Two-Face said it best; it is always the darkest just before the dawn.
I doubt that the Blues players repeated this movie line before heading into the weekend, although it seems to fit rather perfectly. The Blues were driving down a dark road that had no glimmer of light. Giving up 29 goals in five games (all resulting in four losses and one overtime loss), the St. Louis hockey team looked like they would never pick themselves up. But back-to-back games at home can do wonders.
Friday night the Blues welcomed the Ottawa Senators to town. Davis Payne noticed a problem, or he just simply read the home page for LetsGoBlues.com before announcing his starting line. Erik Johnson was taken off of Eric Brewer’s pairing and was placed with Carlo Colaiacovo on the back line, while youngster Alex Pietrangelo replaced him on Brewer’s pairing. Simple proof that what is written here is the most important information for hockey fans (ok, maybe not the most…)
This seemed to work, as well as everything else on the roster. The Senators came in to Scottrade with a 9-9-1 record, and it showed that they are not currently a winning franchise Friday night. Brad Boyes, despite the overall horrid games as of late, continued to burn opposing teams, scoring his fourth goal in as many games off a rebound. Carlo Colaiacovo and Eric Brewer scored .35 seconds apart in the second period, proving that the Blues’ blue line does include some guys that can put the puck in the net. Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund added goals, as the Blues took control and convincingly won the game 5-2. Ty Conklin made 18 saves, posting his first victory in St. Louis in two seasons as a Blue. Maybe he can finally call St. Louis “home”.
Saturday night, the Blues had another opponent coming in town that was a beatable opponent. The always beaten and scarred New Jersey Devils rolled into town, despite half their salary being on the IR. The other half is invested in a certain Russian-born player that cannot find the back of the net.
Jaroslav Halak got the start for St. Louis, despite his dreadful performance in Detroit three nights before. Questions arose instantly, as just .26 seconds in David Clarkson took a long shot that found its way through the St. Louis netminder. But coach Davis Payne stuck with the 25-year old goaltender, and it turned out to be the right move. Halak worked it out and would make 33 saves on 35 shots to keep the Devils in the dumps.
Alex Pietrangelo added his first goal of the season, and Eric Brewer put in his second goal of the weekend. While the defense was clicking offensively, role players got into the action as well. Brad Winchester had the best tip-in goal he will ever have while standing in front of the Devils’ goal. He knocked the puck down on a hip-level shot from defenseman Tyson Strachan and jubilation filled the rink as the entire line went berserk and celebrated the huge goal, which stood to be the game-winner in the Blues’ 3-2 victory.
The 11-5-3 Blues will be back on the ice Wednesday, as they will travel to Nashville and play the dreaded Predators on their home ice. Coming off the big two wins to snap the losing streak may not be the only good news for Blues nation right now; veteran defenseman Barret Jackman may be back in the lineup. He did many skating drills Monday morning with the club in practice.
"He looked pretty good out there, [he] was skating pretty hard the past couple of days," Davis Payne told Jeremy Rutherford of stltoday.com. "It's a matter of getting him up to the battle pace and speed of execution. He's cleared ... we'll check in on the progress made today and see where that gets us tomorrow."
The Blues look like a hockey team again after some dreadful performances as of late. With players coming back from the injury reserve, the darkest days may be behind them. Let’s hope the dawn lasts a little longer this time around.