Jaden Schwartz makes me feel things.
After a particularly frustrating loss in LA on Thursday night, the Blues took their game into the desert in hopes to take their goal scoring woes out on the newly rechristened Arizona Coyotes. They did exactly that, and more in whipping the Yotes by a final score of 6-1, led by Schwartzie's first career hat trick and a power play that went 4/4.
The game got off to an unfortunate start, as Paul Stastny got hit by a couple...odd hits on his first shift, both causing him to land awkwardly on his left arm. He left the game and did not return, and afterwards was reportedly in a sling. Ken Hitchcock called him "day-to-day," but did go as far as to rule him out of tomorrow's game against the Anaheim Ducks. Here's hoping it's nothing serious and that they don't rush him back - the best way to waste a $7 million/year siging is bringing him back from an injury too soon in October.
As for the actual hockey, the Blues controlled the first period fairly well, out shooting the Coyotes 15-7 and controlling 67.5% of the corsi events, but once again had some trouble finishing their chances. Until Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for interference. which led to a scrum in front of Mike Smith that eventually saw the puck bounce off of David Backes ' skate and into the net. The play was reviewed, but no "distinct kicking motion" was detected, so the goal stood at 17:42 of the first.
From there, the Blues took off and didn't look back. Alexander Steen scored his first of the year after Backes passed up on a rebound chance off a Vladimir Tarasenko shot to play it back to the Manitoban Swede, who knocked it in just under Smith's blocker. 72 seconds later, Schwartz played the puck to Vova on the opposite wing, then found absolutely no one defending the opposite post. Frank found Prince William all alone, and Schwartzie completely undressed Mike Smith without even moving to put the Blues comfortably up 3-0.
55 seconds into the 3rd period, Jori Lehtera won an offensive zone faceoff straight to Schwartz on his left, who with one motion made Mike Smith look like a (bigger) fool glove side for his 2nd goal of the game. It was also Jori's first point of his NHL career.
After Arizona's Lauri Korpikoski was left all alone in front of the net on a Coyotes power play to break Jake Allen's bid for his first shutout of the year, Lehtera was able to leak a puck through Smith's five hole to restore the Blues' 4 goal cushion at 5-1. Although Smith played it very poorly (more on that below), it was Jori's first NHL goal. A final power play for the Blues right at the end allowed Schwartzie to complete the hat trick at 19:57 to ice the game at 6-1.
I would embed the corsi or fenwick chart here, but both Hockey Stats.ca and War-On-Ice are acting up a tad & not letting me download them, so if you'd like to see those, help yourself with these links.
Some points worth bullet-ing:
- Jaden Schwartz didn't just record his first hat trick, he also added an assist for a 4 point night, giving him 7 points in the first 4 games. That projects to a 144 point season. That probably won't happen (...probably), but he's having himself a hot start. May it never end!
- Brad mentioned this in the paper last week, but it just seems like Schwartz & Tarasenko were made to play on the same line. Finding two forwards with this kind of chemistry is pretty damn difficult. That the Blues were able to find them not just in the same draft, but in the same first round just two picks away from each other almost feels like fate. With some of the plays they pull together, I'd swear they share the same brain. Or at least have Sedin-esque ESP of some sort.
- Get well soon Paulie Walnuts.
- I know it seems petty to bitch about a ref's decision in a game that we won 6-1, but I'm not sure how the hell the
high stick"roughing" on Backes in the 2nd wasn't a double minor. His forehead looked like a cherry gusher.
- Jake Allen quietly had a good night as well. He didn't get the shutout, but there were a few..."coachable moments" that the Yotes weren't able to capitalize on. We may have gotten away with them tonight, we may have even gotten away with them in LA. But you bet your ass Chicago nails those chances. For that matter, so will Anaheim tomorrow night. It's hard to be perfect every night out of 82+, but when you leave two guys all alone in the slot, you can't count on Shane Doan slipping on an imaginary banana peel every time. Better to fix that now rather than April.
- Jaden's getting the love, but Tarasenko may have actually been the best player on the ice. He had 3 assists and a career high 7 shots on goal, not to mention a Corsi For of 71% at even strength.
- Mikkel Boedker, coming off his own hat trick, was held to only 2 shots on goal and an even strength CF of only 34% in 18:13 of playing time. Well done on that one.
- Thank Plager this game ended in a blowout...because I really didn't want to go to bed tonight ruing the wasting of a 3-on-0 that failed to even get a shot on net.
Jaden Schwartz & Vladimir Tarasenko are like The Fox & The Hound, only they're The Canadian & The Russian. (...The Beaver & The Bear?)— Jason McAdams (@JMill1120) October 19, 2014
Surely, at some time, Rob Klinkhammer has been credited with a hit on Nail Yakupov, right? #NailedIt— CrossCheckRaise (@CrossCheckRaise) October 19, 2014
The Goal by David Backes is his 161st. Ties him with Jorgen Pettersson for 8th all time in St Louis Blues history. #stlblues— STL Blues History (@STLBlueshistory) October 19, 2014
Tarasenko has 2 assists, he was traded for David Rundblad. By the transitive property of Euro hockey this is all Rundblad's fault.— Five For Howling (@Five4Howling) October 19, 2014
No, this is how you make an e-rat. @HitchsHat pic.twitter.com/Pc75gEoWID— Jason McAdams (@JMill1120) October 19, 2014
Lehtera with a bad goal on smith. Smith used a one knee down on a play that you need to straight butterfly. Weak five hole. #Coyotes #Blues— Corey Hirsch (@CoreyHirsch) October 19, 2014
Gee. Maybe I SHOULDN'T be hoping they move this turd-bucket to Seattle. #Coyotes #StLBlues— Tyler Atwood (@KingDonutI) October 19, 2014
I threw a pillow at the TV because I didn't have a hat handy...........— Marissa (@PietranJello) October 19, 2014
2 on 0? Pshhf. Pretty confident the Blues would mess up a 5 on 0.— Derek Steele (@DerekSteele22) October 19, 2014
Schwartz and Tarasenko REALLY miss Sobotka. #Glue— Art Lippo (@ArtLippo) October 19, 2014
And the Tweet of the Game, even if it doesn't match the tone of the game itself...
I think it's the "knowing I can't win" part of the casino that appeals to me as a Blues fan.— Street Lightning (@socityhooligan) October 18, 2014
Alright, we're right back at it tomorrow night in Anaheim. It's Sunday, so it's an earlier puck drop, but it's still West Coast, so it evens out to a normal, 7:00 central game time. Meet you back here.
Oh, and vote on the player of the game - we need an official SLGT moniker for the winner...discuss as to what that'd be.