Detroit Red Wings
Joe Louis Arena
Game Time 6:30 PM CDT
St. Louis, MO- Where does one even begin with this post. The recent past has awoken a nasty night mare amongst blues fans. This nightmare is filled with blown leads, poor, flat performances, and goaltending that is sub par. It harkens back to a time when the front office begged the fans to just hold on, to believe in the team. A time when John Davidson did everything in his power to promise fans the Note would turn things around, that this rebuild would be worth it in the end. Well, I am here to tell you that things are not headed in such a rosy direction. Having been the red-headed step child of the NHL for more than 40 years will jade a fan base. We are a nervous bunch, its evident in every fan board you read that the fan base is once again concerned and headed toward critical mass and in a hurry. I will refrain from yelling out ” The Sky Is Falling” but I will not make excuses for this team either. The time is now for the Blues to show that the last 8 years has been worth the fans patients. Years of loosing hockey and disappointing seasons have been the calling card of every blues fan. The St. Louis Blues have the talent to be a team at the top. The problem is they are not playing like a team with any confidence or talent. Sloppy give aways, no puck support, and at times soft goaltending are unraveling this team at an alarming rate. “In Hitch I trust”, but that statement can only go so far if the boys wont buy into what he is selling. The ship is taking on water and the Blues have a choice in the very very near future that they must answer. Will they get out of this funk and get back to playing that game they way they should, or will they continue to falter and crumble like a cheap date who’s had to many shots of tequila? I will never jump off the ship no matter how much water it takes on. I would, however, like the team to turn this thing around and get back to riding high on the open sea again.
Tonight the Blues skate back into Detroit looking to get things back on track. The Blues will have a tough time with the Winged Wheel as the Wings have found the path back to the Detroit way of hockey. The Blues will have to bring the physical play and bring it early. The wings in the last game dominated the physical play early and turned the Blues on their heads. The Wings got the Blues skating after the puck instead of being on it and controlling the possession game. David Backes said it best in a post game interview after being beat by LA 4-1 “We can talk all we want, but proof is on the ice and making a change there,” “It starts with me and it goes down the list to everyone on the team’s got to be better, more accountable. … There’s no more great speeches that are gonna pull us out of this. It’s putting the work in and doing it on the ice.” Ken Hitchcock was quoted saying “You’re in the NHL. You have a privilege of playing. It’s not a right. We’ve got to play for the guys beside us. It’s not take a couple of shifts off, then I’ll compete, somebody else will do the job tonight. It’s got to be everybody. We don’t have a team that’s going to have a 50-goal scorer score a couple of goals every night.It’s going to be a collective effort. If we don’t have 20 guys every night and 23 guys in practice working hard, it shows up in huge holes on your team.” One captain and one Jack Adams award-winning coach is telling you exactly whats wrong with the team. It is a team sport and the team will have to play as one unit tonight if they want to stroll in to one of the toughest buildings in all of hockey and expect to come away with two points.
Keys to the game for St. Louis tonight are straight forward and simple. Tonight the Blues must limit the man advantages for the Wings. Detroit will make you pay more often than not when you give them the advantage. The next key for the Blues is to keep Detroit to the outside and far far away from Brian Elliott. Elliott is a good goaltender that at the current time is playing with very little self-confidence. Keeps the pucks out and away from him and allow for good views of the shot. The Blues either need to completely block the shot tonight or get the hell out-of-the-way and let Elliott see it and make the save. Jimmy Howard will make scoring goals harder than ever tonight. Standing on his head against LA making 45+ saves Howard is quickly pulling himself back into play off shape. The Blues have to get pressure on the puck and traffic in front of Howard. It has to come fast and it has to come often. The Blues can ill afford to fall behind in tonight’s contest. With the “Wing Factor” always in play you never know what kind of crazy sh.. is gonna happen.
Hopefully tonight the Blues team we came to love from last season shows up and begins a path back to the top. Only the guys on the ice and sitting on the bench can make that happen. The fans can only do so much to give their team a shove in the right direction. Dear Blues, Please get off your arses and get back to competing like champions!
Tonight’s line up for Hitchcock’s Blues should look like this:
(Video) In case you forgot what the wing factor was.