After the absurd melee that punctuated the final horn of the Blues' 3-0 win Saturday night over the San Jose Sharks, it might be tempting to expect that tonight's game will be just as rough-and-tumble, full of retaliation, vim, and vigor.
Well, this isn't the Penguins/Flyers series, so don't expect too much of a WWE Smackdown environment at the HP Pavillion tonight. Is there irritation? Of course, especially over Valdimir Sobotka's breaking of Dominic Moore's nose and T.J. Galliardi's charge against Andy McDonald that broke his helmet. Unlike the brawl that took place in Sunday's Pens/Flyers game, no suspensions were handed down from any plays in the Blues/Sharks game. Moore was displeased with Sobotka's punch, but didn't feel the need to discuss it, while McDonald said this regarding Galliardi's check that possibly added fuel to the impending fire:
For McDonald, the lack of even an NHL hearing regarding Galiardi's hit, which broke his helmet, had him surprised
"Really surprised," McDonald said. "I had a chance to look at it on video and it's pretty clear that he comes in, he targets the head and not only that, he jumps. I guess I don't understand the rule properly. It's just really disappointing from my perspective, and certainly from players around the league who are hoping that the league is cracking down on head shots."
Roll the dice, Andy. You either get a suspension, or Brendan Shanahan asks for your allowance money back.
Will this impact the game tonight? Chances are good that it won't be a pacifist affair, but both teams have a shot at winning the series, and getting out of control will do neither the Sharks nor the Blues any good. These guys are consummate professionals, and while the occasional questionable play (and short tempers that go with them) might pop up, hijinx like James Neal's and Aaron Asham's won't be seen in San Jose tonight from either team.
It's all about defense, line matching, and making the smart plays, and the Blues have the advantage there. Factor in some hopefully solid goaltending, and tonight won't be a brawl at all -- it'll be a solid, old time, Western Conference hockey game. Make some coffee folks - you'll want to stay up for this one.