The Blues played their second game of the season against the New York Islanders last night at Nassau Coliseum. I saw the Blues lose in shootouts to Philadelphia at Wachovia center and Detroit at Scottrade center. Both were in November. Hopefully I can improve my shootout record to more than 1-2 this season. Although it was good to see the Blues come away with the win, I’m not the biggest fan of the shootout. I feel as if an entire game comes down to a crapshoot and since the advent of the shootout in 2005, teams do not freewheel as much in overtime, knowing that they still have a chance during the crapshoot, I mean shootout.
With the Blues playing the Rangers at MSG and the Devils at Prudential center next week, I’ll see the Blues a total of five times this year, with only one game at the unfriendly confines of Scottrade center where the Blues are 12-16-5. Having seen the Blues at United Center at least once a year for a few years and seeing them whenever they’re in Boston or NYC, I’ve grown to like the silence that falls over a crowd of 20,000 as 100 or so visiting Blues fans celebrate. That’s if the Blues actually score. I heard Terrel Owens once say in an interview that he likes the hush that falls over a stadium when he scores a touchdown on the road versus the celebration of the home stadium. At the time I thought it was an (other) arrogant comment from one of the NFL’s bad boys, but I’ve grown to like it the same way. It was nice to be one of 30-40 people cheering as the other 11,000 fans of the Islanders were silent. Can this be tied at all to the Blues’ lowly home record?
Aside from the flop in Colorado on Saturday, the Blues have stepped up their game in a big way the past month. Backes and Johnson have brought an element of competitiveness back from Vancouver that was definitely lacking prior to the Olympics. Johnson getting a fighting major the other night was great to see from our future captain.
I’m really liking the Blues latest strategy of switching out whichever player is highest in the offensive zone while the forecheckers establish possession and/or scrums along the boards. This was one of the bread and butter strategies of the Soviet teams that dominated international hockey for decades. With the icing rule with no timeout (both teams got a break on that tonight in the 3rd period btw) in play the past two seasons, the conditioning of the players has really turned the game into a young man’s game. Yes, there are the Chelios, Lidstroms, Weights, etc, but the players making headlines these days are all under age 25.
Kind of Blues
Congratulations to Blues prospect Alex Pietrangelo for earning the Hockey News’ recognition as the “Top NHL Prospect” in 2010. http://blues.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=520464. After he was drafted 4th overall in 2008 (one slot before Luke Schenn and two slots after Drew Doughty) he showed a lot of poise for a teenager in the 17 NHL games played and earned the award as the top defensemen at the World Junior tournament in Saskatchewan two months ago. Petro is a roving defenseman and like all young defensive prospects, needs to work on the defensive aspects of his game. Since he was too young to go to the AHL and was playing for Niagra of the OHL (last in the standings), he was traded to the Barrie Colts, whom are a top club vying for a deep playoff push. If Pietrangelo does not make the Blues club this September, he will be able to play for Peoria of the AHL. This has done wonders for Blues minute eater Roman Polak. Polak played a minor role for the Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics. Except for a few instances, he was not on the power play or penalty kill units. Polak’s ability to chase down opponents and keep them to the perimeter is amazing for a 23 year old whom already has a canon of a shot and an ability to grind out minutes against opposing teams top lines. A lot of this is due to the Blues’ ability to give big minutes to players in the AHL and not fast track them to the NHL. Very often media &/or fan desire can put young players under a microscope they may not be ready for. Petro was unable to play in the AHL this season because of his age whereas next season, he can spend te entire year in Peoria if needed and could still play up to nine games before burning a year on his rights towards FA.
The bars keeping the AHL from allowing 18 and 19 year olds into the league needs to be lifted. I would expect this to be addressed in the next CBA.
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Written by Patrick McLellan