There’s a time and a place to score, and there’s a time and a place to retaliate for hits that you might disagree with. The Blues got both of those flip-flopped tonight as a dunderheaded penalty by Carlo Colaiacovo with the team down 2-1 sealed the Detroit victory.
Colaiacovo took exception to a hit that Darren Helm put on Alex Pietrangelo, and instead of trying to find a more appropriate place to voice his displeasure he decided to put Helm in a headlock. Both players were roughing with each other, but Colaiacovo started it. A two minute penalty turned into a 3-1 Detroit lead with a goal from Niklas Kronwall.
You can’t say that Halak didn’t perform tonight. The score could have easily been higher had he not been in net. The rest of the team let him down by poor decision making and not shooting the puck. The Blues only had seven shots on goal that last period, which isn’t going to get you jack or squat when you’re down by one, and choosing to retaliate for hits doesn’t get you much either except for a kick in the pants.
David Backes and Niklas Kronwall also got a bit involved behind the play earlier in the period, with some jabbing and elbowing and matching cross-checks. Kronwall obviously was trying to goad Backes into taking a penalty by elbowing him first, and it very nearly worked. Why would Kronwall do that? Because Backes is easily goaded, and he needs to stop. He and Todd Bertuzzi got matching roughing calls in a scrum near the benches. Had Backes not been involved, only Bertuzzi would have gone to the box.
The fight in front of Jimmy Howard to end the game was good indication of the frustration level of the Blues and the temper of Howard. Howard threw the first punch at Patrik Berglund, starting a melee that got both Backes and Pietrangelo ten minute misconduct penalties. Was that necessary? No.
Most of the things that the Blues did tonight weren’t necessary at all, and they’re going to have to raise their level of tolerance for frustration if they want to run with the big boys. The team needs to convert on chances and actually score. When Scott Nichol is your sniper in a game, you have a problem.
The Blues take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night at Scottrade. Here’s hoping they bounce back big and put tonight behind them. Play hockey, guys.
There are times where getting into a fight when you’re up 1-0 is a bad idea. When it gives Detroit a powerplay, it’s a bad idea. While Chris Stewart’s two-minute instigator penalty was ticking down, Pavel Datsyuk took the opportunity to score this backhander on Jaroslav Halak:
Needless to say, with a shot an aim like that, Halak didn’t stand a chance. That early goal discombobulated the Blues more than Stewart’s fight woke them up. The rest of the period was sloppy and all over the place, with very little coordination taking place. Detroit outshot St. Louis ten to seven, with Datsyuk and Johan Franzen the two scorers. Here on Franzen’s goal, he leveled Alex Pietrangelo before flipping a shot up and into the net past Halak:
Needless to say, the Blues need to get on the same page ASAP if they want to at the very least get a point here. Their first period effort was excellent, but their second period effort is how you lose hockey games.
A first period that seemed to be more than a little uneventful turned around in a hurry with a bad line-change by Detroit. The Wings were trying to get off of the ice while the Blues’ fourth line was out. I’m sure that they figured that they were in the clear even with the goof. Not so, says Scott Nichol, scoring his second goal of the season in his 600th career game:
The period continued to be a fast paced game with no penalties until Brad Stuart laid a hard check on Alex Pietrangelo that Chris Stewart, on the bench at the time, took exception to. When the line change happened, Stewart didn’t pretend that he was out there to play the puck; he just went straight for Stuart to show the Red Wing that he didn’t appreciate the hit:
To spark the Blues was probably his intention, as well as sending a message that you don’t nail top players. However, since he came off of the bench and went to Stuart, that got him an instigator on top of the fighting major, putting Detroit on the power play to start the second period. He also wound up with a 10 minute misconduct. While I respect what Stewart was trying to do, I’m really of the opinion that maybe he should focus on hitting the net a little more than hitting Brad Stuart in the face.