Big Boy Hockey
The NHL playoffs are all about the unexpected where unusual suspects deliver in dramatic moments. This is the time of the year where you create not only your reputation but your legacy as a player.
Every player wants that moment that lives on even after their playing days are over.
Barrett Jackman had his in the Blues 2-1 victory that puts them up 2-0 on the LA Kings.
Thanks to a number of whistles the game lacked flow early. The Blues were called for a number of first period penalties that momentarily took away any home ice advantage. It’s hard to get into the matchup game you want and feed of your fans when you’re killing penalties and the game is disrupted.
Jackman was responsible for one of those penalties, an interference call for taking down Drew Doughty after the whistle. Just before that, Jackman purposely jostled with Dustin Brown as the Kings Captain tried to skate up ice and exit the Blues zone. The referees were closely watching Jackman and he invited them to make the call after taking down Doughty.
The Kings took the lead just seconds later when Mike Richards scored with the Blues two men down. The Blues were already down a man when Jackman was penalized.
After the game Jackman acknowledged he and his teammates needed to do a better job of controlling their emotions. They let it slip for a period of time and it cost them. He would make up for it later.
The Kings made the same mistake later in the game with Jordan Nolan called for slashing Adam Cracknell as the two lined up for a face off. Nolan was escorted to the box before the puck even dropped.
Both teams got it out of their system as did the referees who didn’t call another penalty after the 12:22 mark of the second period.
Hide the women and children…
This is truly one of the more physical series I’ve ever seen. There’s literally contact all over the ice and hardly do you see a player touch the puck without being hit. This is big boy hockey to the highest degree and neither club is showing signs of letting up anytime soon. Both teams combined for 76 hits.
David Perron, a recent lightning rod for fans and media, played one of his best games in weeks. He played hard and touched the puck on Thursday more than he had in probably the last ten games. This guy can be such an effective player when shows the level of intensity he displayed n Game 2. His willingness to compete opens up his ability to make plays and you can slowly start to see him find his confidence. Perron told me after the game he loves playing with T.J. Oshie as he feels no other player on the roster compliments his game better. Oshie make quick puck decisions and can play a short area game that creates space for the two of them.
Perron has a feud going with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The two have met face to face a few times this series and word is Quick yells at Perron every time he skates near his crease.
Going back to the regular season Brian Elliott has allowed just one goal against in eight of his last nine starts. There was some concern he suffered an injury after Brown crashed hard into his net in the third period. Elliott appeared fine after the game and several of his teammates told me it was a smart veteran move on his part to buy time. Many of the Blues players felt Brown intended to run their goaltender and were less than pleased. For a moment this had Nick Kypreos written all over it from when he took out Grant Fuhr in 1996.
Jonathan Quick left warm-ups after it appeared he took a shot to the man area. He showed no effects during the game.
Several Blues players after the game told me they had no idea he even suffered an injury and left warm-ups early.
T.J Oshie put it best when he said people don’t see what this guy does behind the scenes in the dressing room and just how important he is to the Blues hockey club. He’s been with the organization for a long time and has had his share of ups and downs. All Jackman did was stick to the game plan and funnel the puck towards the net knowing he had Stewart and McDonald driving hard. The Blues have struggled a bit with their D-men finding the net so the timing obviously was good. This was Jackman’s first career playoff goal in 22 games.
The play Vladimir Sobotka made in the neutral zone needs to be pointed out. We talked before the series how guys have to be willing to take a hit to make a play. Sobotka paid a pretty good price in order to move the puck to Chris Stewart who eventually fed Jackman. If you watch the replay you’ll see Jackman was all over the ice his entire shift.
Blues Hold Serve…
The Blues accomplished exactly what they set out to do in taking both games at home. They played a better game in the opener than they did on Thursday but most importantly are up 2-0. LA had a big push early on Thursday but St. Louis was able to contain the Kings and wait for their chance. The Blues don’t want to exchange rush attempts with Los Angeles and you could sense the game turning in their favor in the third period.
In your Face…
The Blues controlled the face off dot for the second straight game winning 55% of the draws. David Backes owned Anze Kopitar for the most part going 61% on the night.
Andy McDonald is 12-4 combined on face offs in the first two games.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter took in the game as did Hall of famer Brett Hull who watched from the owner’s box with former Olympic teammate Keith Tkachuk.
More to come,
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