The St. Louis Blues were clearly leaving nothing to chance tonight. But it wasn't that hard to see it coming. No big deal, but a certain editor of a game day hockey rag called it earlier today:
The St. Louis Blues are going to win this game.
I'm no Mark Messier. I'm not one of the players. I'm not even affiliated with the team in any way. I have no inside information. I can't tell you that there's some sort of advantage the Blues have that no one else knows about yet.
But they are winning this fucking game.
At the very start of the third period, I looked down and was watching Antti Niemi in the net. I said to myself, "There's no way that guy is getting a shutout." Two minutes later, the puck was behind him in the net. It's the same thing with this game. I'm looking at the game that was already played, dominated by the Blues for long stretches, and looking at our players and their players.
There is no way the Blues are losing this game.
So, you know, I'm feeling pretty cocky right about....meow.
It wasn't really that hard to see coming. They deserved better than they got on Thursday and Ken Hitchcock isn't really the type to let a teaching moment like that one go by unnoted. It wasn't like the Blues looked outmatched during Game 1, except in short spurts that will happen in every game.
There wasn't any reason to expect anything other than the game they put together tonight.
Some bulletstew for you and then do your work in the comments:
- I was surprised about the scratches for tonight's game. Actually, I was surprised about the Chris Stewart and Ryan Reaves scratches. Kent Huskins made sense if not because he wasn't great, but because Carlo Colaiacovo is Alex Pietrangelo's good luck charm. For whatever reason, those two play well together, even if it seems like No. 27 is carrying a lot of the load there.
- Stewart was fine on Thursday, I thought, but maybe it's time to stop accepting "fine" as a description for him. Maybe he needs to be pissed off. Like the kind of pissed off you get when the coach benches you and you have your brother in town to watch you play. He'll obviously get back in the lineup at some point; let's hope he plays as pissed off as he was when he got shipped out of Colorado.
- Reaves, if you believe the whispers, was dinged up in that first game, so maybe that's why the big man didn't get onto the ice.
- In place of big Reaver, tiny Vladimir Sobotka decided to set a tone, didn't he? A goal (the eventual game-winner), 15 penalty minutes with a fight, a sweet Superman move over the goalie and into the net and about five new enemies on the San Jose team. All in 13 minutes of icetime. That kid is a playoff player, I think it's safe to say.
- Roman Polak played the best game he has had in a long time. Plus, when Roman is angry, he is very, very angry. And truly scary. He and Kris Russell looked a lot more confident tonight than in Game 1, as well. Maybe it was just a matter of getting the playoff jitters behind them. Pretty solid third pairing performance tonight.
- Jaroslav Halak is going to travel with the team and be re-evaluated tomorrow for a lower body injury. This is exactly the moment when we all thanked the hockey gods for the Brian Elliott signing. Halak had been strong to that point, but Elliott came in cold and settled everything down and shut down the Sharks. It's the first shared shutout in the playoffs since 1912 (not a real statistic). If Halak isn't ready to go on Monday, is anyone worried? I'm not.
- That end of game brawl was epic. Every playoff series gets nasty at some point and for these two teams it started tonight. It built and built until the end when penalties started stacking up both ways. Once the final horn went, shit got hectic. Instead of trying to describe it all, check out the view from GIF Heaven on the SBN Hockey Hub.
Game 3 is Monday night. Can't wait. Can not wait. Let's hear your thoughts in the comments. I didn't even mention the play of the top line or Andy McDonald and his interesting night. See how I leave some of the good stuff for you?