You'll hear the story that professional athletes will "put money on the board" before a big game. It's usually used when a player is going up against a former team or someone has an extra-special reason to want the win. Get the win, the team takes the money off the board and uses it towards a good time that night.
With Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and Brian Elliott all wanting a big win over the Avalanche tonight, I think it's safe to assume that there was a lot of money on the board tonight. A lot. Based on the 4-0 pasting and the 39-15 shot differential, I'd also guess that the boys will be using that cash to have themselves a good time tonight.
Let's quit chit-chattin', get to the bullets and then go see if we can find the Blues out in town and get in on some free dranks:
- Chris Stewart didn't get on the scoreboard tonight, but the big man is looking like the force he was last season after he came over from the Avs. Who knows what goes on in these guys' heads, especially when they're struggling, but it sure seems like putting him on a line with David Backes made him realize that, Oh yeah, I'm as big and bad as that dude. Maybe I'll go start some ruckus of my own.Second Half Stewie seems like he's just about fully arrived for the year.
- Speaking of The Captain, he seems to have his motor running every shift this year. There were times last year when maybe he wasn't full blast all the time, but this season he is taking the new leadership role to heart and going hard every shift. It's very Oshie-like. And, for that matter, Perron-like.
- David Perron is so fun to watch play. He's always been talented, but he's using his feet and speed better than ever and it's earning him time on the power play and on the penalty kill. He's using that stick constantly and he is an annoying gnat for opponents. He has always been good at drawing penalties (per behindthenet.com) but these days he is finding he can draw the penalties without the diving and flopping he used to use. He, too, did not get on the scoresheet, but his influence was everywhere.
- Similarly, T.J. Oshie was revved up tonight - maybe the money on the board had his mind working in overdrive. He had two more assists and decked more Colorado players than you could count - each one seemed harder and more devastating than the last. Looks like that one year contract he signed has him motivated to get paaaaaaaid this summer.
- I love watching Alex Pietrangelo play. In case you hadn't heard, the 21-year-old is the Blues' No. 1 defenseman. He was great defensively, active offensively (two assists tonight) and just a steady, calming influence whenever he's on the ice. He seldom makes the big mistake, often makes the right play and usually covers up others' indiscretions almost too easily. Don't forget that he was so good last year, he made Erik Johnson expendable. This year he's even better than that.
- Shattenkirk personally found a way to let the Avalanche know that they made a mistake trading him. He had a goal and an assist, played great defense in his zone and was an active force in all three zones. So, you know, he had the same game he usually does. He's already made us forget all about Erik Johnson, but today he made us laugh at Erik Johnson.
- Before getting to the Blues' goaltending situation, it would be unfair to skip over the game played by Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Sure, he took the loss and allowed four goals, but this game could have been a 10-0 laugher. He faced 39 shots and, unlike a lot of Blues games when they have nearly 40 shots, most of them were quality chances. While the Avs were content to fire unscreened shots from the perimeter, the Blues were deflecting shots, using screens, turning cross-ice feeds into one-timers and crashing the net for rebound attempts. Giguere wasn't the Avs' problem tonight.
- Brian Elliott only stopped 15 shots to get his 15th win and fifth shutout, but that's often harder to do than when the goalie is more active and involved. He did a great job against the team that hung him out to dry a lot of nights last year and then didn't even offer him a contract this summer. I'm sure the win and the shutty felt good. More importantly, it puts pressure on Jaroslav Halak again. In the goalies' game of oneupmanship they've been playing for the last six weeks. As we've talked about, I think Halak plays better when he is in a competition and what he has with Elliott is a competition. On Tuesday he returns to Montreal, the team that traded him, so let's hope he does to them what Elliott did to his old team.
Enough of me, now it's time for more of you. Comment in the, uh, comments and revel in the fact that the Blues are in first in the division until tomorrow, when the Hawks and Wings play each other and one of them jumps us again. But whatever, that's for tomorrow. Tonight the Blues are first in the Central, second in the West.