Quite a lot was made last year of the Blues' struggles with the three California teams, going 1-8 combined against the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks in 2013-14. In many cases the Blues had trouble even competing with those opponents, with 4 of those 8 losses being by 3 or more goals.
Tonight (or early this morning for some of you) the Blues not only proved they could play with the defending California State Champions (and also the Stanley Cup I guess), they beat the Kings at their own game: puck possession. Unfortunately, they couldn't beat them at the actual game of hockey, as they failed to get any rubber behind Jonathan Quick, who put in a stellar performance to stop 43 shots to force a shootout. He then stopped 3 more while Brian Elliott, who was equally impressive if in much less action, couldn't keep Jeff Carter out in the skill competition, leading to a 1-0 win for Those Assholes Out West.
Don't sue me, Brad &/or Juan Mallagher, but let's do some bullet points.
- There are so many reasons to not get upset about this loss, and not just because of the Fancy Stats. Yet it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it's just because it's the fucking Kings, maybe it's because Jeff Carter was the one to win it. A lot of it has to do with with not being able to beat Quick. Jonathan Quick is a decent enough goalie, but he's no Dominik Hasek. Hell, his career save percentage is .915 - that's pretty pedestrian. But the Blues especially have a tendency to make him look immortal. Credit to him, he did make some fine saves tonight, but this has been an issue for the Blues against LA for going on 4 years now.
- One of the positive take aways is that not only were the Blues able to control possession, but the eye test showed they were more willing and often successful in carrying the puck into the offensive zone. That's no small feat against LA, even on a bad night. I'll admit, my Fancy Stat footing falls short of zone entries, so if someone wants to find some figures that back me up (or prove me wrong), please don't hesitate to share.
- Both teams were 0/4 on the power play. I honestly felt like we were pretty threatening at times, but once again you've gotta capitalize on your chances. Especially 4-on-3.
- I mentioned on Twitter, but I'll say it again: 4-on-3s are fun. If I ran the universe, all power plays would be 4-on-3.
- The Cardinals game ended during 1st intermission. From the 2nd period on, the Blues outshot LA 34-11. They really wanted to make us feel better. It's the thought that counts, guys.
- Must we continue the charade of Ian Cole being a top line defenseman? I get the idea of wanting to even out the quality blueline minutes - back in the days of Pronger-MacInnis, Q would usually split them up so to the point that there'd be about 3-5 minutes per game without at least one of them on the ice. I even get the feeling that pairing Jay Bouwmeester with Kevin Shattenkirk is meant to minimize some of the defensive miscues that plauqued Shatty last season, but the whole reason we traded for J-Bouw in the first place was to pair with Alex Pietrangelo, and Petro can't be all he can be if he has to be responsible for covering Cole's ass all the time. Here's hoping Carl Gunnarsson gets back sooner rather than later.
- Unless I'm forgetting, there was no Eric Cartman chants at Staples Center tonight. Good fucking riddance. And while I'm on the subject, put South Park out its misery, too. It's as old now as The Simpsons was when I graduated high school - and I was 13 months old when The Simpsons began!
- I don't think I've ever seen a goalie break his stick during play and have to use a skater's stick before. Hockey can be weird sometimes.
- I've been banging the Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko line drum since before we even signed Walnuts, but I feel like you could put either Stastny or Tarasenko on any line and they'll drive play on the ice. Paulie's been even better than I thought he'd be, and Frank looks to be blossoming into something really special. Add in my bro-crush on Schwartzie and...you can see why I'm giddy about the three of them!
- I'm not sure why just yet, but I've been quietly impressed with Joakim Lindstrom so far. I think he tends to hold onto the puck too long in spots, but he's quickly getting better at that, and if he keeps on that track, he could secretly turn into the steal of the summer we all acted like Jori Lehtera was.
We interrupt this NLCS elimination game to remind that the Blues play the goddamn Kings in 25 minutes. pic.twitter.com/9i3JWDend8— Jason McAdams (@JMill1120) October 17, 2014
Have we talked about how good the Blues uniforms look this year?— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) October 17, 2014
Ian Cole never took penalties in the press box... I'm just sayin.. #stlblues— Kyle Foxton (@kfox9611) October 17, 2014
Great defense in the corner by that inanimate carbon hockey stick.— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) October 17, 2014
Skills Comp notwithstanding.... we went into the belly of the beast, and held our own. Not down on this game at all. Next up, Ducks. #GetEm— CrossCheckRaise (@CrossCheckRaise) October 17, 2014
Death, taxes, and the late game going to overtime.— Patrick Burke (@BurkieYCP) October 17, 2014
Shit is brown. Dustin Brown. See the similarity? #stlblues— Hitch's Hat (@HitchsHat) October 17, 2014