Reaction: Blues Drop Opener 4-2
The Blues opened their season tonight with a bang ... before ending the night with a thud. What follows are my collection of thoughts / opinions from the pregame intro to the final horn.
Typically I'd start an article off with the action that occurs inside
the Scottrade but this one is worth noting for all fans. My typical go-to parking spot around the Scottrade is in the parking garage a block to the right of the building, if you're facing the main entrance head on. Last season parking here cost $10, a more than fair price given the other prices being asked from other lots and the ease of getting in and out in a very timely manner.
Tonight the price was $20. I can only hope this was an elevated price for opening night and not the new regular cost. If it is, that's pretty outrageous and I'd recommend fans find an alternative location.
One Odd Intro
On to matters occurring within the building.
As the game drew closer the building seemed mostly ... quiet. All the way to the 10-second countdown the majority of fans seemed quieter than usual, especially given the fact it was the first meaningful game we've seen in months. Did the Cardinals leave everyone "cheered out" last night? I'm not ruling it out.
Then there's the intro itself where my best description was: "What the hell am I watching?"
Following the countdown, an unfamiliar voice instructed the Blues fans must exercise to be ready for the game. Louie, the team's mascot, made his way to the ice followed by the usual quartet of skaters that carry large, yellow Blues flags. Then there were the guys in blue/yellow spandex ... yes, spandex. As if paying tribute to the Green Men in Vancouver, these spandexed individuals positioned themselves around the ice complete with glowing wands that might have been borrowed from Lambert Airport earlier today.
Sheets unfolded from the ceiling allowing for some cool visuals to be displayed high above everyone's head.
Then the "exercise" started.
Everyone stand up. OK, so far so good.
Everyone put your arms in the air. OK, sort of pointless but I'll bite.
Everyone bob your head. What? You mean like "Night at the Roxbury"? Pass. (Note: each exercise included enormous visuals on the previously mentioned sheets - frightening in a way)
Everyone pump your first. Now we're just making those from Jersey happy.
Now you are ready for Blues hockey.
Ohhhhh...I get it. Wait, what?
Moving on ... the player intros were nicely done with graphics, laser lights and plenty of blue and yellow. Thankfully the spandex brigade made themselves scarce.
The Blues struck relatively early with the team's most exciting line consisting of Patrik Berglund, TJ Oshie and Chris Stewart causing the damage (More on this later). Add in a fight in which Ryan Reaves tallied a KO, the Blues appeared to be in business.
Unfortunately, the rest of the night didn't follow the same track.
It's only the first game but it is worth noting the team's penalty killing unit needs some work. Two of Nashville's four goals came with the man advantage. Numerous times the Blues had a chance to clear their zone only to fail in getting the puck out. Credit goes to Nashville on keeping the puck in, but the Blues definitely didn't make it look like clearing the zone was a priority.
Granted, the officiating didn't do the Blues any favors by calling a pretty foolish delay of game call that led to Nashville's second goal, but still, the Blues need to stand tall and possibly try some different combinations on the PK.
I was hoping Halak would post a strong and powerful performance in his first start of 2011-12. What I received was a worrisome performance that sums up the gripes I had about him all last season.
Nashville's first goal: Halak fails to control the rebound off a blast from the blueline, Nashville pounces on the rebound while Halak is left on his face.
Nashville's second goal: I won't fault him too much here. The puck hit plenty of bodies and changed directions plenty. I'll write this one off.
Nashville's third goal: Brutal. Just brutal. The Blues tally their second goal of the game to level the contest. The building is the loudest it had been all night. Just over one minute later and one quick wrist shot from Nashville's Kevin Klein and the Predators retake the lead.
Whenever I've analyzed Jaroslav Halak I've mentioned how to date he has failed to take on the role of a true number one goaltender. One that can rise to the occasion and make a save when his team needs him most. Well, this was that moment. After surging back, Halak reacted slowly and missed a shot he likely could have had (at least from my view).
A fantastic example of what a number one goaltender should look like was at the other end of the ice in Nashville's Pekka Rinne. Simply outstanding performance by him.
Halak's line for tonight's game was pretty ugly. Twelve saves on 15 shots which equates to a save percentage of .800. Yikes.
I know it's just one game but Halak already has me nervous for the year ahead unless he can suddenly start keeping pucks out in those critical situations.
This line oozes creativity and excitement. Each time they were out on the ice it felt like the Blues could score at any moment. This praise even comes on a night where Chris Stewart remained mostly quiet, save his delay of game "penalty".
If this group sticks together it could be a joy following all year long.
- It's great having hockey back even if the Blues did stumble in Game 1.
- No sign of the team's slogan of "Don't Stop Believing", which I'd consider a win.
- Great ovation for David Perron prior to the game.
- Similar great ovation for the small tribute to those involved in the Lokomotiv crash. RIP Pavol Demitra.
- If Nashville is any indication, the Central will be just as tough as ever.