It may have only been an October game, but that win was so satisfying, I fell into a contented sleep as soon as I got home! Unfortunately, that was bad news for you guys. But you're here now, and that's all that matter.
The Blues, coming off a 2nd straight illness-induced failure, took the ice against Those Fuckers Up North, the Chicago Blackhawks looking to right the ship. And out of the gate, it didn't look pretty. The Blues took two penalties within the first minute of the contest - Jay Bouwmeester for hooking at 00:16 and Barret Jackman for roughing at 00:54 - leading to a long 5-on-3 that didn't last very long. Patrick Kane was able to find Patrick Sharp all alone on the far post for the first goal of the game to give TFUN a 1-0 lead only 62 seconds in.
From there, the Hawks controlled play for the first half of the first period. Then at 12:15, Alex Pietrangelo pinched in to keep the puck, playing it to T.J. Oshie. The pass oddly bounced off Osh's skate and deflected right to Jaden Schwartz, who shot it on goal. Antii Raanta, Chicago's 2nd-string below average goaltender, was perfectly screened by David Backes which allowed the puck to slip through to even the score 1-1.
From there, the Blues really took off, out shooting the Hawks 27-14 and racking up a 61.4% share of Fenwick through the end of the 2nd period. But the last two minutes of the 2nd proved to be the difference in the game.
At 18:09, the 4th line of Ryan Reaves, Maxim Lapierre, and Steve Ott all proved to have actual use. Lapierre stole the puck from Michal Rozsival at the blueline. Ott collected it on the wing and centered to Lapierre, who took the shot. Raanta stopped it, but couldn't control the rebound before Reaver found it and tried to knock it in on the second chance try. Initially the puck was whistled frozen for a face-off - which would have led to a Blues power play as Rozisval had hooked Lappy. But then The War Room in Toronto picked up the phone and changed the game.
This sequence was particularly confusing for the peebrained Hawks fans watching WGN, as apparently they did not have a camera set at the one angle that clearly showed the puck crossed the line, leading the Chicago broadcasters to continue bitching about the call deep into the 2nd intermission.
That surprise goal - 12th of Reaver's career - pumped up the crowd and the team, leading to a buzzing shift in the offensive zone. Patrik Berglund played the puck along the boards behind Raanta's net, finding Pietrangelo. Petro shot, Raanta saved it, but the rebound came out far to the slot, where Dmitrij Jaskin found it and put it home for the 3-1 Blues lead with wonly 5 seconds left in the period. It was Jaskin's second NHL goal of his career, both against the Blackhawks. Scottrade exploded.
The Hawks would take advantage of score effects in the third period, rallying to fight back. They even pulled a goal back, as Ian Cole was badly drawn out of position on the rush, allowing Sharp to find Kris Versteeg embarrassinglyuncovered to draw Chicago to within 3-2. with more than 17 minutes left to tie it up. They never did, and the Blues held on for two huge points in regulation.
A few quick thoughts:
- Again it's only October, but this win was huge for a few reasons. First of all, we didn't merely take advantage of bad day for the Blackhawks. Chicago played overall pretty well. We didn't even play and even game and go "toe-to-toe." The Hawks played reasonably well, and over the course of 60 minutes we played clearly better. Even the games we won in this series last year I don't think that would apply to. We spent the week dreading about the shitty play in Anaheim and against the Canucks - we even went back and forth about Ken Hitchcock's employment situation. And then this game happened. It's only 60 minutes in October, but this is the kind of games that hot streaks are born from. Let's hope that happens.
- The Blues were playing the puck well in the offensive zone. There was good side to side movement that hasn't been there the last few games. Keep it up.
- Blackhawks fans might whine that Corey Crawford might have changed this game, since his rebound control is much better than Raanta's, which would have eliminated both Reaves' and Jaskin's goal in theory. Let them cling to that - they may even be right. Just keep in mind - if we don't stupidly put ourselves 2 men down in the first minute and
Ian Cole doesn'tIan Cole is in the pressbox like he should be, this game could have been - maybe even should have been - 3-0.
- Sometimes it feels as if Hitch is telling the guys to hesitate taking the shot on odd man rushes. Credit to Niklas Hjalmarsson and that asswipe Brent Seabrook, who both defended odd man rushes beautifully to not allow either to result on a shot on goal, but the Blues have been either delaying the shot or passing up on a better chance to try and set up a teammate pretty consistently this year. That has to end soon.
- I was sure that after Steve Ott took a mis-aimed retaliatory slashing penalty after the whistle with less than 8 minutes left that the Hawks would tie the game. Both the Blues PK & Hawks PP units were forced to play the entire 2 minutes, and the Blues held up well and only allowed 1 shot on goal. Great kill, but Otter MUST be smarter than to put his team in that position.
- It's a counting stat counted by the home arena's official scorer, so it's not always the most reliable figure, but the Blues were credited with 10 take aways against only 2 give aways. Puck retention like that is absolutely vital to beating the Blackhawks.
- Jaskin didn't just score the game winning goal, he also collected a 63% corsi for. This is what Jaskin can do. Play him - on the Blues, not he Wolves.
Speaking of Swedish corsi(edit: Sorry, Jaskin is a Russian-born Czech. My bad.), Patrik Berglund of all people led the way with a 70% CF. I've ragged on Bergie in the past, but if he can put up figures like that in games like this, plus score every once in a while, you could do a lot worse with your 3rd line center/left winger.
- Fun fact I learned while listening to post game on KMOX: Joakim Lindstrom 's nickname among his teammates is "Joker." As of this very minute, that is officially a "thing."
- Lost in all of the madness of the Reaves goal review, Steve Ott picked up his first assist of the year, bringing the #OttSpot count up to 1.