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.