One night after skating into Boston and defeating a very good Bruins team, the Blues waltzed in to Madison Square Garden and shut down the New York Rangers 2-0. Back to back road wins, and this shutout came with Jaroslav Halak enjoying the sights from the bench.
Ty Conklin made 27 saves in just his 2nd game of the season. The Blues once again played a spectacular team game and as a result, won their 7th straight contest and now lead the NHL with 20 points (9-1-2). Let me say that again only a bit louder, THE BLUES LEAD THE LEAGUE WITH 20 POINTS!
Now let’s focus on some key BLUEnotes:
*Alex Steen: He led all skaters with 7 shots on goal and netted two in 18:07 total time on the ice. Steen is becoming a complete package. Defensively responsible, gifted offensively, effective penalty killer and a power play target.
*David Backes: A notorious slow starter, Backes is showing signs of coming alive. He was a physical force against Boston the previous night and backed it up again with another physically dominating performance. Backes registered 6 hits, 3 shots on goal, and won 11 out of 12 faceoffs in 20:24 time on the ice. Speaking of faceoffs, the Blues are improving dramatically in this area. They won 38 out of 54 draws against the Rangers. Head Coach Davis Payne preaches puck possession. Winning faceoffs is the first step in order for that philosophy to be successful.
*Nikita Nikitin: Wow. Just another very solid job by Nikitin. He logged 17:41 worth of ice time and once again showed great poise. He makes the game look easy and employs confident decision-making skills. The Blues have a nice problem on their hands with the depth among defensemen. Nikitin will be difficult to send back to Peoria once the injured defensemen are cleared to play. It is also worth noting, Tyson Strachan, Nathan Oystrick and Ian Cole have also done a marvelous job with their ice time.
It’s now off to Columbus for Wednesday night’s matchup. 20 points in the first 12 games is clearly a better start than anybody could have imagined. As a result, please kiss your Bluenote before you go to sleep.
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.