A Tough Loss vs. Detroit; Scenarios for Tomorrow Night vs. Phoenix

With two days left in the regular season, the Blues could be playing one of three teams in their first round playoff series: The Sharks, the Kings, or the Coyotes. Moreover, the Blues could still finish first in the Western Conference if they win both of their remaining games, tonight against Phoenix at home and Saturday in Dallas. Vancouver, after a 3-2 regulation loss in Calgary on Thursday night, has relinquished its hold on the West. In a crazy game in Los Angeles, the Sharks beat the Kings in a shootout, which leaves the fate of the Pacific Division in limbo.

The Blues’ 3-2 shootout loss on Wednesday against Detroit was a bitter pill to swallow. Brian Elliott extended his shutout streak deep into the 3rd period, and after a shorthand goal by David Perron and a tally by Andy McDonald, the Blues led 2-0. Johann Franzen and the Wings came back with a fury as the Blues retreated into a shell. Franzen scored 2 quick ones with under 6 minutes to play to tie the game. It was a disturbing result for a Blues team that has been inconsistent of late, particularly struggling to finish games with the same intensity with which they start them.

Here’s what will happen after tomorrow night’s game against the Coyotes:

With a regulation win on Friday against Phoenix:

The Blues will move to 109 points, tying with Vancouver. By virtue of the Blues’ extra non-shootoout wins (ROW), they would own the tiebreaker for 1st in the conference. Phoenix would remain in 8th, with 93 points and would be slated for a rematch with the Blues in the 1st round, each team with 1 game left.

If the Blues win in OT or a shootout, they would still move into 1st in the West because of the ROW tiebreaker over Vancouver. Phoenix would then have 94 points, the same as LA and San Jose, but because Phoenix has an extra ROW over San Jose but not LA, so the Coyotes would move into 7th.

If the Coyotes win in regulation, they would move into first place in the Pacific, the #3 seed with 95 points to SJ’s and LA’s 94. The Blues would remain in 2nd in the West and would then find it very difficult to win the West. The Kings would slide into the #7 spot and the Shark #8.

A Coyotes win in overtime, and the Blues would gain a point and would then need to get 2 points against Dallas and need Vancouver to lose on Saturday against Edmonton to win the West. The Coyotes would still move to the #3 spot.

Phew. Now on Saturday, that’s where things get REALLY interesting. LA plays SJ at the Shark Tank and the Coyotes visit Minnesota.

While it’s interesting for us fans to think about, the Blues need to focus on winning their last 2 games of the season. Stumbling into the playoffs is a recipe for disaster, and that scenario has doomed too many Blues teams in the past to count. Brian Elliott could very well earn the starting job in game 1 of the playoffs with another shutout tomorrow night, although Jaroslav Halak will have one last chance to establish himself as the go-to guy on Saturday. It’ll likely be Halak, as it should be, but Ken Hitchcock is taking nothing for granted. The Blues can go a long way toward righting the ship (3-3-4 in their last 10) this weekend.

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Blues Dominated, Miss Chance to Clinch Central, Lose 4-3 (SO)

The Blues just can’t get it done in Chicago. Something about that building, those colours, that team, and that m**#^&$*@*ing goal song that signify doom for the Note. Whatever it is, it’s an annoying trend. Make no mistake aboot it: the Blackhawks dominated the Blues tonight at the United Center in Chicago, outshooting them 40-20 and winning 4-3 in the shoot out. Yes, the Blues come away with a point, but only on the strength of a 3rd period comeback that, in the grand scheme of the game, was undeserved.

Chicago started the scoring midway through the first on a long wrist shot by Brian Bickell that Jaroslav Halak should have stopped. Alex Steen responded 9 seconds later to tie the game. The 2nd period was sloppy on both sides, but the Blues especially were unfocused and unable to establish a forecheck. So it was unsurprising when the Hawks scored a couple quickies early in the 3rd to build a 3-1 lead.

If there’s one positive from tonight, it’s that the Blues never gave up. Jason Arnott scored on a wraparound midway through the 3rd and then in the last 2 minutes, David Perron tipped home a Kris Russel slapshot to force overtime. Again, the Blackhawks dominated OT but were robbed by several dramatic saves by Jaroslav Halak, the somewhat controversial starter after Brian Elliott’s 3 consecutive shutouts. Halak didn’t disappoint, turning away 7 Chicago shots in overtime, many of them high quality scoring chances.

The shootout…well, who cares? It was scoreless through 3 rounds, some loser for the Blackhawks scored in the 4th round, and Patrick Berglund rang his attempt off the post, and the Blues were denied the chance to clinch the Central Division. They’ll get to try again, this time at home, on Saturday night against the last place Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blues had better start rounding into playoff form, because tonight was bad, and they’ve been inconsistent here down the stretch. Roman Polak’s absence is really hurting this team. When he comes back, a lot of the problems should begin to fix themselves.

Talkin’ Pucks-Will Maetzold (March 8)

MARCH 8-Full Show

This week’s guest: WIll Maetzold

SEGMENT 1-Show Open

The Blues are for real; It’s good to see Halak emerge as this team’s legitimate goaltender; Halak & Elliot have been driving force behind this PK streak; Detroit is slumping which is always good; Folks who make NHL schedule are morons; Who’s the team MVP (other than Halak & Elliot)?

SEGMENT 2-Will Maetzold

Will Maetzold, video producer for the Columbus Blue Jackets joins the show to talk chances of Rick Nash being a Jacket next season (he thinks they’re real good) and CBJ’s horrific season

SEGMENT 3-Eastern Conference

Let’s take a stroll around the NHL; There’s a good chance Washington misses the playoffs; Ovi is getting fat; Hopefully Crosby can stay healthy; Pittsburgh organization has a completely different (and better) culture to it than Washington’s; NHL should learn from the PGA and Tiger Woods;

Hank’s Sports Blog will be giving away a free University of Missouri flag, compliments of the fine folks over at CVS Flags.

To enter, all you have to do is either follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook! It’s that easy! If you follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, then you’ll be entered twice.

 

Another 2 Points for the Note; A 3-1 Win over Anaheim and FIRST IN THE LEAGUE

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – I’ve run out of good things to say about this team. They just don’t play bad games anymore.

After Tuesday’s 5-1, emotional beat-down of the rival Chicago Blackhawks, Blues fans were concerned about a letdown tonight against the 12th place Anaheim Ducks. But not only was there no letdown, the Blues played one of their best 3rd periods of the year and picked up another 2 points. In the process, coupled with The New York Rangers’ loss to Ottawa (with Ben Bishop picking up the win) the Blues moved into sole possession of first place in the NHL.

Today’s date is March 8th. There is less than a month remaining in the regular season. And the Blues are the best team in the NHL. Let that soak in for a minute.

Tonight, it was about surviving the first 2 periods against a desperate Ducks team. Anaheim took a 1-0 lead on a Corey Perry snapshot over the blocker of Jaroslav Halak early in the 2nd period.

Anaheim was out-skating the Blues and beating them to loose pucks. But it was the Blues’ (suddenly red-hot) power play that bailed them out. David Perron let a shot fly from the left wing, David Backes got a stick on it, and it snuck through the legs of Jonas Hiller. The Blues tied the game at 11:38 of the 2nd.

It was still tied heading into the 3rd. Early in the 3rd, the speedy Andy McDonald sped into the offensive zone, had a give-and-go with Ian Cole, and then fired a pass right onto Patrick Berglund’s stick, which poked the puck through Hiller’s 5-hole for a lead.

The Blues put the game away with another power-play goal 2:01 later, when Kevin Shattenkirk took the face-off, got the puck through traffic, and into the back of the net.

The Blues moved to–brace yourselves–35-0-0 when they score at least 3 goals. The penalty kill has killed off 35 consecutive penalties. And in their last 24 home games, the Blues are 20-1-3. Those stats tell the story.

The Blues are in first place in the entire league at 43-18-7. The next two are a home and home against the last place Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and Sunday.

Talkin’ Pucks-Trade Deadline Special (February 27)

February 27-FULL SHOW

This week’s guest: Kevin Lorenz

SEGMENT 1-Kevin Lorenz

InsideSTL Blues’ writer Kevin Lorenz joins the program to talk about deadline deals; Ben Bishop is being sent to Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, that’s surprising; Blues’ ownership situation is a lot worse than people think; CBJ simply wanted too much for Nash; Nashville didn’t make any sense; Seems like Rangers did all they could to land Nash; Preds are good, but not good enough to knock off Detroit; What’s going on in Minnesota?; Rank your three deadline winners

Kevin was kind enough to give Talkin’ Pucks/HSB a plug Tuesday night during his appearance on The Joe Roderick Show on Team 1380. You can listen to that clip here!

SEGMENT 2Blues Talk

Happy birthday Trevor!; Blues did exactly what everyone thought they would…nothing; Ben Bishop is going to the AHL; I guess it doesn’t matter to us anymore; Is the ownership situation that bad?; All NHL teams lower revenue numbers because of pending labor negotiations;

SEGMENT 3-NHL Talk

Trevor and Brian break down the major moves from Monday’s trade deadline

Talkin’ Pucks-Trade Deadline Special (February 27)

February 27-FULL SHOW

This week’s guest: Kevin Lorenz

SEGMENT 1-Kevin Lorenz

InsideSTL Blues’ writer Kevin Lorenz joins the program to talk about deadline deals; Ben Bishop is being sent to Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, that’s surprising; Blues’ ownership situation is a lot worse than people think; CBJ simply wanted too much for Nash; Nashville didn’t make any sense; Seems like Rangers did all they could to land Nash; Preds are good, but not good enough to knock off Detroit; What’s going on in Minnesota?; Rank your three deadline winners

Kevin was kind enough to give Talkin’ Pucks/HSB a plug Tuesday night during his appearance on The Joe Roderick Show on Team 1380. You can listen to that clip here!

SEGMENT 2Blues Talk

Happy birthday Trevor!; Blues did exactly what everyone thought they would…nothing; Ben Bishop is going to the AHL; I guess it doesn’t matter to us anymore; Is the ownership situation that bad?; All NHL teams lower revenue numbers because of pending labor negotiations;

SEGMENT 3-NHL Talk

Trevor and Brian break down the major moves from Monday’s trade deadline