NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks 2, Blues 2 (Blues win patty-cake contest 1-0)

One week later and one game that lacked an unnecessary Brent Seabrook pinch with under 30 seconds to play and it was pretty much the exact same result. A coin flip to decide the winner. No time to waste; let’s get moving.

–Save for his two shifts, Duncan Keith was below standard tonight. The Blues second goal started with a weak bank pass behind the Hawks net that was easily intercepted and sent back to the point. For good measure, Keith then put the puck into his own net just to make sure he completed the trifecta.

In related news, Keith led the Hawks in ice time by a solid three minutes. Nevermind that Niklas Hjalmarsson was by far the Hawks best defensemen tonight. Nevermind that the reason the Hawks (and Keith) were so successful last year was because they protected his ice times.

Even with the fact that the game went into overtime and Johnny Oduya playing even worse than Keith, the Hawks are deep enough defensively that they should never be relying on one guy to play close to 30 minutes. In 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, their options were garbage and they really had no choice but to play him half the game. Now, they have no excuse to be playing this excessively 7 games into the season, regardless of who the opponent is.

–Offensively, the shift distribution was even more wonky. Hossa, Sharp, Toews and Kane were all over 20 minutes which isn’t all that surprising for an overtime game. What is surprising is there are another four guys in Kruger, Nordstrom, Bollig and Pirri that are barely scratching above or below 10 minutes. That number probably needs to be cut in half. Nordstrom and Bollig are probably around the right around of ice time; Pirri and Kruger need to be out there way more. (Let’s just ignore the fact that dressing Ben Smith would give you three guys that are trustworthy for over 10 minutes a night because there’s no need for a blowtorch 7 games into the season and one where the Hawks are still 4-1-2.)

Again, tonight was just a bizarre game. The Pirri-Saad-Shaw line had an incredible start. Pirri could have easily had 3 points in his first 3 shifts. They had St. Louis pinned in their zone for the most part, save for a couple brief opportunities. It took barely 8 minutes for them to be broken up. Again, not surprisingly, this was around the time St. Louis started dictate a lot of the play.

In Quenneville’s defense, there was a lot of special teams play from the second period through the early part of the third so it should be assumed Pirri is going to draw the short end of the straw there.

–It didn’t take more than 15 complements from Foley and Edzo to Ryan Reaves for letting up on Brandon Bollig with his back turned before the Blues went back to being the Blues. Barret Jackman delivered a pretty nasty hip check to Patrick Kane with his back turned and nearly cracked his head open on the boards. Jackman got a penalty and the Hawks couldn’t do anything with the subsequent power play.

Not to be out done, Roman Polak delivered a nearly identical hit on Marcus Kruger in the third period.

By the way, who else thinks Reaves lets up there if it was one of the Hawks skill players with their back towards him? Then again, Reaves probably isn’t going to be out there when a Hawks skill player is on the ice.

  • 10thMountainFire

    -First person to posit that the Hawks need more ‘toughness’ and to pine for the ‘days of Adam Burish’ gets throat-punched.

    -Why did Q use Pirri so sparingly after the first period?

    -Corey Crawford. Wow.

    -Gaad continues to be God.

    -Hossa. Can everyone that was wringing their hands on Panda just please stop now?

    -Hammer. A couple of outstanding shot blocks. Continues to play great hockey.

    -The Blues are fast becoming the eastern Canucks. And their city is just as shitty.

    • BestPredsForward

      I’m sorry but I get offended (even though you’re probably being sarcastic) when you compare a city that looks like this:

      http://www.websitesvancouver.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/vancouver.jpg

      To a city that looks like this:
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/St_Louis_Missouri_skyline_over_arch.jpg

      The disparity in city beauty is even more clear when you realize that google imaging St. Louis you only get the arch. Unnecessary rant over.

      • 10thMountainFire

        I meant the people, not the city itself. I do find Vancouver to be beautiful from photos and personal stories friends have relayed to me.

        I apologize to the buildings and terrain/land in Vancouver.

        But the people are still encouraged to go get fucked. But that might be because I have a ‘screw loose’.

        • Accipiter

          Not all the people, just the Canucks fans.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            And possibly the Team Canadia fans

          • High and Wide

            Hey, we’re only burning those hideous fucking Olympic jerseys

          • 10thMountainFire

            Just the anarchists. Who are not from Vancouver.

          • Waylon

            and those nasty anarchists from Oregon.

      • skip182

        Lol, isn’t that photo of St. Louis from like the late 80s? It’s the old ballpark and the football stadium, whatever it’s called, isn’t there.

  • adelfiacco

    Barrett “Missing Evolutionary Link” Jackman’s inevitable induction into the Blues ring of honor or whatever the hell they call it will truly be the Most Blues Moment of All Time.

    • skip182

      Hey now, a lot of us aren’t big fans. The only thing he’s got going for him is that he’s currently the longest tenured athlete in St. Louis. Not just hockey, but all sports. This feels…wrong…

  • the shocker

    Now now, Vancouver is a beautiful city. It just happens to be populated with the mutated offspring of Bob & Doug McKenzie.

  • mad-hatter

    In his post-game comments, Q was complaining about the disappointing offense so far, and said he hates coaching that side of the game. And really, no fucking shit after seeing the weird combinations he’s rolled out over the years and the continuously failing PP. But isn’t that what the assistant coaches are supposed to do, fill in where he may be out of his element? Or is Q so reluctant to even let go of any minor control?

    .

    • 10thMountainFire

      Fuck if I know. Smith and Pirri both score in their first few shifts and then he mysteriously (or not-so mysteriously) pulls them back.

      Unrelated but I’m still going to point it out: Morin scored on his first shift after call-up in Scum Town last season and he didn’t get a fair shot this camp, either.

      That’s fuckin genius, Q.

      • mad-hatter

        Q’s management has been shoddy so far, regardless of who’s dressed really. Obviously FF touched on it above, as did Fels on twitter. Maybe he’s just not handling the change in personnel from last season all that well. They’re not as fast, but things should pick up once the season rolls into November and players get back into form.

        • 10thMountainFire

          It’s difficult to have an open mind with Q when he so blatantly dismissed certain possibilities even in the wake of the Cup… to include the ‘Saad to center’ stupidity in response to Stan’s comments about Pirri as a legitimate 2C.

          • mad-hatter

            And you know this shit about Pirri not being a legitimate 2C because of defensive liability is starting to tick me off, as if his mere presence on the ice would cause a total meltdown. If he were so bad at defense at the NHL level that he would be a risk every time he took a shift, he just wouldn’t have made it this far at the pro-level.

          • lizmcneill

            He hasn’t been bad at all defensively in the 20 minutes or so he’s been allowed to skate. And you have 3 defensively responsible centers in Toews, Kruger and Zus, so you can afford to shelter Pirri if he needs it, as long as you aren’t doing some bull like playing him and Shaw at center simultaneously.

          • Black JEM

            Isn’t Pirri pretty good at the dot?
            Hell, getting puck possession off the draw instead of having to chase down and steal it back most of the time is its own defensive advantage.
            Q is back to baffling me. Last year, with everything compressed he could just let it go – it was a sprint with little time for thinking. Once again, he is constantly fighting himself and playing mad scientist.
            Bollig skating every game is a joke – there are always better players watching from the press box or playing somewhere else in the organization. Handzus is just slow – spot start him where it makes sense. And I know we love Frogger – but I need to see more from him this year – either at winning faceoffs or improving his O game.
            We should be playing lots of the strong kids now and saving the vets like Handzus for the push when their savvy and veteran know how are most useful.

          • lizmcneill

            Word was that he was bad in the A….any Hogs experts in the house?

          • 10thMountainFire

            I also remember him being termed ‘marginal’ on draws.

          • Black JEM

            I heard someone say he was above 50% – but who knows I guess.

          • Paul the Fossil

            Some quick searching has not turned up any AHL individual faceoff stats, so unless somebody else has better luck we do seem to be stuck with guesses.

            I did learn that Pirri actually won the AHL’s scoring title for last season though, took home a league trophy for it.

          • Z-man19

            I don’t think the AHL keeps FO stats

          • Bullitt315

            If you want to rest Zus and play him 60-70% so he’s good for the playoffs, maybe I can get on board (Hossa needs more rest than Zus based on history). But if you want to spot start a .5 ppg player since he came to the team (and .4ppg career) because he’s slow, that just doesn’t make sense.

          • 10thMountainFire

            It’s another shot at someone that barely had time on NHL ice before there was almost an entire industry of people who sought to explain-away why Pirri didn’t belong on the roster.

            Morin is another.

    • 10thMountainFire

      Also…

      Sharp and Shaw. Right.

    • High and Wide

      FWIW, in case this hadn’t already crossed your desk today:
      Mark Lazerus ‏@MarkLazerus 1h
      Q explained his “I don’t like coaching offense” comment by saying he wants his players to have creative freedom; tougher to defend that way.

      • lizmcneill

        Which does make sense given the talent on the roster. You don’t want to be telling Kaner he has to dump and chase or whatever.

      • 10thMountainFire

        He wouldn’t have to ‘coach offense’ so much if he would dress players that can produce offensively… and then stop juggling the lines.

      • mad-hatter

        He could better allow creative freedom offensively if he had those type of players in those situations.

        • High and Wide

          Oh yeah, agreed with all of you there. The comment is interesting precisely because it points out a strange failure to connect the right dots.

          • mad-hatter

            Connect the rights dots. That really sums it up.

  • DesertHawk

    Maybe Q is the one who suffers from Cup Hangover?

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Thanks for the write up, FF. Out of the country with no hockey on TV, and even the feeds start at 1 AM. Good news I guess is that we didn’t blow this one in the third, And the blues are wasting no time staking their claim to be the New Arch Rival.

    No shame in starting 4-1-2 except in having lost twice to the team you need to beat to win the division.

    I take it this game was similar to the first game in St Louis: Blues were the Blues and we made just enough mistakes to let them think they won, instead of facing the reality that we lost.

    Loving the vacation, miss the hockey.

    • VanDorp’sMullet

      The game was a shitshow. No real flow to it. Very sloppy. No one seemed to want to be there. Just one of those “meh” games that happens from time to time. But I’m not worried about it yet. If the Blues want to think that their great start means something, that’s fine. But better to peak at the end of the season than at the beginning.

    • High and Wide

      VanDorp’sMullet is right, and it was much less entertaining than the other Blues game. I actually wandered off and cleaned my toilet at one point.
      I’m sure there’s a Blues joke here that I’m not sharp enough to execute.

  • MattC86

    The good thus far this season:

    - Corey Crawford has been really solid. Nothing soft, and lots of great saves, though his rebound control still gives my stomach fits (always his real problem, along with occasional softies, rather than some “glove side issue”). He’s also gotten better from the first two games on to put together a string of really strong performances.

    - Saad is a beast.

    The rest of it is all “meh,” and I wouldn’t be concerned about any of it – except for Q’s attitude towards the season thus far.

    • MattC86

      Here’s what I mean:

      This is a veteran bunch now, and I think if you look at a lot of veteran Cup-winning teams, it takes a long time for them to get the wheels going again (and none of them had the compressed offseason the Hawks did this year). The Avs were terrible early in 2002 – except for Roy, who was a real MVP that year; the Wings sucked early in 03 and again in 08-09 (remember Babcock saying how Hossa was the guy who kept them in it single-handedly in October and November); the Bruins were awful through November 2011, then went on a tear. This is a pretty regular occurrence, and the Hawks will get it going, I’m not worried about it. But what I am worried about is Q running hard minutes on vets and not playing younger guys.

      Pirri, Morin, Smith, Kostka, – even guys who were on the team last year like Leddy, Kruger, Shaw, and Saad who still have lots to prove – are the ones who are going to provide the energy and fire to keep the team going while the vets get it together.

      Yeah, ok, maybe Sharp and Crawford are being driven by the
      Olympic dream, but the rest of the vets – who are all locks – aren’t.

      I think Q has fallen in with all the lines from the players and organization about “we can’t stink like we did in 2011, we have to come out on fire all year,” and it’s bullshit.

      The team sucked in 2011 because Marty Turco’s stinking corpse was the starting goalie.

      They sucked because John Scott (who also got to dabble as a top-6 defenseman), Fernando Pisani, and the rest of the Hot Garbage Collection (hello, Jake Dowell and Jack Skille!) were the bottom 6.

      Jassen Cullimore, Nick Boynton, Jordan Hendry, and a 12-year-old Nick Leddy with no professional experience were all regularly in the D line-up. That’s why they were terrible, more than Kane having drank too much, or Keith not giving a shit til February.

      This is not that team – if the Hawks went into November because they were giving the Bolligs, Morins, Pirris, and Smiths 15 minutes a night against non-sheltered competition and we were losing a few games, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. This division is not that good. The Hawks won’t be fighting for their playoff lives if they are average for a month – and let’s not forget that once the team collectively turns it on, they’re fucking loaded. Give guys rest, play a Smith-Kruger-Shaw line against somebody’s top line for a night (my one playoff worry about this team is that there is no shutdown line; both the 2010 and 2013 teams either had one or developed one, as the Kruger/Bolland/Frolik one became). Let Morin and Pirri and Smith find their way as full-time NHLers. Let Leddy play with Seabrook for a night to see if that can work, or let Leddy build chemistry with Kostka over a few games.

      I worry that as an organization they’re clenched so tight about not having a shit start – from McDonagh to Bowman to Q to Captain Serious and all the players – that they aren’t willing to let some things work themselves out for the first two months while keeping some of the veteran powder dry for the spring. It’s just a big fucking mistake.

      • nextgame

        Right on the money.
        I think the biggest problem is Q.
        He simply will not allow young players to work through their mistakes. One blunder and it’s <10 min. ice time or a view from the press box.
        Unless and until that changes I'm afraid some of our vets will be tripping over their tongues come March & April.

    • 10thMountainFire

      I love me some Saad. That guy has been as consistent and impactful as anyone on the roster.

    • lizmcneill

      who is downboating random comments?

      • 10thMountainFire

        Al-Qaeda.

        • 1benmenno

          The more I hear about this Al guy the more I don’t care for him.

          • Z-man19

            it’s weird isn’t it, most of the Al’s I know are pretty decent fellas

          • Accipiter

            You can call me Al.

          • Z-man19

            Alice?

          • Accipiter

            Don’t follow me down the rabbit hole.

          • 1benmenno

            I’ve never met an Al I didn’t like–until Qaeda showed up.

  • MattC86

    Getting way ahead of ourselves here, but question for the community:

    I say by playoff time, Smith and Kruger are two parts of a shutdown line. Who’s the third? In the organization now? Deadline acquisition?

    Part of me wonders if it’s Handzus, but I don’t think he has the wheels for it. Which could make things really interesting for where he slots in if Pirri or Leblaw or somebody makes it as 2C. . .

    • lizmcneill

      Saad or Bicks?

    • rhodes

      It’s always hard to predict what Q is going to do with line combinations, but I’m going to guess you will eventually see a lot of Bickel on the 3rd line. Bickel hasn’t provided much on the 1st line so far, and unless he somehow fits into the 2nd in some combination (can Bickel play center!), he’s going to move back where he’s comfy.

      On the other hand when Saad has been moved up with Toews and Kane, that line has looked downright devastating. It’s got to be hard for Q not to throw that line combination out there more.

  • goodgamegoodteams

    The Jackman hit was bad. It was made worse by Kane turning toward the boards. The Polak hit could have been much worse if he didn’t ease up when another hawk turned his back to the oncoming checker. No excuses being made, the onus is on the person doing the hitting to avoid injuring the player being hit as much as possible. I think both hits deserved penalties and both resulted in penalties being called. It is just childish to speculate that Reaves would have laid a dirty hit had it been against someone else.

    It was a good, intense game. No need to whine.

    • DesertHawk

      Found the Blues fan.

  • cliffkoroll

    Hawks have been the better team every game this year, tho last night was close.

    Everyone’s gunning for the Champs.

    When you win the Cup, October comes up quick, and it feels like the start of a 6-month pre-season.

    Hjammer made several not so good plays last night.

    Crow has been good, but at this point, the apologists have chased the haterz from the field and are winning the annoyingness battle by a large margin.

    After seeing the twats twice, I’m confident the Hawks won’t need more than 6 games against these guys in the playoffs. Meanwhile, they’re prolly parading around in St. Shithole right now- good for them.

    Despite it all – lousy third periods and blown leads – the Hawks are on track to notch 117 points this year. So, maybe this is a good time for all of us to take a ‘are you a spoiled fan?’ litmus test.

    • Black JEM

      Some good points – I realize we have only lost one game in regulation. As I noted below – Bollig is being used way too much and I would love to save Handzus more for near the playoffs. I would like to see if these kids we are all excited about are good enough so that Q can feel comfortable resting Hossa occasionally.

    • 10thMountainFire

      I thought Hammer looked good.

      Keith and Oduya… not so much.

    • laaarmer

      117
      I like that number

      • Accipiter

        Is it a stat ?

        • laaarmer

          It could be significant

    • Why

      Mostly agree but does anyone have a problem with the way Crow played last night?

      • 10thMountainFire

        Because he’s a hater.

        • cliffkoroll

          Evidence?

    • Z-man19

      very solid points cliff

      • 10thMountainFire

        Disagree.

        I didn’t think Hammer had ‘several not so good plays’ and I’m wondering why he’s calling those of us that got tired of the stupid, meatballish anti-Crow shit ‘annoying’.

        • Z-man19

          I think there’s enough good there to gloss over some points I don’t fully agree with. Overall, good food for thought

          • 10thMountainFire

            He’s also clearly ‘annoyed’ with those of us that chased off the Crow haters. I guess having an opinion different from some is ‘annoying’.

          • Z-man19

            I think he’s just saying that we shouldn’t dismiss all criticism of Crow as Crow hating. Crow may actually deserve some criticism. I don’t like the folks who want to bring up the contract along with their critiques, a little early for that.

          • 10thMountainFire

            He was saying that those of us that were debating the Crow haters were ‘annoying’. He said it right in his post.

          • cliffkoroll

            If I may…

            You didn’t chase off the haterz, Crow did, with his performance in the playoffs.

            I’m not a Crow hater- never have been. If you disagree, feel free to dig something up, I don’t hide my light under a bushel basket.

            Crow has been good. Lots of players have been good. But there is a contingent that feels compelled to rush in after every game and ‘defend’ Crow against the haterz that are long gone. It’s annoying- y’all are pushing against an open door.

            As far as Hjammer, rewatch the game. I know what I saw, but once a meme gets a head of steam around here (isn’t Hjammer great?) it’s tough to derail it.

            Don’t get me wrong. I love Hjammer, and he is having a great year. Not so much last night.

          • DesertHawk

            I’m sorry it’s annoying to you. I’m probably not going to stop singing Crow’s praises anytime soon. He’s my favorite and for a long time I was the only one here or SCH who had any faith in him.

          • cliffkoroll

            Don’t apologize- I’m sure I annoy my share. There are far worse things in life than reading annoying stuff.

            Like bashing womyn, you sexist jerk.

          • laaarmer

            Or we can just call it a STRAWMAN.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Did you really just down-boat me?

            Laaarms, come here and hug this out.

  • SuperHawk27

    What was the point of Bollig playing over Smith last night? Isn’t Bollig supposed to deter the Blues’ ass plugs from running our stars? How well did that work out last night….

    • lizmcneill

      And he didn’t save Frogger’s head either, even though he’s on Frogger’s line.

      • rhodes

        I sometimes wonder if other teams aren’t running guys on Bollig’s line purposely to try to draw a reaction and 2:00 instigator out of Bollig. In other words, Bollig, as a walking-talking PP opportunity, is more an enabler than a deterrent.

        • lizmcneill

          It’s Frogger and Nordy, they are skating hit-magnets anyways.

        • SuperHawk27

          Carcillo 2.0…with less skill

    • 10thMountainFire

      I don’t even know how this is still a debate at this point.

      • SuperHawk27

        Me either…i just want him dressed in a suit. They pumped up all the young guys in the preseason….and then sit them. Just venting.

  • zacked

    I just want to say that I’m a big fan of Hossa’s “FUCK DEKES” approach to breakaways and shootouts.

    On the negative side, and I’m the farthest from a meathead you can get, the PP is just playing so soft. Lazy passes they would never try 5v5, no effort to close down contested pucks, no sense of urgency, barely any movement. You can’t play like that and expect to be successful, even with an extra guy. I don’t even care if they score or not, just play like you normally do!

    • 1benmenno

      Oddly, they seem to be more successful when pulling the goalie for an extra man; at least, that’s what it looked like last season.

  • 334Rules

    Yes it’s been said. But #2 was absolutely dogshit last night in every aspect of his game.

    • DesertHawk

      He got one through without hitting any shinpads.

  • laaarmer

    Last night, I was at my younger sons practice, so I was missing the game. I get a text, and all it said was “Pirri”. It was from my other son, but dammit I thought it was XMF at first.

    Congrats to the Pirri

    • 10thMountainFire

      I wanted to congratulate him but they threw me out of the bar for hugging the TV.

      • laaarmer

        Here is the picture I have in my mind of you in the bar last night

        “I want my cigarettes”

        • 10thMountainFire

          Maybe you didn’t hear about it, you’ve been away a long time. They didn’t go up there and tell you. I don’t shine shoes anymore.

          • 1benmenno

            Relax. What’s got into you? I’m breaking your balls a little, that’s all.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Sometimes you don’t sound like you’re kidding, you know? There’s a lotta people around.

          • 1benmenno

            I’m only kidding with you, we’re having a party, I just came home and I haven’t seen you in a long time and I’m breaking your balls, and you’re getting fucking fresh. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.

          • 1benmenno

            [takes a drink] Now go home and get your fuckin’ shinebox.

        • cliffkoroll

          I bet a nickel.

          • 10thMountainFire

            You lost a dollar.

  • Paul the Fossil

    I’m not often one to whine about officiating, but nothing about the call on Toews which resulted in the Blues’ powerplay goal? That was no more of a hook than I am a ballerina. Tazer look completely mystified as he headed to the box and it was hard to blame him.

    • zacked

      Tazer look completely mystified as he headed to the box and it was hard to blame him.

      I agree that it was a real soft penalty, but you can’t judge by the player’s face. Every single player in the league (hell, in all leagues) is friggin’ McNulty: What the fuck did I do?

      • Why

        It’s the part that comes after “and” that I’m on board with.

  • 1benmenno

    From MMD via CtA: “Pat & Edzo were delighted that Ryan Reaves chose not to smash Brandon Bollig into the boards from behind. Guess I know where the Lady Byng is going this year.”

    • Jim A

      Another good reason why I don’t read CtA. One of the Blues doesn’t take a cheap shot when he could have? That’s a big story. On a team with Jackman, Polak, Backes, LaPierre and the rest of them, there was one guy who did it right.

      • 1benmenno

        The writer in question is noted for his well honed sense of irony, and one of the reasons why I do read CtA.

  • justforkicks

    also, seeing kane+nordstrom out in OT was really unexpected