Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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

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