Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Despite Slow Start, Blues Beat Montreal 3-1

Montreal Canadiens vs St. Louis Blues - Game 52 Recap
Goals: Barbashev (2), Berglund (7) and Steen (11)
Record 31-18-3

My Thoughts on tonight's game

  • The Blues started this game as if they had, instead of having just had four days off looked as if they hadn't had a day off in 4 weeks. Montreal came out aggressive and definitely the fresher looking team. They kept the puck in their offensive zone and held St. Louis without a shot on goal for the first 17+ minutes of the game. 
  • Carter Hutton, making his 6th straight start in net, was sharp and despite all of the early Montreal pressure the Blues survived the first period. The score was 0-0.
  • The Blues regrouped and began the 2nd period with more energy. 3 1/2 minutes in, Tarasenko beat Montreal goalie Carey Price but was stopped by the goal post. However, it was a sign that Price, although considered by some as the best net minder in the league, is not invincible. 
  • About a minute later, Ivan Barbashev wound up with the puck on his stick in or near the neutral zone. He skated into the offensive zone and took a shot from the top of the right circle. A Montreal defender helped to screen Price and Barbashev's shot went untouched into the net. The goal was unassisted, but Stastny helped free Barbashev near the blue line.
  • The Blues got a couple of power play chances in the 2nd period but failed to convert. The second power play came as a direct result of Jaden Schwartz and his "never say die, never quit, never give up" attitude. He skated into the offensive zone and got behind the defense and was tripped, drawing the penalty. But he didn't stop after being knocked down. From his knees, he dropped the puck back to his linemate, Brayden Schenn who got a good shot on goal before the whistle could be blown and the penalty enforced. I love to watch Jaden Schwartz play! He makes everyone better. 
  • In the final minute and a half of the second period, with the Blues up 1-0, Jay Bouwmeester made an outstanding defensive play and blocked a shot that was headed straight for an empty net as Carter Hutton was caught on the other side of the crease. That play, as part of his full game effort, earned him the 3rd star of the game and rightly so.
  • Early in the third period the Canadiens were whistled for too many men on the ice. The Blues looked as if they may not capitalize on their third power play of the game, but with about 10 seconds left in the man advantage Tage Thompson finally got his stick on a puck and found enough room to get a shot on goal.  The rebound bounced out front as Patrik Berglund skated hard toward the net. The puck fell right on his tape and he poked it home. 
  • The power play goal was the 5th in 12 chances for the Blues in the last 4 games. (41.7%) That's quite an improvement, and is coming at the right time as we head into this home stretch of the season. As noted in the last game recap, the changes to the power play seem to be working. 
  • With 2:34 left in the game Mr. Nice Guy, Colton Parayko cross-checked a guy into the end boards and was called for a 5 minute boarding major. You could tell right away that he didn't intend to harm the player. None the less, it happened. We hope the guy is all right.
  • The Canadiens pulled Price and added an extra attacker for a 6 on 4 advantage. The problem for them was they couldn't manage to hold onto the puck. Steen and Brodziak worked it away from the attackers and Steen got an empty net goal.
  • Montreal did get a goal with just 1:07 left in the game and spoiled Carter Hutton's bid for his second shutout in the last 3 games. 
  • Hutton now leads the league with a .945 save percentage and 1.70 goals against average. With goalies who have played at least 10 games, he is the league's best right now. Where would we be without him? 
  • Many of the players' dads are in town and will be traveling with the team to Boston and Buffalo for games this week. This is the third year for such a trip. The Blues are 4-0 in the two previous seasons when the dads are along. Let's keep that record perfect. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blues Survive Avalanche, Win 3-1

Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues - Game 51 Recap
Goals: Stastny (11), Schenn (21) and Steen (10)
Record 30-18-3

My thoughts on the game

  • Colorado rolled into St. Louis as one of, if not the hottest team in the NHL. They were 14-4-1 since Dec 10, and 10-1-0 in their past 11 games including a 10 game winning streak. They were averaging 3.3 goals per game on the season, good for 4th in the league.
  • They sat in 5th place in the Central Division, just 4 points behind the Blues and with 3 games in hand. Even a win for the Blues in overtime would have allowed the Avalanche to inch another point closer in the race for a playoff spot.
  • Leading the way for Colorado has been the line of Mackinnon (60 pts - 2nd in the NHL), Rantanen (47 pts) and Landeskog (36 pts). St. Louis would need to contain them if they were to win this game.
  • The Blues welcomed back Jaden Schwartz after he missed 20 games with a broken bone in his foot or ankle. They were 20-8-2 with him and 9-10-1 without him. They averaged 3.3 goals per game with him and only 2.15 without him. The power play was 17.3% with him and a measly 11.1% without him. Was he missed? That's a stupid question. Would he make a difference after being off for so long? That's another stupid question.
  • The first period was all St. Louis. They outshot Colorado 17-8 in the period as the Avalanche only had 3 shots on goal in the first 14 minutes. 
  • The Blues struck first, and believe it or not, it came on the power play.  The power play groups were a little different tonight. Unit #1 was Schwartz, Schenn, Steen, Tarasenko and Dunn. Unit #2 was Pietrangelo, Parayko, Thompson, Berglund and Stastny. The goal was scored by the 2nd unit when Pietrangelo's shot from out on top fell to the right of the goal where Stastny was hanging out. The goalie was out of the net far enough and Stastny calmly poked it into the net for his 11th goal of the year. 
  • Colorado came out a lot more aggressive in the 2nd period but the St. Louis defense held serve. At the 10:17 mark the Blues got another power play and scored 1 minute and 11 seconds later. It was Schenn this time for his 21st of the season. He beat goalie Jonathan Bernier short side just over his glove. Alexander Steen was in front of the net and helped take away Bernier's eyes for a split second.
  • It was great to see Schwartz back on the ice. He was all over the place, battling for the puck just like he did early in the season, falling down, getting back up and not ever loafing. When he needed to skate hard to catch a guy or get to some open ice, he was putting in the extra effort and got the job done. I'm sure he's still a little out of shape, but he certainly didn't hurt the team.
  • Colorado managed to get a goal with about 3 minutes left in the 2nd. They certainly turned up the heat in this period and outshot the Blues 15-9 in the period.
  • The third period was back and forth for a while with both teams having some scoring chances, but mostly it was Colorado on the offensive and the Blues on their heels. Hutton made some good saves as the Avalanche played with some desperation as the clock ticked down.
  • Colorado tried to pull their goalie with a couple of minutes left but lost control of the puck and he had to scramble back in net as St. Louis attacked with a 2 on 1 breakaway. Sobotka held the puck until the last possible minute and made a perfect pass over the stick of the sliding defenseman to Alexander Steen. Steen put it home to make it 3-1. It was his 4th goal in the last 5 games and his 173rd goal as a Blue. It moved him 1 ahead of the great Red Berenson for 5th on the Blues all-time list. 
  • Coach Mike Yeo countered the high-powered first line of Colorado with his own high-powered line of Schenn, Schwartz and Steen all night. They did a great job of shutting them down. Mackinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog only had 9 shots on the night and were a combined -3 in the +/-. 
  • With the return of Jaden Schwartz, something had to give, someone had to go and so Magnus Paajarvi was placed on waivers. Other teams have 24 hours to claim him and take on his contract. If no other team claims him, he could be assigned to a minor league team. 
  • The All-Star Break is this weekend. Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn will represent the Blues. It is the first appearance for each of these players. Best of luck boys!
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Blues Blank Senators 3-0

Ottawa Senators vs St. Louis Blues - Game 50 Recap
Goals: Sobotka (9), Tarasenko (21) and Schenn (20)
Record 29-18-3
My thoughts on the game

  • After the disappointing performance in the last game at home against Arizona, St. Louis came out and quickly got to their game in this one. 
  • Yeo's lineup included 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, a move that the Blues had success with a couple of weeks ago and it worked again tonight. It allows some more flexibility to get the hotter offensive players on the ice as the game wears on. It keeps everyone involved more as they don't know who they'll be skating with on the next shift or when. Playing seven defensemen keeps them fresher too. I think it's a good move and wouldn't mind seeing it the rest of the year. As you try to evaluate the best 18 players it seems to me that it's hard to leave any of our D-men off the ice.
  • The Blues outshot Ottawa in every period beginning with the first where the shots were 14-8 in favor of the home team. The total was 41-25 for the game.
  • Vladi Sobotka got the first goal. After a pass up ice from Schenn, the 5'10", 184 lb Sobotka skated into the offensive zone. Although he was defended pretty well, he still managed to get a shot off from the high slot. Goaltender, Craig Anderson may have been screened a little by the defenseman and the puck stayed low on the ice. Somehow, it got under the pads of Anderson for Vladi's 9th goal of the season.
  • Sobotka looked like he was playing with a little more confidence in this one. The goal ties his career high for a season in the NHL. 
  • Another highlight from the first period was the youngster, Tage Thompson. In one offensive series he positioned himself atop the circle on the left side and he managed to get off three massive one-time slap shots within a period of about 10 seconds. The puck kept cycling back around to him and he just kept firing.  It was almost like he has decided, "If you guys aren't going to shoot it, I will!"
  • The Blues killed off all 4 of their penalties in this game, including a 4 minute double minor to Bortuzzo in the 2nd period for high sticking.
  • St. Louis' second goal came from the other Vladi 6:10 into the third period. After Parayko's long slap shot from the point, the rebound came out nearly to the top of the circle on the left side. Tarasenko, who must have been lingering out near the blue line or even possibly at center ice, snuck into the open ice and 'one-timed' the rebound into the net. It amazes me how far he is from the net when he scores a lot of his goals. 
  • The big Vladi is known for his wrist shot, which is probably as quick as anyone on the planet, but it was good to see him take this slapper. It looked like it was about a 3/4 shot, but it was on goal and it went in.
  • I saw something we haven't seen much of, which I've commented on in previous posts. I saw guys trying to get in front of the net. Particularly, I saw Kyle Brodziak working his way in there a few times and I saw Alexander Steen doing the same. That's what we've needed. 
  • The other thing we've needed is guys shooting the puck quicker, getting it on net and then scrapping for a rebound. They did more of that tonight. There were a lot more shots getting to the net.
  • On the other end, Carter Hutton continued his great play and notched his 2nd shutout of the season and the 10th of his career. I'm glad he's on our team. I'd hate to think where we'd be without him.
  • Kyle Brodziak played a great game. He had an assist on Tarasenko's goal but he was tenacious tonight. 
  • Brayden Schenn finished off the scoring with an empty net goal with 2:26 remaining in the game. It was his 20th of the season and his 3rd in the last 5 games. He's on pace for a career high in goals and points and we can't say enough about how glad we are that he's wearing the Note! He's on track for 80+ pts. His career high prior to arriving in St. Louis was 59. I think he's in the right seat on the bus.
  • Jaden Schwartz has been cleared to play. We may see him Thursday night against Colorado. We probably will need him as they've been on a hot streak. They had won 10 straight before dropping a game to Montreal earlier this week.
  • February's schedule looks pretty tough to me. More games against Central Division opponents, including games in Winnipeg, Dallas, Minnesota and two in Nashville where every single night valuable points will be up for grabs.  We need to be finding our best game in order to stay in this race and keep pace with everyone else.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Coyotes Snap 12 Game Losing Streak versus the Blues with Decisive 5-2 Win

Arizona Coyotes vs St. Louis Blues - Game 49 Recap
Goals: Schenn (19) and Steen (9)
Record 28-18-3

My Thoughts on the Game
  • The Arizona Coyotes came to town with the worst record in the NHL. The Blues sat 3rd in the Central Division and 4th overall in the Western Conference. The Coyotes were on track for 51 pts on the season while the Blues already have 59. They had lost their last 12 games versus the Blues including a 3-2 loss at Scottrade on November 9th. But tonight would be a different story.
  • If you had walked in to watch this game and were told the above facts but weren't told which team was which, after watching the first few minutes of the first period you would have thought the roles were certainly reversed. Arizona looked like a team contending for a playoff spot.  The Blues looked like a team who were struggling to compete.
  • A quick whistle on a play at the Arizona goal may have kept the Blues from getting on the board first at the 1:31 mark. But just 22 seconds later, there was no doubt where the puck was when Arizona's Zac Rinaldo came from behind the net on the weak side and poked a rebound home behind Carter Hutton. 
  • I'm not a hockey X's and O's guy, so I'm not sure where the breakdown occurred or who's responsibility it was to pick up the guy coming from behind the net, but Arizona always seemed to have guys around the net all night long.
  • The second goal came shortly after at the 4:02 mark. A shot from the point was tipped by Christian Dvorak who had positioned himself nicely in front of the net. His deflection bounced the puck off the ice and left Carter Hutton with no chance to adjust as it got by him on his right side.
  • The third goal was again scored by Dvorak. If you could see the replay of the goal you'd see three Blues behind the net and Dvorak camped out in front all by himself. When the puck gets to him, he has no opposition and easily lifts the puck over Hutton into the top of the net.
  • Arizona was fast, they moved the puck quickly, they were aggressive in the offensive zone, especially in having bodies around the net. It's something that the Blues haven't done very well all season.  If I could ask a question in a press conference, it would be "Why don't we have someone who wants to get in front of the net and help us pick up some of those dirty goals?"
  • It was just a very disappointing effort after two wins in Canada earlier in the week. 
  • Some of the fans have wanted to blame goaltending, but it's a team game and there are 18 other guys who have to look in the mirror after this one and ask themselves what happened? And how do we keep it from happening again?
  • Hutton was pulled after allowing 3 goals in the first 7 minutes. Jake Allen received a very nice ovation as he took the ice. He ended up allowing what I thought was a soft goal on Arizona's 4th of the night, but both goalies made some outstanding saves besides the goals that got past them.
  • The Blues' passes were just off the mark most of the night. We just didn't look sharp. Arizona, on the other hand did look sharp. Their passes were crisp. They skated hard and just put it to us. That's about all you can say. They outplayed us. 
  • Schenn scored his 19th of the year and Steen scored his 9th, but it just wasn't enough. Both goals were power play goals, which is a bright spot and will hopefully lead to better things. 
  • The most glaring statistic in this one was shots on goal.  Arizona outshot the Blues 23-7 in the first period and 44-27 for the game. 
  • An observation - I wish Tage Thompson could find some open space on the ice. I really believe he's a goal scorer but it looks like teams are 'man-handling' him a little bit and he's finding it hard to get enough space to put his skills to work. At times he gets shots off that it doesn't look like he could, but other times he's struggling to gain separation. I believe with more physical maturity and strength he'll be a force to be reckoned with in the next year or two.
  • We gotta get people to the net. I couldn't count how many times a centering pass was stolen or just sailed through because nobody was there to receive it. Or, how many times we got a shot on goal and the rebound found nobody home to do something with it. David Backes is in Boston now. Who's going to get in there and scrap for some goals and win some battles in front of the net? That's something we need to find.
  • Ottawa on Tuesday and Colorado on Thursday. Ottawa will be looking for revenge for the loss to the Blues last week and Colorado has won 9 straight. Parity is the new norm in the NHL. You gotta be ready to play every night. Because, as Arizona just proved the worst team can still beat one of the best teams on any night. Nothing good is free. Let's go Blues!
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Friday, January 19, 2018

Come Back Jaden! Come Back!

I'm anxious for Jaden Schwartz to rejoin the Blues. He hasn't played since he left the game on Dec 9th against Detroit. He suffered a lower-body injury, which is believed to have been a broken ankle when he blocked a shot in the first period.

You may not remember, but Schwartz scored the first goal of that game before going down with the injury. The Blues won that game in Detroit 6-1. 

As training camp began and injuries started piling up, added to the off-season injuries there was a lot of worry and fret on the part of the Blues fans as to how this season would go. To the surprise of most hockey pundits, the Blues came out blazing. They won their first 4 games and went 10-2-1 in the month of October. 

Schwartz, along with linemates Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko were being talked about as one of the best lines in hockey.  They certainly were being productive. Only the line in Tampa led by Stamkos and Kucherov had more points than the St. Louis trio.

One player does not a team make, but it's hard for a car to go anywhere without an engine. Schwartz was that engine. I called him a bulldog. He was a puck-hound and never seemed to take a shift off, always chasing, always battling for the puck and always finding a way to help get the puck in the net. 

To put things into perspective on the difference with and without Schwartz just take a look at these numbers.

With Jaden Schwartz
19-8-2   3.20 goals per game  17.8% power play
Without Jaden Schwartz
9-9-1     2.31 goals per game   7.8% power play

Although he has missed 18+ games he still is among the team leaders in goals and points. He has 14 goals (4 behind Schenn and 6 behind Tarasenko) and 35 points (10 behind Schenn and 11 behind Tarasenko). 

The original timeline was for him to be re-evaluated in 6 weeks which would be around Jan 20th. He has been walking without crutches and without a boot for a couple of weeks now and was skating as early as a week ago. 

His return will be one of the most welcomed returns I can think of and I would love to be in the building at Scottrade the night he steps back on the ice. It will be a moment that I'm sure the St. Louis fans will make one of those "hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck" moments. Whenever it happens, may I be the first to say, "Welcome back, Jaden Schwartz! Welcome back!"


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blues Back on Track, Beat Senators 4-1

St. Louis Blues vs Ottawa Senators - Game 48 Recap
Goals: Tarasenko (20), Pietrangelo (8), Schenn (18) and Steen (8)
Record 28-17-3
My Thoughts on the game

  • These past two games have reminded me a lot of how we were playing in the start of the season. When you put yourself in the opponents skates and think about how hard it would be to get the puck up the ice and find space with these guys swarming all over you and in your face constantly, you would have to be frustrated. That's Blues hockey. I love to watch it.
  • Carter Hutton was in net again tonight. He is second only to Marc Andre Fleury in goals against average and save percentage, virtually in a dead heat for the league's best goalie.
  • The first period was pretty even. Both teams had 7 shots on goal but the period ended scoreless.
  • The 2nd period has been the nemesis of the Senators this season and tonight proved to be no different.  The Blues scored 3 times in a 10 minute span. 
  • The first goal came on a shot from Robert Bortuzzo from the point that was deflected in front of the net by Tarasenko as the puck dropped straight down and between the legs of Ottawa goaltender, Craig Anderson.
  • The second goal started when a puck flipped high into the neutral zone was batted down by Alex Pietrangelo. He got the puck back into the offensive zone where Sobotka sent a pass to Tage Thompson who 'one-timed' it on goal. Anderson saved it and controlled the puck, but chose to flip it out to his left into a space where Pietrangelo had moved in. Anderson was sprawled and trying to regroup but had left much of the net open and Petro's reaction was quicker than the netminder's and his shot found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
  • Schenn scored the third goal, his 18th of the season. It was his first goal since Dec 20th, 11 games ago. Steen assisted on the play as Schenn's backhander caught Anderson a bit off guard.
  • Ottawa's Bobby Ryan notched a goal :28 seconds later to cut the lead to 3-1, but it was too little too late. 
  • The Senators pulled their goalie late but could not capitalize. Steen got an empty net goal to seal the deal.
  • The Blues outshot Ottawa 37-21 on the night. 
  • Ottawa is now 15-19-9 and will most likely miss the playoffs. It shows you how fast things can change as this was a team that took the defending and eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins to double overtime of game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals one year ago. 
  • The Blues head home to Scottrade for a 4 game home stand beginning with Arizona Saturday night.

#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dunn Scores in Overtime to Beat Leafs

St. Louis Blues vs Toronto Maple Leafs - Game 47 Recap
Goals: Steen (7) and Dunn (4)
Record 27-17-3
My Thoughts on this game
  • Overall, I thought this was the best the Blues had looked in quite some time. They played 60+ minutes of hockey where they chased the puck and put pressure on their opponent from one end of the ice to the other.
  • The power play was 0 for 2 and even gave up a short-handed goal but they held their composure and got it done. 
  • The short-handed goal by Connor Brown came at the 10:10 mark of the third when a bouncing puck got past Pietrangelo at the point and created a breakaway for Brown who beat Carter Hutton high on the glove side. It was the 5th shortie the Blues have given up this season. The puck seemed to be on edge a lot tonight and the announcers talked about it quite a bit. It seemed that there was nothing the captain could do as the puck scampered by him.
  • Time was ticking away and it seemed like they might not get it done, but they kept putting pressure on Toronto and with about 1:45 left, they pulled Hutton and got an extra attacker on the ice.  They looked so much better with 6 on 5 than they have on the power play.  Quick puck movement and quick shots on goal forced a couple of face offs in the Toronto end and with :57 seconds remaining, Piertrangelo put a puck on net from the point.  Steen was screening the goalie in front and got the rebound and poked it in to tie the game at 1-1. 
  • Overtime gave the Blues new life. Vince Dunn, who wasn't even sure he would get to play prior to the game, got the nod when Bouwmeester had travel problems getting back after his wife gave birth to their third daughter. Dunn, a Toronto native had a great game in front of his friends and family.
  • He missed a couple of games before the break due to the flu and was a healthy scratch for 3 more games before that. To get back into game shape, the Blues sent him down to the AHL for a couple of games during the break. He looked rested as he had 7 shots on goal on the night and was definitely a bright spot. 
  • Anyway, back to overtime. Dunn got the puck in the Blues end of the ice down in the corner.  It looked to me like he might dump the puck back to a teammate to regroup before going on the offensive.  Instead, he gathered it up and raced the other direction.  He found some clear ice as he crossed the blue line and lined up a wrist shot that beat Frederik Andersen high on the blocker side.
  • Stastny assisted on both goals with Pietrangelo also getting an assist on the Steen goal.
  • Great win! Let's get another one in Ottowa on Thursday.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Florida Throttles Blues 7-4

Florida Panthers vs St. Louis Blues - Game 46 Recap
Goals: Stastny (10), Parayko (5), Tarasenko (19) and Thompson (3)
Record 26-17-3

My thoughts on the game

  • "We were not good enough." - Coach Mike Yeo after the game. That pretty much sums up every facet of this game. The Blues were outshot (36-30 shots on goal, it was 27-16 after 2 periods), outhit, outhustled, and just about any other category you could name, Florida outdid us for the lackluster effort we have been showing all too frequently lately.
  • Other than the first 8 minutes of the game, the Blues just didn't show up. They scored at :48 seconds of the first period on a nice goal by Stastny. Barbashev directed the puck across the ice at Edmundson, who was charging the net. The puck hit Edmundson awkwardly and fell in front of Stastny.  He raked the puck around the goaltender and into the net for his 10th goal of the season.
  • Colton Parayko made it 2-0 at 8:05 on a nice pass from Tarasenko across the ice finding the goaltender a bit out of position. 
  • However, Florida cut the lead in half just 1:09 later when the St. Louis defense left the weak side totally exposed. Aaron Ekblad got the puck on the right side. Jake Allen recovered nicely to close off the exposed net but Ekblad made a good move and went left and shoveled a backhand shot past Jake. 
  • They tied the game at 16:57 when a crossing pass hit the skate of Aleksander Barkov and went into the net. Florida had 15 shots on goal compared to 7 for St. Louis.  Other than the first 8 minutes, the Panthers owned the first period. 
  • Tarasenko got his 19th goal at 4:17 of the second period on a nice tic-tac-toe play from Barbashev and Stastny. Vladi's wrist shot went over the glove of Florida goalie, James Reimer and just under the cross bar to give the Blues a 3-2 lead. 
  • Florida again answered 8 minutes later when Vrbata scored while the Blues stood by and watched him skate in and put the puck over Jake's left shoulder.
  • After a face-off win in the St. Louis zone, Florida scored again when Jake seemed to be caught a little off balance. This was one that looked like he could or should have stopped. 
  • They went up 5-3 when the Blues watched Trocheck skate into open ice and have a point blank shot right at the net. This one chased Allen and some of the Scottrade fans cheered as Hutton was summoned from the bench.
  • Shortly after Hutton entered, Florida got a breakaway on a long stretch pass up the ice, nobody from St. Louis was back and the attacking Panther beat Hutton but hit the crossbar. It was further proof that all of the issues can't be blamed on the goaltenders and some blame must be accepted by the rest of the team.  The Blues were outshot 12-9 in the 2nd period.
  • Florida scored a short-handed goal at 13:02 of the 3rd, making it 6-3.
  • Just when I was about to say "Where has Tage Thompson gone?" he shows up and hits a post and scores a goal a few minutes later when Sobotka hits him high in the slot with a perfect pass. Tage snapped it into the the net for his 3rd of the season.
  • Another stat that made a difference was that Florida won 64% of the face-offs. The Blues couldn't control much of anything in this one.
  • There are some troubling trends taking shape here, but I'm hopeful that they can get back to playing like they did in the first 20 games of the season.  It's still the same team.  They did it before and they can do it again.  I still like our chances.  Schwartz should be back in a couple more weeks.  I think he'll make a big difference if he's healthy.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Blues Lose 4-3 in Overtime to Washington

St. Louis Blues vs Washington Capitals - Game 45 Recap
Goals: Tarasenko (18), Steen (6) and Gunnarsson (4)
Record 26-16-3
My Thoughts on this game
  • The Blues came out with a lot more energy than they did the previous day in Philadelphia and had a lot more sustained offensive pressure in the early going.
  • The first period was played pretty evenly until the Blues took back-to-back holding penalties by Kyle Brodziak and then Carl Gunnarsson about midway through.  
  • Although Washington only ranks middle of the pack on the power play at 19.6%, it's hard to stop their high powered offense for 4 minutes straight when you're playing with one less guy than them.
  • The Blues managed to kill off 3 minutes and 15 seconds, but Brett Connolly somehow got his stick on a shot by Alex Ovechkin that was about 3 feet wide of the net.  His redirection left goaltender, Carter Hutton totally helpless as the puck was past him before he knew what happened.
  • The second period was all Blues as they outshot the Capitals 17-6 in the period and scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Goals by Tarasenko from the slot and Steen on a deflection accounted for the scoring. The Steen goal looked like it was Brayden Schenn's goal, but was later given to Steen on the deflection. Schenn hasn't scored since the Calgary game on December 20th. In fact, he's only scored 3 goals since linemate, Jaden Schwartz went down with his injury. 
  • The Capitals didn't even manage a shot on goal in the period until the 9:31 mark. 
  • In the third, another power play goal for the Capitals by Ovechkin tied the game. His one-time slap shot from close range at 300 MPH was unstoppable. 
  • About 3 minutes later the Caps took the lead when Hutton's kick save fell right on the tape of Washington centerman, Lars Eller who wristed it home for a 3-2 lead.
  • The Blues hung in there, until Carl Gunnarsson gave them life again at the 15:51 mark. His shot from the point with traffic in front of the net hit Ovechkin in the elbow, bounced down and past goalie, Braden Holtby. It was Carl's first goal in 27 games but his 4th of the season, matching his career high in his 8 previous years in the NHL. (5 years with Toronto and now in his 4th with the Blues)
  • The game went to overtime where the Blues had some great chances but Holtby was outstanding in the net and kept his team in it until they could strike back.
  • The winning goal came in the final minute of overtime. The Blues were attacking when it seemed the Parayko was slashed along the right side boards entering the offensive zone. He was separated from his stick and lost the puck. As he skated to the bench, one of the other players on the ice for St. Louis, Tarasenko decided he would go off on a line change. This left the ice wide open and a long stretch pass from TJ Oshie to a streaking Nicklas Backstrom gave him a one-on-one breakaway with Hutton. A goalie can't stop all of those kinds of shots, especially by players like Backstrom. The center ice man is nearly a point per game producer and is a +/- 120 for his career. He is currently in his 11th season in the NHL, all with the Capitals. 
  • The Blues left the short two game road trip with a point, at least. They played a much better game than they had the day before in Philly. 
  • One more game with the Florida Panthers at home before the bye week. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Slow Start Dooms Blues in Philly

St. Louis Blues vs Philadelphia Flyers - Game 44 Recap
Goals: Barbashev (1), Stastny (9) and Parayko (4)
Record 26-16-2
My thoughts on this game

  • The Blues definitely came out flat in this one. The "hunger" and "urgency" just wasn't there in the early going. 
  • Philadelphia scored first when Pietrangelo mishandled the puck in the corner in his own zone and then took a big hit. The puck was picked up by Scott Laughton, who sniped a shot over Jake Allen's right shoulder on the short side. 
  • They went up 2-0 a few minutes later when Claude Giroux led a 2 on 1 break which was one of many on the day. His attempted pass over a sliding Colton Parayko hit big #55 in the rear end and went into the goal. Jake was shifting to defend against a shot from the other side and the fluke play went past him and there was really nothing he could do.
  • The Blues were outshot 16-7 in the first period and didn't even manage a shot on goal until the 8:04 mark of the period. 
  • Philly added 2 more goals in the 2nd period to take a 4-0 lead. The first one was a straight forward power/speed move by Jordan Weal. He skated up the right side of the ice and into the offensive zone.  He just beat the defender to the goal and made a quick power move across the face of the goal and it was so fast that all he had to do was touch the puck to get it past Allen, who was left a little flat-footed by the move.
  • The 4th Flyers goal was another 2 on 1 break with a perfect pinpoint pass that hit Sean Couturier's tape as he tipped it into the net. 
  • There's been a lot of chatter about who is the better goalie on this team. If you just look at goals allowed you might have a case for why Jake Allen isn't the guy.  But, if you really analyze what leads to the goals and look at how the Blues have played recently in front of him, it wouldn't matter if you had both goaltenders in the net at the same time. Nobody can stop every shot when he's outmanned and staring point blank at shooters of the puck with no defense.
  • Ivan Barbashev built on his solid play of late by getting the Blues on the scoreboard at the 14:56 mark of the 2nd period.  It was his first goal of the season and was a nice backhand from a sharp angle over the former Blue, Brian Elliott.
  • The Blues were once again outshot in the 2nd period 13-9.
  • The third period started better when Tarasenko led a rush and passed to Stastny for a goal just :12 seconds after the puck was dropped. As poorly as they had played up to this point, it was now just a 4-2 game and seemed like their might be a chance to pull this one out.
  • Those dreams were squashed as Philadelphia kept things under control for the next 10 minutes of the game and then added another goal on a power play when Wayne Simmonds got his stick on a shot and redirected it past Jake. 5-3 Philadelphia.
  • St. Louis pulled the goalie with over 5 minutes remaining. What else did we have to lose? It paid off as Colton Parayko got his 4th goal of the season with a shot from the blue line.  This time, it wasn't a 100+ mph slap shot but was a nice wrist shot that got through. Elliott never saw it. 
  • Once the Blues gained possession again, they pulled Jake and proceeded to lose the puck. It was almost comical as Philly got the puck into the offensive zone and missed the open net several times.  It took them almost 2 minutes to score into the open net. It was almost easier for them when our goalie was in net. (Just the way it went today for us, that is not an indictment on Jake-see comments above)
  • They did finally get an empty netter which accounted for the final of 6-3.
  • Philly dominated this game. St. Louis didn't show up ready to play. They managed an abundance of shots on goal in the third but were outshot in the first two periods 29-16. We lost 60% of the faceoffs. We took 4 penalties and only had 1 power play opportunity.
  • We seem to take a lot of shots that don't get to the net or don't hit the net.  Brett Hull talked about that recently in an interview and seemed to be sending a message that I wish we could put into play. Shots that aren't on goal usually don't go in.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Blues Win 3rd Straight

Vegas Golden Knights vs St. Louis Blues - Game 43 Recap
Goals: Steen (5) and Stastny (8)
Record 26-15-2

My thoughts on this game
  • Carter Hutton got his 3rd straight start in net as Coach Mike Yeo is riding the hot hand. Hutton leads the entire NHL in goals against average AND save percentage.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights made their first trip ever to St. Louis riding an 8 game winning streak. They've broken records for an expansion franchise in any sport with the current streak. You gotta tip your cap to the ownership and coaching staff for what they've accomplished so far. They have positioned themselves as true contenders. 
  • Alexander Steen broke the ice with his fifth goal of the season midway through the first period with a shot that beat Fleury on the short side just under his glove. Berglund created some traffic in front and it was all Steen needed to get the puck past the high-profile goal tender formerly of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Schenn and Parayko assisted on the goal. 
  • Thompson had a great chance to make it 2-0 when he got to the net, but couldn't get the backhander past Fleury. 
  • Stastny and Sobotka had a 2 on 1 early in the 2nd but were also denied by Fleury. The Steen, Stastny and Berglund line had a couple of chances in the first half of the 2nd period as well. 
  • Vegas, who lead the league in come-from-behind wins this season with 12, didn't go away. Haula scored at the 9:23 mark to tie it up at 1-1. He found some open ice in the high slot and his one-timer beat Hutton. 
  • Vegas had another great chance about 6 minutes later when Hutton got caught out of the crease. Vegas couldn't get a stick on the puck as it laid there waiting to be poked in the net. As the Knights scrambled, so did Hutton. He managed to get in the way just enough that the puck redirected and sputtered across the crease, just past the far post. 
  • This was a well-played, fast-paced game by both sides. End to end action was fun to watch. Lots of scoring chances by both teams kept me on the edge of my seat as I watched this one. Both Hutton and Marc Andre Fleury played excellent games in net and kept this one close. 
  • The Blues played a clean game, only taking one penalty midway thru the 3rd. Vegas was only whistled twice. Neither team converted on the power play. The Blues continued their strong play on the penalty kill, and have killed off 48 of the last 52. 
  • The game-winner came at the 5:59 mark of the third period. Parayko shot the puck from the right circle. The rebound came out in front where Stastny directed it back towards the goal. The puck seemed to disappear into the pads of Fleury, but after a second or two it trickled out and laid at the goal post. The only one who saw it was Stastny and he calmly poked it into the net before anyone else could react. 
  • The third period yielded several scoring chances for both teams, but both goalies were on top of their games and got some good support from their teammates. 
  • This was a good win for St. Louis who have now won 3 in a row and will head out to the east coast for back to back games in Philly and DC over the weekend.

#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Blues Win 3-2 in Shootout Over Devils

New Jersey Devils vs St. Louis Blues - Game 42 Recap
Goals: Tarasenko (17) and Sobotka (8)
Record 25-15-2

My Thoughts on Tonight's Game

  • Tage Thompson continues to create scoring chances. It's exciting to think of his upside and the other Blues' young prospects that we will be watching these next few years. 
  • Carter Hutton got the start again tonight and was sharp in the early going. Some saves in the first period were just a sign of things to come later on.
  • This game was back and forth with St. Louis getting most of the scoring chances in the first period.  They outshot the Devils 14-5 in the opening frame.
  • Tarasenko broke the ice with a goal at the 12:48 mark when Scottie Upshall stole the puck in the offensive zone, his shot from the slot was blocked or tipped and ended up deflecting behind the goal. The rebound bounced off the back boards and straight to Vladi who pulled the puck out in front of the net and spanked it into the twine. It was the only goal in the first period.
  • In the second period Hutton wandered a little far from the net and found himself in the corner and unable to play the puck.  New Jersey was all over it and gained control of the puck. They centered it and took a shot but Carter had scrambled back to the net and made a diving play to save a goal. 
  • Ivan Barbashev has been playing better hockey and stood out to me a little more in this game.
  • Scoring chances for the Blues in the 2nd included a Berglund tip that nearly went in and Kyle Brodziak hitting the post on one shot and the crossbar a little later on. 
  • New Jersey tied the game when a player shot the puck 3 or 4 feet wide of the net, but it was tipped by #1 overall draft pick of 2017 Nico Hischier. There was really nothing Hutton could do. It was an unbelievable tip and redirection.
  • Before the 2nd period would end, Tage Thompson's shot from the top of the circle glanced off the knee of Vladi Sobotka and went in for a 2-1 St. Louis lead.
  • The Devils struck quickly in the 3rd when Steen was whistled for tripping at the 1:08 mark. Exactly 9 seconds later, New Jersey's Taylor Hall grabbed the puck off a rebound down near the goal line and banked a shot off Hutton's back from the sharp angle and tied the game at 2-2.
  • It looked like New Jersey would take the lead when a turnover by Upshall led to a goal by 19 year old Jesper Bratt. The play was challenged by St. Louis for being offside and was reversed, keeping the score tied at 2 goals each.
  • The Blues had a power play chance midway through the 3rd but could not capitalize and were 0 for 4 on the power play for the game.
  • The game went to overtime and that's when Carter Hutton put on a show. The save I'm about to describe ended up as the #1 play of the week on NHL Network.  I'm sure my description won't do it justice, so you gotta see it if you haven't already. Hischier skated in alone on Hutton. His shot beats him but hits the left goal post.  The puck bounces up and over Hutton, landing in front of the crease to Hutton's left. He was deep in the net and up against the far post leaving a totally empty net on his left side. Marcus Johansson was next to arrive on the scene and he swung at the puck for what was sure to be the game winner, but somehow Hutton managed to get back across and save the shot with his left leg.  Replay after replay defied logic as it seemed there was no way he could have saved that puck from crossing the line, but he did.
  • He (Hutton) made several outstanding saves in the overtime.  
  • Stastny had the best chance for the Blues in overtime but Kinkaid kept it out of the net.
  • No goals in overtime led to the shootout where Brayden Schenn and Vladi Tarasenko scored and both Devils' attempts were kept out by Hutton. 
  • Outstanding game by Hutton. Truly "Sportscenter" worthy. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

Blues Reach Midway Point With Win Over Carolina

Carolina Hurricanes vs St. Louis Blues- Game 41 Recap
Goals: Brodziak (7), Berglund (6) and Upshall (6)
Record 24-15-2

My thoughts on the game
  • This game started out with a bang, literally. Vladi Tarasenko put a big hit on somebody along the boards in the Blues offensive zone. He knocked the guy down and it was just the first of several extra-effort plays out of him in the game. 
  • Coach Mike Yeo, looking for something that would shake things up, mixed up the lines and moved Kyle Brodziak up to the 2nd line with Steen and Berglund. Brodziak has earned more time lately and came through early with a goal at :43 seconds into the game. It was a smart play as Brodziak shot the puck wide on purpose.  Steen corralled the puck behind the net and centered it back to Brodziak. In the blink of an eye it was on the tape and then in the net. 
  • For the first time this season, Yeo dressed 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. The move mixed up the lines throughout the game and might have been just what they needed to break out of the rut they've found themselves in lately. 
  • Jay Bouwmeester was back after missing 9 games with a lower body injury.
  • This was the Blues 5th back-to-back game in the month of December. They have fared well in the second games this season with a 5-2-1 record prior to this one. 
  • One big reason for that is the quality goaltending of Carter Hutton. If memory serves me correctly, he has tended the net in all but one of those back-to-backers. He leads the entire NHL in save percentage at even-strength with a .947 save percentage. 
  • Vladi made another extra effort play later in the period by diving to keep a puck in the offensive zone. You don't expect those kind of plays from your star goal scorer, but they are the kinds of things that caused the Blues to say multiple times early in the season, "we just play for each other." 
  • Berglund "one-upped" his teammate Brodziak's quick strike goal early in the second period with a goal of his own when he led a 2 on 1 rush with Pietrangelo and scored just :42 seconds in. It was a perfect back and forth that caught the goalie out of position and gave #21 an opening he couldn't miss. 
  • The Blues led 2-0 and had a great chance to extend the lead shortly after with a power play. A little over half way through the 2 minute advantage Parayko's slap shot hit the stick of the Carolina goalie and knocked it out of his hands and into the corner. He couldn't recover the stick, but the Blues couldn't get back into the zone and put any pressure on him. 
  • When the stick was recovered Vince Dunn took a shot from the point as the last seconds of the Carolina penalty ticked away, but the shot missed wide.  The puck went around the boards and all the way out of the zone. It landed on the stick of Carolina's Derek Ryan leaving the penalty box and he beat Pietrangelo and Hutton to make it a one-goal game. 
  • The Blues had another power play chance but again failed to score. They looked better and had some good chances but just couldn't score. 
  • Carolina tied the game when Wallmark (I kept thinking they were saying Wal-Mart! LOL) found the puck between Stastny's legs in front of the net on a rebound and poked it in the net. I'm sure many of us thought, "here we go again!" 
  • Pietrangelo, who hasn't scored in a while, was robbed when his shot late in the 2nd hit the goalie's stick handle or maybe even the knob of the stick. Bouwmeester had a good scoring chance early in the third and Tarasenko was robbed by Darling, but it was Scottie Upshall who would record the game winner. 
  • Upshall was another benefactor of the line changes as he found himself on a line with Schenn and Tarasenko most of the night. They both assisted on his goal that found him streaking down the left side. His shot went between the legs of the 6'7" Darling for his 6th goal of the season at the 8:58 mark of the third period. 
  • Hutton made some great saves in the closing minutes to earn his 6th win of the year and move to 6-3-0 on the season. His GAA is now 1.68 and save percentage is .946. 
  • I thought the line changes were good. It seemed to me like the player you see charging to the front of the net the most is Upshall, and to put him with two guys who get a lot of shots was smart. Brodziak's play has been as good as anyone's lately and it was good to see him rewarded. Putting them on the top two lines generated goals. 
  • The Blues have played half their games already,  but the official league halfway point is next Saturday. 

#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...