Let me get this straight; the Blues went into Boston to play the Bruins without Roman Polak, Carlo Colaiacovo, Barret Jackman and David Perron. Brad Winchester was out too, but you know. Playing in place of those guys were seventh defenseman Tyson Strachan, first NHL gamer Nikita Nikitin and fellow first-gamer Ian Cole, AHLer Nathan Oystrick and Cam Janssen in his first game since opening night.
Don't tell me, I know how this one went: Jaroslav Halak shut down the Bruins offense, got lucky with a couple hit posts, the Blues got a big goal from former Bruin Vladimir Sobotka in his first visit back to the team that traded him and then they got two beautiful shootout goals from T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes.
Am I right?
Hell, predicting this team is getting downright easy.
Fine, fine. Let's get serious, shall we? And then let's all go do some GT Birthday shots.
- Sobotka really showed Blues fans what he's capable of with the increase in icetime he got tonight. The goal nonwithstanding, he was winning faceoffs tonight (16 of 18), hitting every one of his fomer mates like they still owe him some money, doggedly chasing the puck in and out of zones and generally leading by example in a really physical game. I'm sure some Bruins fans were whining on their way home tonight over his trade.
- T.J. Oshie was another player leading by example out there. Teejie Hustle was creating chances, especially a beauty to Andy McDonald late in the third and he also leveled several Bruins with good, hard, clean checks. Poor david Krejci got the worst of all of them, but that one was a straight up, clean hockey hit. The one on Zdeno Chara was classic Oshie taking on a bigger unsuspecting player who was about to line him up. Scoring on a really pretty shootout goal was just a great way to cap a great night from Timothy Junior. I guarantee some Bruins fans went home whining about him.
- Ian Cole didn't get a ton of icetime and the one goal against was partially his fault as he was screening Halak without actually blocking the shot, but for his first NHL game he didn't look too timid to me. My guess is he'll be headed back to Peoria soon enough, but it's good for him to see how good regular season NHL hockey is down on the ice.
- Nikita Nikitin, on the other hand, didn't look like it was his first NHL game at all. He was hitting people, positioned well, jumping up into the offense. Considering that the non-prospect guru types among us look at this guy as coming virtually out of nowhere, I think the Blues have themselves a nice asset here. Can we get the kid a jersey with a real number on it though? With 64 on he looks like he's at tryouts.
- Alex Pietrangelo continues to impress in every zone. His passes are crisp and confident and his defensive positioning is sound. Furthermore he's using his size and strength effectively too. Please, Pietrangelo, no more blocking shots with the palm side of your gloves though. A broken hand would be devestating right now.
- Apparently the plan with Brad Boyes needs to be to do everything possible to spring him on breakaways all game. In the shootout he's just straight nasty (3 for 3 this year) but out five-on-five he's still having a hard time hitting the net. Someone get dude a sports psychologist because he's got the skill, he's just struggling to find it. That said, you know that superjuke he threw on Tuukka Rask has plenty of Bruins fans whining tonight.
- Jaroslav Halak. What else am I supposed to say about this guy? After the game last Saturday I tried to buy a Halak t-shirt, which is a first for me since goalies are all insane. Could not get one. All out in adult sizes above small. Guess I'm not the only one falling in love with him. He's 8-1-1 with a 94.4% save percentage and a 1.46 goals against. Beyond that, soft goal sightings in the region are down 287% for the year and the Goalie Confidence Level is currently set at Green. You know Bruins fans are definitely grumbling about Halak tonight.
- And finally, poor Nathan Horton. He had eight shots on goal, two of which looked like beautiful goals and were both called back and on a night like that, his team loses. He's gotta feel like he's back in Florida right about now. That Bruin is definitely doing some grumbling tonight.
Back at it tomorrow. At the Rangers at 5:30 St. Louis time. We'll be here. What about you?
Let's go Blues.