Next, the only physical presence truly shown on a consistent basis was by defenseman Ian Cole, who was just called up from Peoria to start his third stint with the Blues. The call-up was made when Carlo Colaiacovo flew back to St. Louis, ahead of the team. Further examination of an injury that occurred Wednesday, against the Anaheim Ducks, is thought to be the reason. David Backes also provided a bit of bite, albeit a little late, at the 19:00 minute mark of the third period. It was then he became understandably fed-up with the Sharks running amok and took on Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Ryan Reaves, started off with a fight right in the beginning of the first period but then didn’t show nearly enough dominance after that.
Here is the issue: intermittent fights are not the same as dominant, physical presence from shift-to-shift. They have to finish their checks and make the puck carrier pay for receiving a pass, being around the net and in the zone. Physical presence and pressing your opponent doesn’t just mean fights, it means strength and power that wears teams out. The kind of play that has skilled players thinking twice before going anywhere near the goaltender or taking a blind pass because there is innate fear of what will be bestowed as a result of their actions.
One thing the St. Louis Blues have been all year, to their credit, and no matter who is or isn’t on their ice, is accountable. This accountability needs to be found once again. Without the necessary discipline needed to maintain the play that had gotten them from Thanksgiving to the end of the year, they are going to fall out of reach of the eighth seed in the West, fast. Right now they have games in hand and T.J. Oshie’s imminent return as tangibles to hold onto. Now the push has to continue.