Tuesday's Loss Provide Blues Wakeup Call?
Did Tuesday’s loss in Chicago serve as a wakeup call for the St. Louis Blues? I'm not suggesting they needed it but it's never a bad thing to come back down to earth.
Obviously you liked the way St. Louis finished the game but the start was a struggle.
The decision making from the back end, especially from the red line in, was uncharacteristic of this team. A number of things contributed to Brian Elliott facing one odd man rush after another including a three-on-oh break that led to a Patrick Kane goal.
Part of the Blues issues can be attributed to the opponent. Chicago’s forwards feed off of turnovers and they transition from defense to offense as well as any team in the NHL. It’s common to see two forwards blow the zone once they possess the puck.
The Blues appeared too puck focused and when that happens it leads to breakdowns. Chicago is one of the few clubs who love to run and gun and they were on display early in Tuesday’s game. Whether it was failing to get pucks behind Chicago’s defense, getting caught flat footed, or simply being unaware, Madison Street turned into Breakdown street rather quickly.
Assistant coach Brad Shaw, widely considered among the best in the league, says the defense stayed on offense too long and assumed they were going to win every puck battle. He says the weak side D-man needs to do a better job of keeping the play in front of him.
Offensively you want to play on your toes but that can sometimes present problems defensively.
The Siberyak has certainly gotten the attention of people all around the league including his veteran linemates. His awareness all over the ice, not just in the offensive end, has impressed Andy McDonald. He’s able to play a quick give-and-go game which has helped Vladimir Tarasenko settle in with Alex Steen and McDonald so well.
If you watch Steen and McDonald play you’ll notice everything they do is done with pace. They have the patience to settle things down when necessary but you better get your rest if you want to play with these two.
Tarasenko is a lot like D-man Kevin Shattenkirk in terms of both of these guys being sneaky strong. They may not enter a scrum looking to run the opponent through the wall but more often than not they come out with the puck. There’s something to be said for players like this.
Tarasenko plays stronger than he looks and being able to play through contact gives him an advantage.
I’ve been asked several times who Tarasenko reminds me of. To be honest he’s a unique talent and you don’t always need a comparison. For some reason I do think of him as a bigger version of Mark Recchi. You may disagree but that’s what I’ve come up with so far. He’s a little quicker than I anticipated and his ability to find the pace to move up and down the ice with Steen and McDonald is impressive.
Wade-ing for this….
Hard to believe a veteran like Wade Redden would be nervous heading into an NHL game but I’d imagine he’ll have some butterflies swirling around 7:00 tonight.
As we anticipated Redden will play with Alex Pietrangelo and should see some special teams as well. There’s a chance he even lands on the PP for a bit.
Whoever plays with Pietrangelo needs to take as much pressure off of his game as possible. The last thing you want is Petro playing hard minutes or over extending himself. You don’t need Pietrangelo covering up for mistakes and considering how much this guy plays, it’s important his partner makes life as easy as possible for #27.
Center Paul Gaustad will miss one more game before returning from a shoulder injury he injured in the season opener.
Promising youngster Craig Smith will slide over and play in the middle. Smith has gotten off to slow start and Predators head Coach Barry Trotz said this is something new to the University of Wisconsin product. It’s up to him to play through it.
I asked Trotz if the Blues depth presents matchup problems for him and he acknowledged it isn’t easy. He says he has an idea of who the Blues top line is and that’s who they will focus on shutting down.
The Alex Steen line presented problems for the Preds last Monday.
I’m told the Predators will average 3.1 games per week this season which isn’t much different than the 3.2 they would have averaged after January 1st with the original 82-game schedule.
Former NHL D-man Stu Grimson serves as Nashville’s radio color commentator. He recently received his law degree after commuting to the University of Memphis for two years. Grimson is the Predators Director of Alumni as well.
More to come,
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