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

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...