The Blues pulled out a victory thanks to some unlikely sources.
The power-play went 2-for-2 on the evening and Evgeni Grachev scored his first career NHL goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, as they beat the Dallas Stars Monday night, 5-3.
Grachev was recalled from Peoria on December 12 and has been moved throughout the lineup. He received a chance to play on a line tonight with Patrik Berglund and David Perron.
“It was a big opportunity and a big responsibility [to move to the second line],” Grachev said. “It means more ice time.
“I enjoyed playing with those guys.”
Chris Stewart scored an early power-play goal, as well as adding an empty-netter in the third period, to score three goals in his last three games played.
Stewart’s first goal came off a bad angle shot that somehow eluded Dallas rookie net-minder Richard Bachman to give the Blues an early 1-0 lead at 8:24 of the first period.
December 18, 2011
Coach Hitchcock on the play of Jaroslav Halak in tonight's game: “He was like our team. Flashes. Flashes of good. Flashes of ‘what the…’. He made some big saves in the second period and then there was some weird stuff going on. He didn’t handle the puck as well as he did previously and it kind of put [us] in trouble and then he would make a few saves in the third period when we needed him.
"This allows us to play Brian [Elliott] in Colorado and sets us up for that."
Alex Pietrangelo on the first two periods: "We know what we’re capable of in this room and those first two periods were not up to par [or] up to our standards."
Pietrangelo on the play of his defensive partner, Carlo Colaiacovo: "He’s a puck moving defenseman. Everyone can watch how well he moves the puck. We’ve played together for two years now and you develop a relationship together on and off the ice. We read off each other so well. You know where the other guy is going to go. Great shot by him and it’s another assist for him. He’s an elite defenseman and he’s playing like it right now."
Both the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche will point to February 19, 2011 on the calendar and say it was a day that changed their respective franchises.
The remaining question is whether it changed for the better.
February 19 was the date that the St. Louis Blues sent defenseman Erik Johnson, forward Jay McClement and a 2011 first round draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Chris Stewart, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a second round pick. Though highly questioned on both sides, the early critics gave the edge to the Blues. Just ask Avalanche center Paul Stastny’s father, Peter.
“This young team was ready to challenge, almost, for a Stanley Cup this season,” Stastny told Kelly Chase of KMOX after the trade. “They were so good. All they needed was some more chemistry, and some synergies. Instead, they destroyed the team. I mean, that was a one-way deal. Mr. Armstrong will look like a genius. I don’t know what they were thinking in the Colorado organization. I should not have said this, but I’m so, so mad what they’ve done to this team. They’ve moved the team about two to three years back again.”
Looking at the trade on paper, it was easy to see why Stastny could not keep his opinion to himself. At the time of the trade, Stewart amassed 41 goals in 113 games spanning over two seasons. Shattenkirk was in the middle of his rookie campaign, scoring 26 points in 46 games, placing him second in rookie defensemen scoring just behind Anaheim’s Cam Fowler at the time.
A St. Louis Blues – Winnipeg Jets game does not sound too appetizing now, does it?
Give it about 3 years.
By December 9, 2014, the Blues and Jets will have played each other anywhere from 13-16 times. This is not even including any playoff matchups that may have occurred.
Under the new NHL alignment strategy, there will be four conferences with two of these conferences sporting seven teams and the other two conferences featuring eight teams. Within the seven-team conferences, each team will face-off six times throughout a season. In the eight-team conferences, each team will face each other five or six times, working on a season-by-season rotating basis.
Here are the four new conferences under the new alignment plan:
Conference A (8 teams): ANA, CAL, COL, EDM, LAK, PHO, SJS, VAN
Conference B (8 teams): CHI, CBJ, DAL, DET, MIN, NAS, STL, WIN
Conference C (7 teams): BOS, BUF, FLA, MON, OTT, TBL, TOR
Conference D (7 teams): CAR, NJD, NYI, NYR, PHI, PIT, WAS
This is where I think that the NHL did a genius job putting together each conference; some rivalries will stay intact. These include Anaheim – Los Angeles, Chicago – Detroit, Boston – Montreal and Philadelphia – Pittsburgh.