Game Notes: Blues 3, Predators 0
It was a night of important rebounds for the Blues -- two of them, to be exact.
The first is relatively easy to spot, as the team rebounded from their first loss of the season, a tough 3-2 defeat by the Blackhawks in Chicago, by beating the Nashville Predators last night 3-0. Back home at the Scottrade Center, the Blues looked almost frighteningly good, pushing a very Nashville club around the ice, imposing their collective will from beginning to end. (Particularly the beginning, as the Note outshot the Predators 9-3 in the first period.) Nashville did try to rally in the third, but even then the Blues never panicked, never got rattled, and kept the pressure on.
Admittedly, a one game losing streak isn't the most impressive thing to rebound from, but even so, it was mightily encouraging to see the Blues come back strong, after a back to back, after a loss, after continued proof the United Center should just be razed immediately and put on one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
The other rebound was a little more meaningful, even if it still wasn't exactly Comeback Player of the Year award material.
Jaroslav Halak had a rough night the second game of the season. In fact, it was a rough enough evening he actually got pulled, an experience which I can't imagine is ever anything but a blow to a goalie's pride. He allowed three goals on just eleven shots in that contest, a game the Blues ultimately won in a shootout against -- who else? -- the Nashville Predators. Brian Elliott got the win in relief, then took his starting turn the next night in Chicago.
To see Halak rebound in such remarkable fashion, shutting out the team he struggled against last time out, was huge. Goalies, like closers in baseball, are supposed to have the shortest of memories -- to be able to give up the big hit or give up a couple soft goals and get pulled early then come back out the next night and still believe in their own invincibility. But it's a skill, or maybe a quality, not all players possess, and to see it on display last night in such quantities was a beautiful thing.
It hasn't always been the easiest thing for Jaro to do, either; his tendency since coming to St. Louis has seemingly been to group his tough outings together, to struggle in streaks, as if he gets into a funk and then has a hard time pulling himself out of the tailspin. No funk here, though; only his second shutout of the season and a big win for the team.
- Another big game for Vladimir Tarasenko, who now has four goals and six points total in his first four NHL games. I knew the kid was talented, and I thought he was going to be good, but to come out of the gates like this? I'm almost in disbelief, to be quite honest.
- I would pay good money just to watch Ryan Reaves run into people. He hits like an NFL strong safety.
- Patrik Berglund, awesome shot. That is all
- The Blues' power play has been on fire to start the season, with seven goals in their first eleven man-advantage opportunities. It won't continue to produce at that pace, of course, but I do expect to see a much improved power play this year, compared to the intermittent difficulties we saw from this team in 2011-2012. There is just too much talent on the offensive side for Ken Hitchcock to not come up with plenty of ways for his club to put the puck in the net.
- David Perron looked pretty good last night; it feels a little strange I haven't had many chances to talk about him yet this season. As amazing as the offensive start has been for this team, Perron, oddly enough, just hasn't had a whole lot to do with it. Which could, perhaps, spell imminent doom for the rest of the league when he gets things going.
- The final tally of shots Halak had to stop to get his shutout: thirteen. That's honestly kind of absurd. To beat a team like Nashville is one thing; to utterly dominate and control them the way the Blues did last night is something else entirely. And more than reason enough to wonder just how good this team might be.