Ah, the playoffs. We are rightly excited by our opportunity. But I’ve been hammering at this one point in the last few blogs. We haven’t won anything more than an opportunity. But what an opportunity!
And, as has been stated here and every other honest blogspace: there are lots of good teams and tonight we’ll see two of the best. St Lou? Yep, you’ve heard by now they have been playing lights out with great special teams and hot goaltending. But our guys have been playing with a pack mentality down the stretch. These guys care about each other. And if you don’t think that means much, ask the fans of the teams that aren’t in the playoffs. How many nights did it look like their team did not care?
But if anyone expected the Blues to lay down, then the first five minutes dispelled that notion. It is just back and forth old time hockey. And we hammered them. All scrums and snow showers. The refs warn the benches.
We are on the PK too quickly against this St Lou special team machine. Some anxious moments but nothing develops. The ensuing face off sees us swarm with Bernier on with the Sedins. The old reliable Sedin slap pass (from Demitra!) works on the delayed penalty. Maybe Mason hasn’t seen that old saw. But old saws still cut deep. We are up one nothing on our special team play.
St Lou still not laying down and we go back to the box on an ill-advised Matty Ohlund penalty. And then down two men with a call from 60 feet away. Trouble. With a capital T.
But we have Kesler Burrows Mitchel and Luongo…all with capital letters as well and the pure character test is passed with flying colours and Tkachuk goes off as Burrows gets under his skin. Nothing kills momentum like a lengthy (failed) two man ad.
New look PP with Demitra on with the Sedins but we don’t close the deal. St. Lou follows up with another penalty. The level of intensity is bleeding all over the joint and causing bad decisions. No goal on the PP but a great chance for Daniel. And after the PP Mason Raymond’s speed causes problems for the St. Lou D. Period ends with lots of talk…and we all know how cheap that is.
If the strategy for either team is to stay out of the box then both teams just ain’t getting’ it. Their PP fails so we get a chance. Ours doesn’t look so hot either. The only way to beat an aggressive PK is crisp, short passes and shoot, shoot, shoot. Great kick pass by Sedin and Sami serves up the Salo special. Other goalies have tasted it. Just a one time blast and Mason misses the biscuit…although Hughson figures Bernier tipped it.
We keep attacking and St Lou shows signs of cracking…but we keep rushing the play. No cigar. And then it’s back to the power play for St Lou. Am I the only one sensing the refs are micro-managing? What are they afraid of…that a hockey game might break out? But the emotion in this game is still strong. And as the hitting continues, the refs get upset again.
Great play by the Henrik causes another Blues’ penalty as our PK crushes another St Lou foray. And then the refs get involved again. Good penalty or not…there is too much ref involvement so now the zebras have over-committed and it‘s causing game management problems.
Ah hell. As Hughson reported…”St Louis finally gets one on the power play.”
We have to find a way to make the Blues pay without going to the box.
Still, we just need to win the third period. Four on four and then a lengthy five on five has us turning up the hitting game and you can see St Louis players hearing the blades baring down on them. And the face off wins are starting to come as well. We need to just keep steadily increasing the pressure. We hit the halfway point still up by one. Somehow the Craig Simpson thinks that is a problem. Well, maybe. But I’d rather be up by one than down by one. Hasn’t he watched our team this year? A one goal lead is like guaranteed win night.
The whistle comes out again as Burrows moves his legs and Perron doesn’t. We keep pressing but aren’t rewarded. But the point is: keep the pressure on. And the Wellwood line once again leads the way with Bernier crunching the Blues defence like bugs and Raymond buzzing the net constantly. The shift ends with a mix up with Perron and Wellwood…Perron is slow to get up. Once again, Wellwood goons it up. The league will have to do something about this guy (sarcasm alert).
Great shift by Sedins/Burrows keeps the foot on the St Lou neck. Showing patient but continual pressure the clock ticks too slow for us…too fast for them. We’ve got two and half minutes left and everyone of our guys back checks ferociously, clogging it up, playing smart hockey.
The Blues pull Mason with a minute left and you almost get the feeling that Craig Simpson is cheering them on so that his warning about a one goal disaster will come through. He further shows his ignorance by giving Luongo all the praise. Did he not see the shot total in the third? The face offs? The hits? We needed to win the third. We dominated them. Sure, Big Lou was good early.
The team was good throughout.