorough, things did change. If you have a preference and would like to offer feedback, please comment on here or on the social media posts. I'd love to hear from you.
  • This game was a clash of two teams that showed a lot of animosity for one another back in October when the Blues won by a score of 4-1. Coming into this one, Columbus had won 10 straight games. The Blues had won 4 straight and were battling for their playoff lives.
  • Alexander Steen scored early. With linemates Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund this group is working hard and contributing. It's really good to see.
  • Columbus had a goal waived off shortly after due to the fact that it was a soccer goal. The guy kicked it in.
  • I understand the fans who were disappointed with Jake Allen, who for the second year in a row went through a funk earlier this season. But, boy! Is he playing well now!? The save he made in the first period with guys in front of him and a wide open net where he reached across and snagged the puck out of the air. WOW! Or should I say "WOOOOO!"? (Ala Ric Flair) I mean, I think I saw a couple of Blue Jackets raise their arms to celebrate, they were so certain that it was a goal.
  • Truth is, this is the way Jake was playing early in the season when we were being talked about as one of the best teams in the NHL. Then Carter Hutton stepped in and played lights out when we needed him most. Thank God for him, too. And now thank goodness Jake is playing the way he is. He made a LOT of nice saves on a VERY good team tonight.
  • Nationwide Arena looked dark on TV! Seriously, compared to Scottrade it was like night and day.
  • Why do idiots bang on the glass when the play gets close to them? What are they trying to accomplish? Do they think it bothers the players? Do they think it helps their team? Have they just had too much to drink or are they just stupid? I saw lots of people doing this in Nashville too, so I hope it's not something that catches on in St. Louis.
  • Has anyone noticed how much more physical Tage Thompson has gotten in the past few weeks? I can't wait to see this guy in a year or two when he's filled out a little more and has that much more game experience. With a little more meat on his bones and the skill he has, he's going to be a beast!
  • I thought Vladimir Tarasenko's goal was very creative. Something you don't see much from him. He slid to his left and created a lane and then used Alex Pietrangelo as a screen. It was nice to see and turned out to be the game-winner. 
  • He also nearly gave up a goal when he turned the puck over in the offensive zone out near the blue line. He hustled to get back but couldn't catch the guy. Lucky for us that Jake Allen made the stop and did so quite smoothly. It didn't look like the guy really ever even got close to finding an opening. Thanks for having Vladi's back, Jake.
  • Columbus managed to score one goal. Cam Atkinson sniped one past Jake. The shot was unexpected and a good one. 
  • The commentators said Jake "stood on his head" in the third period to stop everything Columbus threw at us. I never saw him do that, but the camera angles don't always allow you to see everything. I'll bet it's hard to do, though, with all that equipment on.
  • The Blues are now 10-2-2 in the 2nd night of back-to-back games this season. It's a good thing they have such a good record in such games because they have two more of them yet this season. Including the last game of the regular season in Colorado which could very well be for all the marbles. Well, not ALL the marbles but at least a playoff spot and a chance to eventually play for "All the Marbles".
  • Hope you enjoyed me getting back to my roots. Thanks to Barry Anglin for pointing me back to them. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please like and share on social media. Comments always welcome. Let's go Blues!
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Patrik, Berglund, Bergie! Hat-Trick Leads Blues to 4-1 Win in Chicago

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks - Game 81 Recap Goals: Berglund (15,16,17) and Schwartz (23) Record 44-31-6 My thoughts on this g...