There are days when I hate hockey. Those days usually come about when the perfect storm occurs like it did tonight. The Blues were on late. They played a fairly boring game punctuated by a couple of exciting moments. The goals that are scored against are janky. It's just clearly a crappy loss on the way and rather than turn it off, I have to watch the rest of it and listen to the announcers make excuses for everyone's lackluster play.
And then Kent Huskins scores.
And then Alex Steen scores.
And then Brian Elliott does . . . that.
And my love for this game is restored.
Bulletpoints for discussion shortly, but first I have to go ahead and retract a statement. I have been loudly claiming that this season is tied to Jaroslav Halak, no matter what, this year. There will be no trade, there will be no call-up of Ben Bishop or Jake Allen. I stand by that.
But Brian Elliott just introduced himself to the conversation and took it over like the drunk guy with the sloshy drink and the cigar who has a million stories better than any story you've ever told. Brian Elliott is pushing you, Jaroslav, and it isn't a friendly, "Let's get you started down this sledding hill, buddy," kind of push.
Frankly, that's awesome. If Elliott continues to play as well as he did tonight, one of two things will happen:
- He will eventually take over the starting role.
- He will motivate Halak to firmly claim his starting role.
Halak is here because he responds well to competition in net. He basically ousted Carey Price in Montreal because he wanted to be the starter. Maybe that's exactly what he needs here in St. Louis, because he's never had that here. Let's hope that Elliott's game was not a fluke, but a shot across the bow of Halak's undisputed starter status. Let's also hope that Halak responds in kind and turns his guns on Elliott's ship by coming out to remove any doubt as towho is the starter.
OK, some bullet points for your discussion:
- Every game this season the Blues have surrendered the first goal. Come on, man.
- I like Davis Payne, but if he's going to change lines during the game, let's at least make some changes that make sense. At one point he threw out a line of Chris Stewart, Alex Steen and Jason Arnott. Blech. Along the way he also made a change to the seemingly obvious Evgeny Grachev, David Backes, Jamie Langenbrunner line. But, honestly, that line didn't do much. Can't we all agree that Matt D'Agostini deserves a spot on that line and that Langenbrunner should slide down to Arnott's line? I'll let you all decide whether Grachev or Alex Steen belongs on the other side of Backes.
- The power play is bad, having scored one time this season. The penalty kill has been bad allowing five goals on 14 chances this year. Special teams are on the assistant coaches, so if they continue to fail, it's time to look at Brad Shaw (penalty kill) and Ray Bennett (power play) and ask what exactly they are going to do to help this team. In my mind, Payne's job is safe. These guys, who were Andy Murray guys? Not so much.
- I love our announcers, both on the radio and on TV, but holy jumpin' there is too much apologizing going on. Yes, sometimes the goalie had no chance on a particular shot (though Elliott may have disproved that today), but it's time to drop the Bernie Federko He Had No Chance On That (TM) call every time a puck is in the net.
- Finally, an unimportant complaint: I hate, hate, hate the numbers on the front of the helmets. It's for broadcasters only and it looks dumb. If it's that much help to the media and we're going to kowtow to them, make everyone put little numbers on the top right of the jerseys like San Jose does rather than on the helmet. I don't like more numbers on the jerseys, but I like that better than I do on the front of the helmet.
Back at it tomorrow, though I know some of you baseball traitors will be flipping/checking in intermittently. Whatever. Flipping from hockey to baseball is like watching a Nascar race slam into a cement wall. If you guys want to risk the fan whiplash of going from 200 miles an hour to 1 mile an hour in less than one second, that's on you and your life insurance plans.
Let's go Blues.