Message Received, 'Cock: 60 minute game by Blues is a win against Lightning

When the Blues started off a little herky-jerky in the first period of Thursday's game against Toronto, it ultimately cost them. They got down by two goals and despite wildly outplaying the Leafs in the last 40 minutes, the best they could manage was to force the overtime/shootout where they lost out on the extra point. After the game, Coach Ken (you call him Hitch, we're calling him The 'Cock) Hitchcock said that a letdown like that was unacceptable in the NHL and that it would be addressed in practice and meetings with the team.

Uh, message received.

The Blues played the same type of puck possession game they played in the Cock's first game against Chicago. They limited the Lightning's quality offensive chances and controlled large chunks of the game by winning puck battles and making smart passes with the puck. It sure didn't look like Tampa had many opportunities to set up their now-infamous 1-3-1 defensive trap because the Blues attacked quickly and with speed out of their defensive zone.

Surely Coach Payne is watching somewhere thinking, "Why didn't it look like that a week ago?" Hopefully, Hitchcock is actually doing something different with the players and schemes, because if he's not, then the players just didn't work as hard for Payne. Which would be upsetting.

Sattidy night and, lo and behold, my drinkin' boots are on. So, I gotta get to the gettin', so you all get. . . bulletpoints!

 

  • Kris Russell, the first addition of a "HitchCock Guy" to the team, had a pretty solid night, scoring the first and game-winning goal with a blast from the point. His shot was screened out front, but that thing was a bomb anyway. Pretty solid way to make the fans love you early. On a related note, Nikita Nikitin, who couldn't crack the Blues lineup, played over 25 minutes in Columbus tonight. Yes, 25 minutes. He had an assist and the Jackets won their third game of the season. Seems like problem solved in Columbus, no?
  • Kevin Shattenkirk is all that is man. Mother of god does he have a great feel for when to jump up into the play and he has such a sweet finish. His goal late in the second (less than five seconds left in the period) was a thing of beauty and a back-breaker for the Lightning. His MOvember mustache is so '70s Camaro cool that I feel like he should keep it, do donuts in the parking lot while blasting Classic Rock out his T-Tops after every practice. More Than A Feeling, indeed, Dirtstache. More Than A Feeling.
  • So many things the Blues did tonight could be broken down into little video clips and shown to young hockey players (or older hockey players who need a reminder from time to time *cough* BLUES *cough*), but one of the best was David Backes' pursuit of the puck behind the net while on the penalty kill. That effort turned into a turnover, turned into one of the easiest goals T.J. Oshie has ever scored. Go For Osh got the goal, but Backes created the whole thing through sheer force of will.
  • Speaking of Oshie, his five goals and six assists are both second on the team and he is tied with Captain Dirtstachenkirk for the team point lead. Our knock on The Osh for the last couple years is that he was turning into more flash than substance. Sure, he was good for a couple highlight reel goals a year and a couple "Holy Hell!" hits a year, but he could never turn it into a consistent effort. He'd never reached 20 goals or 60 points in a season. This year he's on pace to break both marks. If he can do that, he can finally prove that he's about to stake a claim to being a top-6 player and not just a hype machine with dreamy locks who makes the ladies loose their minds and turn off their alarm clocks. You know, allegedly.
  • Brian Elliott understands that a one-year contract to be the backup here is a chance to re-start his career, whether it's in St. Louis or somewhere else in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak has played with more confidence and turned in better outings over the last few games, but Elliott's numbers speak for themselves: He's 6-1-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average, a 94.6% save percentage and two shutouts. At 26-years-old, I'd wager that he's definitely re-starting his career if he can keep it going. How many NHL netminders didn't get their NHL legs under them until they were older than 26? Shitpotsfull, that's how many.
  • Someone was feeding me some line of shit today about how Barret Jackman is overpaid. My response? That line is so 2008. Jackman's game has evolved and he has been so solid for this team in every way, his $3.6 million cap hit looks like a freaking bargain. I get it - you don't watch much hockey but you remember hearing that Eric Brewer and Jackman are overpaid and they suck. Problem is, it's just not true. No. 5's contract is up this offseason. Re-sign that dude and keep him here for another four years.

 

OK, that should give you all some stuff to start with, but I'm not all-inclusive. Let's hear your thoughts in the comments. As additional fodder, Evgeni Grachev looked pretty good tonight, so I might want to start the #NateTheGreatHatesRussians and Brad Lee skipped the Blues game to go see The Urge when everyone knows that the smart Blues fans saw The Urge last night and the hockey game tonight. Then again #BradLeeHatesTheBlues.

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