Take that last two Stanley Cup champions! One night after handing Chicago a 4-2 defeat, the Blues shut down Pittsburgh in a thrilling 1-0 overtime win. If these two victories can’t elevate the team’s already high confidence level, then there’s really nothing that will be able to do just that. With only one regulation loss in the first seven games, the Blues are identifying themselves as an incredibly difficult and challenging team to face. Just listen to what some of the other NHL personnel are saying about the Blues. Sidney Crosby, Joel Quenneville, Barry Trotz, and the list goes on. The bottom line, the Blues will not be surprising their opponents much longer. This team is considered dangerous one month into the season.
In the 1-0 victory over the Penguins, several elements happened which are worth noting. So without further adieu, here are your BLUENOTES:
*Erik Johnson. The number one overall pick in the 2006 draft is becoming what everybody hoped and expected. His goal 50 seconds into overtime last night showed a glimpse of his natural ability and instincts. Moments before he beat Brent Johnson five-hole for the game winner, EJ performed some impressive puck handling and skating manuevers in Pittsburgh’s zone to keep the pressure alive. He would eventually circle back, call for the puck and bury the winner. Johnson is gaining confidence with every shift and there is no reason why he can not begin to take games over with his presence. Defensively, he has been extremely solid so far this season. The offensive side to his game is an area where he can shine the most. He has a cannon of a shot and displays great vision for dishing the puck off. Look for Johnson to have his breakout season on both sides of the ice.
*Jaroslav Halak. Maybe this is why the Blues went out and traded for last year’s playoff hero in Montreal. Halak was a rock against the Penguins. He stopped 31 shots for his first shutout of the season. Most of those shots were high quality. There is no question he must be in the heads of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company by now. Halak single-handedly kept the Blues in the game in the second period. Pittsburgh came out and took over the game in that period. But Halak stood tall and did what great goalies do. He preserved the tie until the Blues found their legs. No doubt this is a game the Blues lose last season. What a difference a goalie can make.
*Alex Pietrangelo. Shockingly, the rookie led all Blues skaters in total time on the ice with 23:12. I say shockingly since that prize normally goes to Eric Brewer or Barret Jackman. Obviously Head Coach Davis Payne is confident in Pietrangelo’s ability. Why shouldn’t he be? Pietrangelo so far has been terrific. His reading of plays and composure in his own zone shows he has matured and is more than ready to eventually take over as an elite defenseman. As he continues to improve with more ice time and experience, the blueline in St. Louis should establish themselves as one of the best in the league.
Now the team must realize the past two wins over Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the books. They are history. Next up is Nashville, the only team in the league that has yet to lose in regulation. Let’s see if the Bluenote can make a lasting impression in Music City.
About the Author
Written by Dave Frederick
Dave has spent more than 20 years covering the NHL for a variety of different media outlets. Most notably ESPN, Fox Sports and the National Hockey League.