Disclaimer: I love NHL enforcers. Tony Twist, Kelly Chase, Reed Low, Cam Janssen, and D.J. King. My favorite movie is Goon. I get out of my seat when fights happen. I quietly root for them to score a goal. I was a 4th line grinder/enforcer type when I played in high school. It all runs together. It's the easy reason Ryan Reaves is my favorite Blues player.
He is on the ice to get inside the other team's head, plant them on their ass, punish the ones who mistreat his teammates, and generally wreak havoc. He reminds me of Steven Seagal in Out for Justice. The man has a need to impose his will on other players.
He's not perfect. He misses hits. He gets dirty. He takes it too far sometimes. The man isn't blessed with superior puck handling skills. He isn't like Scottie Upshall, who is a 3rd line talent grinding on a fourth line. That's not Reaves. He's a wrecking ball.
When Reaves gets on the ice for his 45-55 second shift, he has one goal. Line up the other jerseys and hurt them. If a defenseman doesn't pay attention scooping up a puck behind his net, Reaves will get him. If a winger grabs the puck along the boards and can't skate fast enough, he will get his head rearranged by Reaves. It's simple. A lot of hits add up over the course of three periods and a series. These guys don't like the abuse from Reavo. They dread it. It isn't like Jori Lehtera giving them a dry rub for a few seconds in a corner. That's a fly on your forehead. Reaves is a hammer coming at your face. You wake up the next morning and still find his damage resting on your ligaments.
With no offense to Steve Ott, I think Reaves is better at his job. The 4th line wrecking ball cause a frenzy job. Look at the end of Game 4 in St. Louis Tuesday. Alex Pietrangelo is smoked along the boards. A scrum ensues. In the middle of it, Reaves pulls goes in for some revenge. He is pulled away by another Star, who quickly finds out fighting Reaves is like fighting The Mountain on Game of Thrones. Just a bad idea and you better have a spear. Reaves pummels him and throws him to the ice like a rag doll. Before leaving the game, Reaves blew a kiss at the Stars bench. Jamie Benn took exception to this. Here is Reaves response today, via Jeremy Rutherford.
Reaves on Benn saying he'll remember the kiss: "Did he catch it and put it in his pocket? ... I don't know why that's a big deal to him."— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 5, 2016
Ott is a pest and starts a lot of things. Reaves finishes things. I believe Reaves is better with the puck. In the Chicago series, Ott was carrying the puck up ice and let it go to attack a player. Reaves is better than that. He gets the puck, and moves it up the ice. He dumps it into the corner. He will shoot it on goal if the lane is there. That's icing on the cake. Reaves is out there to hit people, get inside the other team's head, and blow kisses after big fights.
He's the enforcer the Blues need and the fans deserve. He may not score 30 goals a season or play more than 10 minutes in a game. He is exactly what you want in a 4th line grinder with an edge. He can fight, handle the puck and leave a mark.
That's my kind of hockey player.