To say the end of any season is bittersweet is cliché, but to say the end of this particular 2010-2011 Blues season is bittersweet would be a bit of an understatement. While there is plenty of time to scrutinize this season in the coming weeks of the off-season, I’ll just stick to a small recap of what went down on Saturday night against theNashville Predators. As nearly every team does at some point in their season, the St. Louis Blues showered their fans in appreciation on the last game of the season by giving away everything they could find in their basement – jerseys, hotel stays, free food vouchers and more. But what everyone got for free that night was one last game, a 60 minute show of appreciation from the men who don the Blue note and one last spectacular goal of the season and game by one Mr. TJ Oshie.
If appreciation was the theme for the night, the Predators should have been appreciative of Pekka Rinne doing most of the work for them as he was absolutely outstanding in goal and only let two of the 25 shots on goal go through. Many Predators skaters were visibly exhausted and if they weren’t they played flat; Nashville beat the Blue Jackets the night before, clinching their playoff berth, and played like they had literally just hopped off the plane. The Blues also did their part by playing their hearts out, including Jaroslav Halak executing a noteworthy performance blocking all of the 24 shots put on him.
The first period saw no goals from either team, but was a display of the Blues’ energy and physical play to swing the pendulum in their favor. Early in the second period David Backes made a swirling 360 degree turn getting free of two (or three, depending on which angle you see) Predators defenders and by some magical fluke or otherwise, Backes’ pass caught TJ Oshie who was already on his knees crashing toward the net. Oshie stayed gliding on his knees and faked a quick forehand poke and with milliseconds to spare snapped the puck backhanded, putting the Blues up 1-0. Fans were either out of their seats or on the edge of them late in the second period when Cam Janssen squared up with Jordin Tootoo, no stranger to toughness (especially against the Blues, as evidence in my previous post). Of course it was decided Janssen was found guilty and was dealt a roughing penalty, further riling up the already frenzied crowd. Many fans, myself included, thought the game was headed to a 1-0 shutout and weren’t resigned to it, rather, happy that it was a victory to wrap up the season but with 49 seconds left Alex Steen netted his 20th goal of the season and 100th career point. Saturday night’s victory in their last game of the season marks only the second time since the 1967 season that the Blues have skated away with a win in their final game. The shutout by Halak made for his seventh shutout of the season and third shutout this season against Nashville.
Many saw this as the end all be all of Blues goals this season. I certainly think it’s a great contender.
And that’s all for now! On to some post-season other teams hockey.