Tuesday, April 5th saw the Blues overturn the physics of both natural disasters and further swing momentum in their favor as the good guys in blue defeated the Avalanche 3-1. Loads of hype was to be had among fans, media and the clubs went in to the game, even more so than the last match up, thanks to the exchange of Erik Johnson/Jay McClement for Chris Stewart/Kevin Shattenkirk. Everyone seemed to have a hand in it and none of the players seemed to nervous despite all the buildup. EJ’s comments in his Av’s debut versus the Blues flared former EJ supporters and were seen as boastful or negative and were somewhat recalled during the Tuesday night game. However, just as many fans were asking “EJ who?” thanks to the stellar performances both Stewart and Shattenkirk have displayed wearing the Blue note.
Though scoring started late in the first period the game got off to a great start and St. Louis laid some physical assertiveness down while Jaroslav Halak played the role of a mechanized robot with the ability to stop big shots. David Backes tallied his 30th goal of the year at 14:55 on assists by Shattenkirk and Andy McDonald. Shortly thereafter, though, Colorado’s Kevin Porter answered back, tying the game at one a piece through the first period. At 17:33, in an act defined as ‘wrong’ and therefore punishable by the NHL, but defined as ‘awesome’ and ‘want-to-see-again’, Blues tough guys Ryan Reaves and Cam Janssen each took an Av (what is the plural form of a natural disaster? Avali?) to the rodeo resulting in toss of Janssen (and consequently the Av’s without Koci). The second period saw Kevin Shattenkirk, his second as a Blue, take advantage of a power play facilitating in the further oppression of his former team. Shattenkirk’s performance would put him at 2 goals and 14 assists as a Blue, which is a whopping 24 games; he’d already racked up 7 goals and 19 assists as a member of the Avalanche – get excited, folks. This kid is only a rookie and has a ferocity roaring within him, his development is key and provided he continues his training and satiates his desire to learn greatness can happen. Shattenkirk was credited in saying that he wanted to prove that he’s “found his niche here” (to Lou Korac) and this was just the game to do it in.
The third period saw the physical game increase, due in part to frustration (Colorado) and a desire to win (St. Louis). Penalties rained down like manna from heaven after Ryan Stoa of the Avs took a piece of Barret Jackman with him (Jackman was hit in the face) and Jackman and company took exception. Conflict arose quick and within seconds arms and sticks were flailing, lip readers were satisfied and viewers at home could see spit from players’ teeth as they were jawing back at one another. After the refs got everyone’s side of the story the Blues saw Jackman, Crombeen and Sobotka headed back to their locker room and the Avs said goodbye to Stoa, Porter and Olver. With only a few seconds left, on an assist from Nikita Nikitin, Andy McDonald scored an empty netter to further turn the knife in the gut of the already numb Avalanche. Final: 3-1 Blues.
…and then there was the Blackhawks game (Wednesday, April 6th).
17 seconds was all it took for the Blues to get on the scoreboard. David Backes matched his career high 31 goals to set the progress of the game. The music programmer felt a pang of heartbreak through the first as he didn’t get to play The Fratelli’s 2006 song “Chelsea Dagger”, but that would all change in due time. The Blues had an epic penalty kill unit as the Blackhawks had a 2 man advantage for nearly 2 whole minutes and came out on smelling like a rose – though everyone in the metro St. Louis area held their collective breaths Conklin and the penalty kill unit rewarded everyone by allowing no goals. The remainder of the first period was a bit stale but saw the Blues with a 1-0 lead. That’s when everything changed and the world slowed…
The second period started on just the right note for the Blues and kept momentum geared in their favor as TJ Oshie scored a power play goal at 1:06. Cue up the Dagger…Hossa scores(?) on perhaps the most controversial call of both the Blues (rivalry game) and Blackhawks (does the word playoff mean anything to you?) seasons:
After Marian Hossa’s play was “reviewed” the call on the ice stood, good goal, putting the Hawks under the Blues by only one. Then Kopecky scored. Then Leddy scored. Then St. Louis threw their remotes at their television sets. Then Chris Stewart did what we’ve come to expect from him – rise to the occasion at the precise moment necessary. Stewart scored a wicked wrister thanks in part to D’Agostini and Berglund at 9:44. This saved the Blues from rolling over like a dead dog and just watching the Hawks win the game and seemingly their playoff berth. Unfortunately…Stewart’s goal only tied the game 3-3. The remaining minutes of the game saw several chances from both sides but ended in a draw sending everyone in to the much hated, anxiety-riddled, hair-pulling overtime. And just like a Captain should, he did. Only problem was that it wasn’t our Captain, or lack thereof for that matter – it was theirs. Jonathan Toews, the poster boy, sends a rocket past Conklin, putting the gift wrap on a much needed victory for the Blackhawks.
That about sums up this report of “Conflicts of Emotions: The Never-Ending Tales of Blues Fandom”.
Post Music: Chicago X 12 by Rogue Wave – “These dogs have strayed, you don’t know how hard I tried.” That about sums it all up. On to next season…wait. There’s a game on Saturday!
Topics: Andy McDonald, Barret Jackman, BJ Crombeen, Cam Janssen, Chicago, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Stewart, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, David Backes, Erik Johnson, Jaroslav Halak, Jay McClement, Jonathan Toews, Kevin Shattenkirk, Koci, Marian Hossa, Rogue Wave, Ryan Reaves, Ryan Stoa, St. Louis, St. Louis Blues, TJ Oshie, Ty Conklin, Vladimir Sobotka