Tough one on tap tonight, ladies and gentlemen. The Blues are coming off a spirited 3-2 overtime win last night against the Colorado Avalanche. Now tonight they host the San Jose Sharks, a team that will want to get off to a strong start a nine-game road trip that begins with this game. Yeah, nine games. Did Joe Thornton sleep with the NHL schedule maker's sister or something?
The Blues dominated the game Saturday night yet still needed the extra period for the victory. What was exciting was seeing the Blues completely control the flow of the game and keep the puck in the offensive zone for entire shifts. The Avalanche simply couldn't breath without a Blues player buzzing the net or digging hard on the forecheck. The Blues outshot Colorado 44-19.
Yet the Blues were one bouncing puck or two-on-one rush for Colorado from losing that game in regulation and coming away with zero points. Thin line to walk right there.
We're really hopeful that the reports of Andy McDonald's return to the lineup tonight will happen. He creates chaos in the offensive zone and is easily one of the best two or three skaters on the team. Folks who have attended practice say that McDonald is just as fast and smooth on his feet than before his concussion back in mid-October. As Doug Armstrong might say, keep your head up, yo.
I'd guess that Jaroslav Halak gets the start in net. Just when we think he's nailed down the semi-official yet not publicly proclaimed job of No. 1 goaltender for your St. Louis Blues, he gets yanked in New Jersey, Brian Elliott stops everything he sees that game and makes some timely if infrequent saves against Colorado last night. The fact that Elliott saw time against the Avalanche and Halak was penciled in for the more dangerous Sharks should confirm the landscape hasn't changed. For now. Damn, it's a nice problem to have. Between bites of doughnut, Hitchcock has to be muttering "Which hot goaltender should I start tonight? Too many choices." Also, "Where's my Yoohoo?"
So the elephant in the room is still the presence of Joe Thornton on the ice and the realization of what he did to David Perron last year that cost him 98 games from concussion symptoms. The Blues never really went after him for retribution on the ice, so I think that should continue. Don't do anything stupid and try to settle an old score that could put the Sharks on the power play. Don't want that at all. Ignoring him is the best policy, by far.
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