Columbus Blue Jackets
St. Louis Blues
…and the beat goes on…
The Blues face off against Division rival Columbus tonight in a game that could further bury Columbus or propel the Blues. Columbus sits in 14th place in the West with 51 points, 10 points behind 8th place Detroit. The Blues are in 13th with 56 points, 5 points off the pace. Detroit does not play tonight, but does on Sunday. A Columbus loss and a Detroit win could put them 12 points out and keep the Blues about 5 points back. It could be 6 for the Blues with a win, Detroit loss, and Calgary win over the lowly Oilers tonight.
Columbus comes in as inconsistent as ever. They haven’t won back to back games since January 10th and have lost 6 of their last 10 in regulation. Columbus vice appears to be scoring. In their last 10 games Columbus has allowed 3 goals or more in each loss. The Blues need to look to their power play to generate chances and convert to give the Blues some added offensive to go along with their 1-2 even strength goals a night.
JR over at the Post has his Morning Skate blog up. Talking about DJ King and his return.
Lou Korac has up his Gameday blog as well. Here are the lineups from the morning skate.
Mason in net.
DJ King is back from Peoria but will not play tonight. Cam Janssen is a healthy scratch. Carlo Colaiacovo will not play although he thinks he is ready to go. Payne is likely sticking with what works. The Sydor-Weaver pair was pretty good during Carlo’s absence.
Lou says to expect Mathieu Garon to start for the Jackets.
I will likely be out and about this evening so will be catching the game on the DVR and will behind live play. Will update as I get through each period.
What a period by the Backes line. From the first shift to their last.Good early tone and work ethic set up by that line.
The Blues forecheck is just outworking the Blue Jackets defensemen. There wasn’t many clear turnovers in the period, but a lot of pressure and the Jackets exit was rarely not contested. Steen might be the best forechecker on this team.
For all the talent Perron has, he really seems to not read the quick developing play well. I know he had some sizeable real estate to shoot at, but he needs to get that puck off the far leg pads. Steen was right there for a rebound. He made up for it on the very nice play to end the period.
Soft first goal by the team. Not so much all on Mason, but you can’t allow Dorsett to walk in the slot like that.
Columbus did have some good chances, but Mason was up to the task. As was Sydor and Steen. A couple blocks and a couple of limping trips to the bench.
The Blues hard work lead to a late period power play. With the zone clear with about 14 seconds left the period seemed over. However, the Blues rush up ice and Perron makes the right read and dumps the puck off to Oshie on the off wing. Backes camps in front of Garon and Oshie shoots low and on net. Backes spreads the legs, and puts his stick down the middle. Tip in for his 11th goal of the season.
Blues go in to the second tied 1-1. Late period goals can kill a team (we’ve seen it happen to us). Blues get the jump early and they can put Columbus out of this game.
This period was a little more evenly matched. Both teams generated chances and pressure.
Winchester v Boll a draw?
It’s sad that another questionable call leads to a goal against the Blues. Late in the period Eric Brewer taps away Derek Brassards stick. They shove and Raffi Torres injects himself as a 3rd man in. Scuffle ensues and some how Roman Polak is given the only penalty? Really? Its not like the call at the end of the first period was questionable. How often are the scuffles in front turned in to 5 on 3 power plays with about 2 minutes left in a period? Why not even it up and let the teams play.
Here is it refs, plain and simple. You are horribly inconsistent. You can look to virtually every game each night to find a questionable call leading to a game changing event. Why? I know its up to the players to decide the game, but the refs do not need to make inconsistent calls to tilt game events to one side or the other. Either way Columbus scores late in the second on the 2-man advantage.
The Blues and Columbus went back and forth. Refs missed calls on Columbus, Brad Boyes missed a W-I-D-E open net and takes a lazy high stick. Columbus goes on the power play late.
Just when you think the game is over the Blues pressure hard on the PK and kill the penalty. The Blues continue to ramp up their even strength play and pressure Columbus late. What happened to create the McDonald goal was quite interesting.
Rick Nash, the Columbus Captain decides its a good idea to use his stick to flip a glove on the ice at a Blues player carring the puck. The ref finally recognizers the penalty and whistles Nash. The Blues create chances as Erik Johnson draws his point defender to the middle for a nice backhand saucer to McDonald. Andy walks and in bang its 2-2 with little time left.
Let me ask Columbus fans…where is the leadership and intelligent play from your Captain? A dumb penalty on the raod, in the third, on a team pressuring you with all the momentum. Not much leadership in my estimation. Hopefully that level of play for Nash continues on to Team Canada.
The Blues create a couple of chances with Polak and the great play by McDonald. Kariya takes the blue line and finds McDonald sprinting in behind two defenders. Andy goes skate to stick, forehand to backhand and tries to get it past Garon’s left leg pads. Garon answers and the play comes back up ice. Kris Russel ends up with the puck over the blue line. Kariya has him marked, but instead decides to cover the pass to the 4th man in. The problem is that no one is left to take on Russell. As we have seen with Mason before, he is handcuffed glove side and gives up a weak goal. Jackets win 3-2.
I love the desire shown by the Blues in the third to absorb the penalty and come back. Its an encouraging sign. However, its one mental mistake and a soft goal that burns this team again. Kariya fails to cover his man and Mason cannot stop a shot that Garon did on his end. Middle of the road teams are defined by their goaltending. Tonight Garon was better.
There were encouraging signs from the Backes and Tkachuk lines at even strength. Solid, aggressive play.
When Steen failed to return for the third, it really hurt this teams chances of taking the two points. Steen has fully blossomed under Payne and his forechecking and puck hounding presence was missed. Alex took a slapper right off the laces. He limped off but came back only to wipe out while trying to cover a point shot. All that has been said is “lower body”. Just when we got 100% healthy….the injury bug bites again.
I was not really impressed by the play of Brewer and Johnson together. Too often I thought they were backed up by one forechecker and failed multiple times to move the puck up ice quickly. EJ later proved he as up to the task, but I was not so impressed by Brewer. Other than Johnson’s multiple single man pressure back-ups, I thought he played a very confident game.
Anyone else really tired of Columbus defensemen scoring goals on Mason? It just happens every game I swear.
Faceoffs continue to be an issue for the Blues. Columbus won 30 of 53 faceoffs, 60%. The Blues just cant win games when their faceoff precentage is so low. Their puck movement game isnt good enough to generate the needed possession when you lose so many faceoffs.
Just not good enough. can the Blues acquire a faceoff winner? I would think that needs to become a priority. Kreps, Stajan, Belanger are some names that could be moved around the deadline who are in the Top 40 that could be moved.
Brad Boyes needs to get his head straight. I just can’t get over how he can’t seem to score this season. The first chance on the power play was a great save by Garon, but Boyes didn’t lift the puck. The previous two seasons that puck is in just under the crossbar. This year its barely above the pad. The second chance , missing a wide open net. What makes it worse is that Garon was out to the far left and Boyes pulled the shot wide back towards Garon. I know its a fast game and a hard play, but after scoring 76 goals in two full seasons in St. Louis he needs to bury that. The Blues are paying Boyes $4mil and not getting much impact.
The Kariya scoreless streak in St. Louis carries on. McDonald extended his point streak to 7 games.
With the one point the Blues are now 4 Points back of Detroit for the 8th spot in the West. Detroit pays the Pens tomorrow on NBC. Root for the Pens if you’re a Blues fan tomorrow, the Blues need the buffer.