First things first: teams are starting to look past the Blues. Calgary started Curtis McIlhinney tonight, he of four games played this season (Miikka Kiprusoff has played in 29). But let's give the Blues this: they took advantage of not having to play Kiprusoff and did what they needed to get one of those heretofore elusive home wins.
Generally speaking, that team reminded me of the Blues of the early part of the Edmonton game. As we were talking about that game tonight at the rink I made the comment that at first we were all so excited because they were playing like the team we thought we had. Then, in the third period, they played like the team we unfortunately knew we had. That second team never showed up tonight.
Yes, there were mistakes; teams don't play perfect for all 60 minutes. barret Jackman lost track of Jarome Iginla a couple times and it nearly cost them. Yes, Brad Boyes missed the net wide again in key situations, but at least he made some smart plays with the puck and wound up with three assists tonight. Chris Mason made his standard unbelievable save and his standard "how'd that go in?" faux pas.
Overall, however, the type of effort we expect to see from this team every night. If it takes Barret Jackman and Keith Tkachuk mistreating each other in practice like they did this weekend, then so be it. Professional athletes are weird, giant man-child finely tuned coordinated machines. Head games and superstitions come with the territory.
Finally, a few other notes from tonight:
- I didn't see the Hull ceremony, but I'm hoping to catch the replay. I was in the building early enough to catch the whole game and when they showed Hullie up on the jumbotron and he flashed that smile-smirk of his and gave the thumbs-up, it made me smile. I miss that guy. He made me a hockey fan. I love that guy.
- In case you missed it, the fan that yelled something out that gave Hull pause and made the whole rink laugh was someone who yelled out, "Keenan sucks!" People said it looked like Hull wanted to say something about it. Personally, I don't know how he refrained.
- Another great recurring joke of the night was the interviews of Hull's Team. Angelllla asked Tony Twist, Curtis Joseph, Geoff Courtnall and others to tell a 'family friendly Brett Hull story. Not one of them could do it. CuJo even said, "There are no family-friendly Brett Hull stories." Did I mention that I love that guy?
- As for the game, a big sign that things went the right way is that I don't have to gush about the play of Silent Jay McClement tonight. When McClement's solid defensive play is noticable, things aren't going well for the team. Silent Jay was solid as always, but it's a good thing that he was overshadowed.
- Apparently Brett Hull said in an interview today that T.J. Oshie reminds him a lot of himself when he was that age. All I can say about that is that we should all go into avoid the jinx mode and never speak of this again. That said, how fitting was it for the Teej to win the game with a Hullian shot late in the game? Sinking into a hole in the defense and then snapping on in? Quite fitting, actually.
- On the power play tonight, Brad lee said, "Why is Alex Steen out there?" I replied with, "He's a great puck handler." A second later he fired a shot that scored. Call both of us crazy.
- David Perron may not have scored and I may be starting to come over to the Answer Man's theory that his teammates don't like him based on their lack of obvious love for him on-ice, but there are few players in the NHL that have that want for the puck that Frenchie has. Even when he's stickhandling through the defense and they're hooking and holding him, he stays focused, keeps moving his feet and trying to get the puck back. You can't teach that quality. wanting the puck is what makes players better than like-skilled equals.
In Chicago tomorrow, which will be a huge test. It'll be a good chance to see how much confidence this team got from tonight as they try to beat a fierce rival in the first game they play against them this year.
You want something else? Here it is, your Hullian end to the Brett Hull Night: