With great efforts against tough teams like Detroit and Anaheim on their resume this year, the Blues have shown everyone that they can hang with any team in the NHL. With uninspired losses to teams like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Phoenix this year, the Blues have also shown everyone that they can take someone lightly and get outplayed. It's a disturbing trend and one that we saw last year at the start of the season, too.
Luckily for those of us pulling for the Note, tonight they should be playing up to a team like Pittsburgh and their shiny new Stanley Cup champions rings.
And while the Penguins have been the 'exciting young up-and-coming team' of the NHL's marketers for years now, we're starting to see that phraseology starting to be applied to the exciting young up-and-coming Blues more and more. But the fact of the matter is that the Blues and the Penguins aren't all that similar beyond the fact that they both have young, exciting players on the roster.
While the recent draft histories of the Penguins and the Blues may seem to be similar, in fact they aren't that close. During the five drafts between 2002 and 2006 the Pens drafted 5th overall (Ryan Whitney), 1st overall (M-A Fleury), 2nd overall (Evgeni Malkin), 1st overall (Sidney Crosby) and 2nd overall (Jordan Staal). The Blues, on the other hand, have drafted in the top five picks of the draft only twice; 2008, Alex Pietrangelo 4th overall and 2006, Erik Johnson 1st overall. While the Blues have drafted in the 'concensus' part of the draft only twice and come away with defensemen both times, the Pens had five no-brainer picks to build their team around.
The Blues, in this short rebuilding period, have had to make smart choices and find quality players in the later parts of the first round as well as in later rounds of the draft. The Pens have been picking superstars. For the Blues to truly take on the mantle of the next young, exciting team and to have even close to the same success as tonight's opponent has had, they'll have to do it a different way. The Blues will never be as skilled as this Penguins team, and while they have a lot of talented youngsters in the lineup and even more making their way to St. Louis via Peoria and the junior leagues, they're always going to have work harder and play smarter than a team built around superstar talent if they are to be successful.
Tonight we have a chance to see how a young, talented, energetic hard-working team stacks up against a young, talented, energetic team built around a deep base of superstars.
The Pens are 7-1-0 and are in first place in their division and in the Eastern Conference. The Blues, at 3-2-1 are thrid in the Central, 10th in the Western Conference and need the points. Unless you happen to have DirecTV, the game is on Versus: The Outdoor Life, CageWrasslin' and Hockey Channel. For those with old-time radios you can tune to KMOX. The opponent's viewpoint can be seen at PensBurgh or the Pensblog.
This is your Game Day Thread.