Mats is out and Jannik draws in.
I imagine the great Dane is probably undergoing alternating feelings of mad passion and mad nausea. His first NHL playoff game and all he is expected to do is replace a legend like Mats. The guy who scored the winning goal in the last game.
No problema senors/senoras.
The truth is, what we’ll lose in experience, size and hands will be made up in speed and forechecking. The Blues are trying to set up smoke screens around Paul Karyia as well as continually crying poor me after Friday’s game. My question is, was Andy Murray trying to do the old Gretzky Olympic move and shift the focus to his behaviour rather than his team‘s performance…or is he just a whiny, dangerously unbalanced psychopath who needs to be locked up for the good of the league?
I kid, I kid.
And we look like we start out with a decent road game until Big Willie and Alex Edler get mixed up behind the net. Backes beats big Lou. The reaction to the early goal by both teams will be interesting. I don’t like what I see. Our D plays catch as our forwards spread out up the ice. We need to tighten up. Let our D make shorter passes. And we need to skate.
The first call goes against us as Ohly damages Tkachuk’s kidneys. Ruh-roh. But a good job on the PK and hard working shift by the Sedins/Burrows. We don’t have the legs yet, but they seem to be coming. Wellwood fights off the hooking and also wins the battles along the boards. Who knew this chubby kid had the heart of a pitbull?
And then another call goes against us. And Mason Raymond seems to be shying away from the physical stuff…not a good sign. And then he makes a fine shot block…okay, a good sign. Big Willie gets involved in a net battle and then we find out that Willie’s high stick costs us. Five on three. Gulp. But the best scoring chance comes by us as Mason Raymond shows his speed (and inexperience…man he had some time there) and we kill off the second five on three of the series. Not scoring on a five on three can come back to haunt you. Let’s hope we can get past all these penalties as the Blues rep on the PP is prodigious.
But once again, the refs call one against us. Ahh, wait…it looks like Crombeen takes a Dumb One and evens it up for us. I see some toughness developing and I see our legs start to move. The period ends without further damage. Lots of jabs by the Missouri kids, but no knockout punch.
The second period sees the refs continue to turn a blind eye to our esteemed opponents antics, as Tkachuk tries to elbow Kesler’s head through the glass. Juice answers by rocking Steen at the blueline. And that’s what I‘m talking about. We just have to answer…properly. With truculence.
And we keep grinding the Blues down, causing a brief flury in front of Mason… and yes, leading to our first PP. We hem them in until Ohly throws a change up at the net. Swing and a miss for Mason. Tied up.
Andy Murray calls an immediate T.O. Not surprised as this seems to be two different teams this period. Once again we are up on special teams. Hope Andy needs to call another time out near the end of the game. Har!
We keep coming as Henrik is robbed by Mason. And then Crombeen the Dumber slashes and puts his team back in the box. And finally its our turn to get a five on three as McClement tries to high stick himself with Kesler’s stick. And we score just as Mason is reaching for the puck…it’s Daniel that pokes it through! That’s how you do the two man ad, boys! (although the zebras miss a high stick on Bernier). I say it again, the 5 on 3 is generally a game changer. But you have to score on it.
And another good sign is SOB leveling Boyes and then not responding to Winchester‘s lame attempt at retaliation. Yep, keep the heads cool as the war heats up.
But Andy MacDonald, on a play that we all watched developing like it was in slo-mo, busts one past Lou. It’s against the run of the play, but that doesn’t matter because we are tied up. And that charges up the Blues batteries. They press us as the clock winds down…
But it’s Bernier who finishes up with the big hit. Really growing to love this kid. We have to wait on the call. And wait.
As it turns out, good old Dumbo Crombeen strikes again. Although the curious part is that he charged the scrum and then got pushed back and down to the ice by well known goon Mason Raymond. So the Blues will be on the PK for the first two minutes of the third. I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of the opening two minute PP in any given period. The ice is too fresh, the legs are too cold…the brandy too stale. It’s always easier to play defense rather than offence until the legs warm…ooops. Just as I write this, the Sedins work their clutch magic again and this time Steve Bernier buries the rebound. They announce this as Steve’s first goal this year but I still think he tipped that first one in in Game One. No matter. St Louis is astounded to learn that it is once again trailing in Guaranteed Win Night.
The goal doesn’t seem to either particularly energize us or break St Lou in half. The fact is, it just turns into an ordinary hockey game. But one in which we are in full control. Our forecheck is strong and we still are not resorting to the trap (or left wing lock or 1-2-2, whatever). We are attacking at least as much as they are.
Until around the 12 minute mark and Juice makes a poor decision. He gets a little fancy with the puck and this leads to the Afghani Fire Drill. One of those shifts that Jim Hughson often says ends in either a goal or a penalty. This time it’s a penalty. I’m thinking well, we kill this one and St Lou is really going to squeeze the sticks. Unfortunately Willie mistakes Keith Tkachuk’s face for the puck. An understandable error, but we are two men short…for the second time this game and the third time this playoffs. Once again, in the words of the immortal Scoobey Doo…Ruh-roh.
Killing off one 5 on 3 is tricky. Two is just plain crazy. Crazier than Andy Murray facing a crucial…ah, never mind. But it is worth noting that Kesler and Mitchell are in the box. Yikes.
The weird thing is, the Blues don’t even threaten. There are so many blocked shots by Ryan Johnson, Matty Ohlund and Alex Burrows, Bob Luongo just has to look…well adequate.
The game winds down slowly from here, but if I’m St Lou, how do you recover from this? Another failed 5 on 3.
It is clear; we are simply the better team. Call it a gutsy effort. Say that we outplayed them. Out-coached them. Out whatevered.
We put the collective foot on their neck and held it there. A three zip stranglehold on the series in a game that we had all the excuses in the world to lose.
You whiners that bitch about the Sedins not being clutch? Check the stats. The twins not playing physical? Did you see how Henrik offered up his chin to Backes the Stupid (a relative of Crombeen the Dumber)? Don’t hurt yourself jumping on the bandwagon. Those of us who have been riding it a few years will make some room.
So yeah, call it a gutsy effort.