And my Detroit gently weeps as the Blues continue to prove that they are a real team and not to be trifled with. The Blues played hard against a Penguins team that, even without Sidney Crosby, has the ability to quick-strike and score a lot of goals and never allowed them the opportunity to explode like that.
Sure, the Blues could have had some more jump in the first period. Sure, they could have gotten lucky with a couple more bounces. Sure, sure, sure. At the end of the night, they lost a flip of the coin and still gained a point on that team from Michigan with the legion of fans who have never been to Detroit and who freak out every time you say you don't like them or don't respect them. Also: we don't respect them and yes, you cared more about last night's win than we cared about last night's loss.
I got shit to do, so it's time to point up these bullets:
- Kris Russell looked good to me tonight. For a guy who is about five-foot-zero and 120 pounds in his gear, he makes a lot of good, smart plays defensively. Don't expect any big hits from Hitchcock's boy, but he does a good job of separating guys from the puck with his positioning, stick and feet.
- Kevin Shattenkirk is, apparently, working on his defensive game these days. He was plus-1 and didn't make any glaring defensive mistakes, but he hasn't hit the scoresheet in five games and has just one assist in his last eight. If the guy who sat behind me tonight had this information, he would be yelling out, "Trade Shattenkirk!" as he did for Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Barret Jackman and others tonight. Unfortunately, Detroit does not have a monopoly on stupid fans. A veto-majority, yes, a monopoly, no.
- Patrik Berglund must have read my article tonight which centered on something I called The Berglund Conundrum. The basic gist was that Berglund is playing himself out of town, but the GM can't trade Berglund because he basically has no value. Tonight, dude had value. Had he hit the shootout shot, he would have won the game by himself. As it is, he only earned the Blues a point in the standings basically all by himself.
- Brian Elliott played well again, but his style is becoming more and more different from Jaroslav Halak's. While both guys are playing well, Halak has a flair for the amazing, twisting save. Elliott, on the other side, seems to make every save look clean and simple. No wasted motion, no wild, exciting flailing. Which is more deflating to the other team: the unbelievable steal or the save that looks like every shot you throw on him is an easy stop?
- Vladimir Sobotka, as we've said time and time again here, is barely taller than Kris Russell and never gets knocked off the puck. On top of that, he annoys the crap out of everyone on the other team, is responsible in every zone and can be trusted on any line Hitchcock chooses to throw him on. Scotty Nichol approves of all of this but believes that people like them should only play on the fourth line.
- Carlo Colaiacovo has been barely mentioned in the media and on this site this year, but he is having a solid season. Last night's weird headlock penalty aside he has been good defensively and has chipped in offensively too. He's only got one goal, but he has 14 points and is plus-7. Not bad for what is essentially a depth defenseman these days.
- Chris Stewart. Hmm. I'd like to pan this guy again, but he is living the classic hockey cliche these days: when a scorer isn't scoring he says, "You just have to find other ways to get involved in the game. Play a physical game. Try to shake things up. Create chances for other guys." Tonight he lived that cliche and Berglund was the recipient of the good karma created with the hockey gods. People can say his penalty against the Wings was dumb, but I'm with David Backes who said it was a good sign to his team that he'd stand up for them. He's a team guy and he's doing whatever he can to find a way to help out. Sooner or later it'll happen for him. Hopefully in the playoffs.
You do the rest, I'm tired. Plus, bulletpoints are just a starting point - you guys make this thing happen. Ten days off until the Note play again. Expect lots and lots of baited hooks 'round these parts.