The Blues have lost but one game at home, which was the home opener against the Nashville Predators. Since then, they’ve been rolling happily along, ending this five game homestand with a 4-0-1 record, good for nine out of a possible ten points. Coach Ken Hitchcock has lit a fire under this team, who is playing the kind of physical and tenacious hockey that fans have expected to see all year. They haven’t let an opponent score past the first period in their last five games, which is a welcome change from the team’s inability to play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey. This team plays hard for the full hour, and you get the feeling that they’d play hard for longer than that if they could.
David Backes netted two goals tonight, one in the first period and an on one knee empty netter from St. Louis’ own zone that was locked on Florida’s net. Chris Porter and Kris Russell also scored, while Vladimir Sobotka and T.J. Oshie narrowly missed chances on Jose Theodore. Oshie and Sobotka were like two pinballs on the ice tonight, and I honestly think that Florida’s defense had issues containing them.
Unfortunately, the Blues penalty kill had to work overtime again to kill off a major penalty – the second in as many games. Scott Nichol got called at 19:44 of the first period for a spear on Tomas Kopecky. Regardless of whether or not the call was legitimate, the fact that the Blues have been undisciplined enough to put themselves in the remote vicinity of having to kill a major is concerning. The penalty kill is improving by leaps and bounds – it was perfect again tonight – but it’s still not foolproof. A five minute kill is next to impossible at times to get through. St. Louis was masterful at getting through this one, but they need to try to not have another any time soon.
The Blues are off to Minnesota to take on the Wild Saturday at 7:00 before returning to Scottrade Tuesday to take on the Los Angeles Kings at 6:30.