Blues Shake Things Up For Win Against Flames


The St. Louis Blues (47-23-7) defeated the Calgary Flames (42-29-7) 4-1 Thursday night in St. Louis.  The Blues entered the game following a tough loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.  The Flames had done better in their prior games with a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday.  This was the final of three meetings between the Blues and the Flames.  The Blues won the two prior games of the series, 4-1 and 4-0 in October and March, respectively.

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The Blues came to the game without key players Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.  These absences (and possibly a lack of chemisty) prompted Coach Ken Hitchcock to adjust the lines in a major way.  Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stasny joined T.J. Oshie on the first line.  David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin moved to the second line.  Ty Rattie, Ollie Jokinen and Jori Lehtera made up the third line.  Steve Ott, Ryan Reaves and Marcel Goc kept their post of the fourth.

League, conference and division standings aside, tonight’s win makes the Blues the sixth team with an assured position in the post-season.  From here on out, wins will help them gain home-ice advantage in those games.  The Blues currently lead their preliminary opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, by three points (which is likely to be 1 by the end of the day).  The Blues would probably prefer to play the wildcard over the Hawks, though, and in order to do so they will have to overtake the Nashville Predators who currently lead the division with 103 points, two ahead of the Blues.


The Blues started the game with some energy and at 1:16 they struck early with a goal from Jaden Schwartz.  T.J. Oshie received the sole assist.  The Blues continued to keep play in the offensive zone for the next several minutes.  After five minutes, Calgary found their offense.

Calgary took the the first penalty of the game at 8:31 after Joe Colborne tripped Patrik Berglund.  The Blues started the power play well, but carelessly turned over the puck a minute in.  Eventually they managed to take a handful of shots, but came out empty.

Following the power play the Blues controlled most of the play, although they allowed Calgary a short set-up in the defensive zone.  As the period approached the final five minutes the Flames came at the Blues with full force.

Apr 2, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41) fights with Calgary Flames left wing Brandon Bollig (25) during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With almost two minutes left, Brandon Bollig left the ice and boarded Barret Jackman.  Robert Bortuzzo came in quick to Jackman’s defense and engaged Bollig.  The hit drew blood from Jackman which earned Bollig a game misconduct on top of his boarding penalty.  All in all, the Flames spent 5 minutes in the box while the Blues had two for Bortuzzo’s instigation.  The Blues controlled the 4 on 4 time and ended the period with almost 3 minutes of 5 on 4  time remaining.

The Blues started the second period with strong offense, and 23 seconds in Paul Stastny scored a power play goal.  David Backes and Jaden Schwartz earned the assist.  Because Bollig’s penalty was a major, the Blues continued their power play but had a difficult time finding their footing  for the rest of their time.

Apr 2, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny (26) scores a goal past Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller (1) during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary quickly returned the effort, though, after Sean Monahan scored to close the Blues’ lead 2-1.  The Blues came back with energy and continued to chip away at the Flames’ goal.  After nine minutes the Blues led in shots 30-8.  At that time David Backes went to the box for slashing.  Despite allowing a dinger on the goalpost, the Blues held the Flames back to kill the penalty.

The Blues continued to keep the Flames on their heels once they were back to even strength.  However, with 5 minutes left the energy from both teams decreased.  In the final ten minutes, the teams only took two shots a piece.  When the period ended Jackman and Bortuzzo took some shoves but kept level heads.  The Blues left the period ahead 2-1.

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The play was much more balanced at the start of the third.  Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t find a third early goal although Dmitrij Jaskin and Patrik Berglund had a great chance on a breakaway.  After five minutes there were only two more shots, which were both from the Blues.  At 6:58 Kevin Shattenkirk went to the box for tripping.

The Blues killed the penalty well, but almost immediately after getting out Patrik Berglund went to the box for high-sticking.  The Blues kept the Flames at bay and at one point David Backes had a solo breakaway chance.  The Blues killed the penalty without giving up too much ground.

The Blues came back with some extremely strong offense and excellent passing.  They put up their best offensive of the night and didn’t give the Flames a break.  At 16:45 Jori Lehtera scored from a wraparound feed from Berglund to put the Blues ahead 3-1.

With 2:30 left the Flames pulled their goaltender.  Then with two minutes left Jori Lehtera gained a break and passed to Berglund who scored on an empty net to put the Blues up 4-1.  Stastny earned the second assist.  The Blues ran down the clock and ended the game with a 4-1 victory.

They officially earned a playoff position and Ken Hitchcock can loosen his tie.


It’s bittersweet that Alexander Steen and and Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game.  While the game wasn’t exactly par with what we saw earlier in the season, the Blues played their best in the past couple of weeks.  They broke their same-old same-old routine with an extreme adjustment of lines.

This change of routine may have translated into some added efforts from the players.  Perhaps playing with a new group of guys makes things a little more interesting, a little more fun and kept the players a little more invested in the game.  I think this is true from a fan’s point of view as well.  Win or lose, it is better to see it happen with a different configuration.

Apr 2, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Marcel Goc (57) attempts to deflect a shot towards the goal against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to tell how Coach Hitchcock will handle this adjustment.  He’ll probably keep things going this way for another game or two but it is doubtful these changes will be permanent.  After the radical goal-tending changes didn’t work out well last season he’s probably not too inclined to make more big last-minute adjustments.  If it doesn’t work out he’d never live it down.

The only untouched line for this game, was the fourth of Steve Ott, Ryan Reaves and Marcel Goc.  Ott has been the go-to guy to fill in vacancies on the upper lines, which makes it odd that he wasn’t a part of the reassignments.  On the other hand, these three have always performed just as expected and at a level higher than a typical fourth line.

Whatever comes next, new lines or no, hopefully the Blues can carry this momentum into the post-season.  Regardless, this was a game that was fun to watch.

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