Will There Be Changes?
Ken Hitchcock recently said, who you are at the end of the year is who you are in the playoffs. That trend stayed the course as the Blues gave up a third period lead only to lose in double overtime.
Late in the season the Blues gave up leads late in games while the Sharks were coming from behind to win.
The Blues did a lot of good things they can carry into game 2. I’ve always felt the second game is when a playoff series truly begins. The first game allows you to get a feel for who you’re up against and the matchup’s you want moving forward.
Coming into the series you could argue winning the first game was more important for St. Louis than San Jose. From a mental standpoint the Blues would probably benefit more by winning the first game. There will be a sense of panic amongst fans before the Blues have an opportunity to even up the series Saturday night. How they handle this bit of adversity heading into game two is key to getting back on track.
Entering the series the Sharks would have been thrilled with splitting the first two games but you know they want nothing more than to head back to California up 2-0.
Speaking to San Jose players they expected more emotion from the Blues early in the game. It took a while for St. Louis to establish this area which came alive in the third period.
A bad offensive zone penalty by David Perron gave San Jose a second period power play. The Blues generated some zone time and had the momentum just before Perron two-handed Sharks D-man Brent Burns.
Martin Havlat would get a stick on a Dan Boyle wrist shot just seconds later.
Berglund Comes alive…
The Blues responded in the third period with two goals scored by Patrik Berglund.
Berglund’s second was a result of a beautiful feed from Andy McDonald who spotted Berglund on the rush. Berglund made a nice move to cut into the middle of the ice before sliding the puck between the pads of Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi.
The game quickly tilted into the Blues favor.
It didn’t last long.
A goal by San Jose’s fourth line tied the score with just over 5:00 remaining in the third period. Sharks forward Tommy Wingels slid through Blues D-man Roman Polak along the wall before spotting Andrew Desjardins in front of the net. Perron failed to stay with Desjardins who was able to sneak a shot through the pads of Jaroslav Halak.
Halak looked a little uncomfortable in the third period after being tripped up behind the net by Martin Havlat. It was clear Halak was hurting as he continued to flex his left leg. He visited a short time with the Blues trainer during a late third period television timeout but remained in the game.
The Blues controlled the play in the first overtime outshooting San Jose 14-8.
Head Coach Todd McLellan thought is club had a strong push in the first five minutes of overtime before being outplayed.
The Blues won 15 face offs in the first overtime including several in the offensive end.
It took just 3:34 into the second overtime as Havlat sent a knuckleball past Halak to score his second goal if the game.
Once again the play could have been prevented as a failed clearing attempt by Shattenkirk led to the Sharks hemming the Blues in. Chris Stewart, who had a couple of scoring chances in the game, played the body instead of the puck before Ryane Clowe spotted Havlat.
It’s hard to get the players you want on the ice especially in overtime and this isn’t the matchup Hitchcock was looking for.
Give San Jose credit for creating a turnover after having no sustained forecheck for almost the entire overtime.
Will there be changes?
There’s a chance we see Brian Elliott in game two. Considering Hichcock says he’s 100% I would think we might see a change. I’m not suggesting Halak played poorly but this goes along with the way the goalie rotation has played out all season.
Huskins to stay with Petro?
Kent Huskins is a good stabilizing presence with playoff experience but I’ve said it over and over. He’s not the partner for Alex Pietrangelo. His lack of foot speed and the inability to escape pressure gets him in trouble. We saw him take a hooking penalty after being stripped from behind. He’s best served in a role where he doesn’t have to go up against the other teams best players. Huskins loves the boards and there’s nothing wrong with that, unless the player the Blues have touted as a Norris trophy candidate is open on the other side.
I thought Pietrangelo had some moments in the game including a great scoring chance in the second period but overall it was a quiet game for him.
Berglund’s line shines….
I thought Berglund, Steen, and McDonald were the Blues most dangerous players offensively for St. Louis. Besides scoring twice they created the most chances and had plenty of zone time.
Steen hit the post with a short handed rocket in the second period.
Backes, Oshie, and Perron held the Thornton line in check all night as well. Patrick Marleau was pretty much invisible for San Jose all night.
Ryan Reaves did not see the ice after the third period.
The Blues had the edge in hits, face offs, and blocked shots. They also missed the net 17 times including five in the first overtime.
Off to the rink…I’ll have more later
More to come,
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