I missed the first period tonight because I was watching my Squirt play a game, so these bulletpoints are back-end loaded. As such, many, many positives tonight. Hugs? Hugs.
Back-end loaded bulletpoints!
- David Backes likes to worry Blues fans with games where he's kind of quiet or he goes a stretch without scoring any goals. And then he has a game like tonight where he's everywhere, almost to the point where you see multiple No. 42s out on the ice. The empty netter was a nice stat-padder/game-ender, but his first goal (which I only saw on replay), was the kind of goal that motivates the whole team. Nice work, Cap'n.
- So, if the Ken Hitchcock hiring is working out, the move that he supposedly engineered to acquire Kris Russell is working out just as well. His second goal as a Blue was a beauty, but also an illustration of how the Blues love to get their offensive blueliners to jump up into the play. Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Russell were all up in the play, creating odd-man chances all night long. I think that's chaotic and hard to defend against if executed properly. So do the Blues' opponents.
- Timothy Junior was great tonight. He was held scoreless after his goal was waved off, but he was using his speed and playing aggressively and not only created chances in the offensive zone, but also was a disruptive force in the defensive end too. Let's all hope Oshie continues to play his ass off and make the Blues have to put up a nice contract extension offer this summer.
- Lots of people are jumping on the "Shattenkirk might be better than Pietrangelo" trend right now, to which I say, Slow down, Tiger. Shattenkirk clearly has a great offensive flair and the great defensive play he had to make on Tomas Kopecky to prevent a quality shorthanded chance was really impressive, but Pietrangelo is so good in all three zones. He is offensive, he is defensively responsible, he is calm and collected with the puck and he seldom makes the risky move that could cause problems. It's hard to pick between the two, because both are so good right now, but lets all take into consideration how good Pietrangelo's complete game is.
- Vladimir Sobotka is the biggest 5'8 and the tougest little bastard on the team. When Patrik Berglund blasted Dmitri Kulikov in the first period, I couldn't see the screen too well and just assumed it was Sobotka. His nifty backhand saucer pass on Russell's goal was, as Darren Pang called it, buttery. If there was a contest to determine which Blues player worked the hardest night after night Sobotka would likely finish tied for first with Alex Steen.
- Saving the best news for last, Jaroslav Halak seems to have gotten himself out of his early season funk. The combination of having to compete with the stellar play of Brian Billy Elliott and the confidence boost he received from Hitchcock on his arrival have combined to give us early 2010 Halak back in net. If he can sustain it, the tandem of Halak and Elliott (who, according to the GT Trivia tonight have the lowest average draft position of any tandem in the NHL) could be come a devastating and feared duo this year.
Back at it Sattidy in Minnesota, where the Blues have some scores to settle. Can the Cock Domination continue?