The Blues’ first period under new coach Ken Hitchcock was as solid of a puck possession period as they’ve played all year. They actually look like a unit out there, rather than six guys who know what they should be doing, but just can’t pull it off. Aside from a bit of a slip-up by Ian Cole at the blue line, their zone possession’s been good, their defense has been solid and they’ve limited shots on Jaroslav Halak to just eight. The upshot with that is that they were all shots Halak could clearly see, mostly from farther out so he could set in position in enough time to handle it.
The lone goal came at 8:15 of the first period from Vladimir Sobotka, who snagged a brilliant up-ice pass from Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk undressed Blackhawks defenseman John Scott, whose slow reaction time allowed him to get the pass to Sobotka. Sobotka charged the net, got control of the puck and banked it in past Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford for the first goal of the game.
Ryan Reaves and Daniel Carcillo also got into a scrap, with Carcillo taking exception to a hit that Reaves put on Patrick Kane. It was a brief tilt, with Reaves, who has taken boxing lessons over the summer (presumably from Evander Kane) stunned Carcillo with a right that left the Blackhawk flailing his arms, apparently calling for the linesmen to come over and break the fight up.
Lots of hitting, lots of defensive responsibility, and lots of control are the words du jour for this game so far. Here’s hoping it keeps up.