This was the biggest game of the season for the Blues, and boy did they come to play. St. Louis scored early and scored often, King destroyed Barch in an early fight, Marty Turco was rudely chased from the net early in the 2nd period shortly after the Stars franchise had honored him for playing in his 500th game on Tuesday, and the Blues added a couple more goals on Lehtinen for good measure en route to a 6-1 drubbing of the Stars, and jumping over them in the standings in the process...all on their home ice. Did we kick their dog while we were there too? (Where are you Cam Neely?)
This marks five consecutive victories for the blues which has catupulted them into a tie for 9th place and only one stinking point behind 8th place Detroit. Hey Wings fans, do you see that loud and obnoxious big blue Mack Truck in your rear view mirror that's blaring it's horn, bearing down on your bumper and is about to merge into the passing lane? That's the St. Louis Blues. Which is the same team that has owned you this season, swept you out of Sweden to start the season and is about to sweep you out of the playoff picture in a couple days. I assume we'll see an octopus whizz by our ear as we pass you. Just make sure Mr. Octopi twiller guy is on hand to sling around the dead animal carcas while he still can...because he won't get to do it in the playoffs this year.
Ok, maybe that is pretty cocky, jerk-like, a lot of wishful thinking, and some other things, but it could happen. I actually think the Blues will finish 7th, the Wild will finish 8th and the Wings will be on the outside looking in for the first time in forever. But we'll see how it goes. Getting Franzen back helps them a lot, but unless he can stop pucks between the pipes, he won't help enough...but that's for another article.
With Brad Boyes and Paul Kariya finding their scoring touch over the past few games, things are looking quite good in Blues nation. The lack of production from Boyes and Kariya were two big reasons why the Blues were struggling this year. If they have turned it around, which they may very well have, the playoffs are almost a lock for the Blues because the defense and goaltending are solid. Offensive production during the first part of the season was horrendous and the power play lead the way in futility. But all of that seems to have changed. The Blues have scored 4 goals or more in 5 straight games. They haven't done that since 1992 during the days of Hull & Shanny.
The Blues seemed to be running at optimal efficiency the last three games before the Olympic break, but in the two games after the break, they have cranked it up a notch. Could it be that the two week layoff that many thought would kill the Blues momentum, may have actually helped them more than other teams? It may have...and I'll tell you why. When a coach gets fired in the middle of the season, the replacement coach has to take over another coach's team, another coach's players and pretty much another coach's system. It's hard for him to come in and make any significant changes right away because he has to prepare them for a new opponent every other day. He didn't have training camp and preseason to work with players, instill a philosophy, work on a new system, give guys time to adjust to the way he wants to do things and buy into his system. During the Olympic break, Coach Payne didn't have to focus on matchups for the next day's game or worry about traveling half the time. He had time to practice and practice some more and solidify his system in a sort of mini-camp before the end of the season. It's only been two games out of the Olympic break, but those two games are some of the best hockey the Blues have played all season. Coincidence? Maybe. But that time off could have only helped Coach Payne gel with his team.
On a side note, how about a big WTF to the available space on the visitor's bench in Dallas? Where was Blues backup goalie, Ty Conklin? He wasn't on the bench. Where was he, you ask? He was sitting by himself in a folding chair behind the glass in the corner of the ice surface, next to the Zamboni door. I've seen this in a couple rinks around the league. Why and WTF? Shouldn't all benches be the same length? Isn't there a regulation size for benches? The fact that the backup goalie has to sit 50 ft. away from the rest of his team in an NHL arena, is ridiculous. There was room on the Stars bench for Lehtinen, so WTF? The Stars should be a bit ashamed for the stupidness of that. Almost as ashamed as Scotty Bowman should be for freshly painting visitor's locker rooms in Joe Louis arena before playoff games so they fill with paint fumes. Classy? No...douchey.
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