Blues Fall to Detroit 3-1, Plenty Still to Learn
The St. Louis / Detroit rivalry has reached a new level of intensity. The Blues fell to the Red Wings by a score of 3-1 on Monday night in a game that saw just how much the Blues still have to learn on their road to becoming a true threat in the West. It was an emotional, physical game that saw both sides lose their cool on a regular basis as the game ticked down. The Blues came out flying, disrupting Detroit in the first only to succumb to Detroit's second and third period efforts. This wasn't a pretty loss. The Blues were bested in 40 of the game's 60 minutes. They played without any sense of composure or intelligence, especially when the game was in its last stages. Fans love to chirp about the refs but you won't find that in this post. The mistakes the Blues made and the penalties that followed were more than deserved. It started with Chris Stewart, who stood up for Alex Pietrangelo after Pietrangelo took a big, clean hit from Brad Stuart. Stewart hopped off the bench and made his way immediate for Stuart, making it clear he had no intention of playing the puck and immediately challenged Stuart to a fight. It was a fight Stewart clearly one but it was also one that earned him a 10-minute misconduct as well as a 2-minute instigator penalty. Detroit power play. Detroit goal. Late in the third, with the Blues still trying to even their 2-1 deficit, Pietrangelo again received a big hit this time by Darren Helm. Carlo Colaiacovo placed Helm in a rather awkward, prolonged headlock and received a 2-minute penalty as a result. Detroit power play. Detroit goal. Game over. Really, it's as simple as that. The Blues made two huge mistakes which ended up being the difference tonight. The Blues played a great 20 minutes of hockey. The other 40 should serves as a big teaching lesson for coach Ken Hitchcock. The Blues couldn't take what Detroit brought and were beaten to numerous loose pucks while the Red Wings outmuscled the Blues consistently on the boards. The Red Wings changed their approach and the Blues simply couldn't adapt. The Blues did have their chances. A combination of Jimmy Howard making big saves and the Blues failing to put the puck on frame kept the Red Wings lead safe. This brings us back to the now tiresome debate that the Blues need to bring in someone capable of finishing their chances - something that nearly every team is searching for. Credit goes to Howard but I also place blame on the St. Louis forward inability to capitalize on the chances they do receive. Jaroslav Halak had an outstanding game. He may have allowed three goals but he kept out some shots that he really shouldn't have. He made some absolutely enormous saves and did everything he could to keep his team in it. Unfortunately, the same will and desire didn't exist in front of him. The Blues are a good team. However, they are a team that has a lot of rough areas that have been covered up by success at home against poor teams. Now, on a large stage and on the road against a quality opponent, the areas of weakness shone through. The Blues got rattled and simply lost their cool. Upon losing their cool, they lost two points in Detroit. Until the Blues can figure out how to beat opponents like Detroit in their own rink then the idea of the Blues being a truly elite squad remains elusive. Use this as a teaching/learning point and improve your game because of it. First step towards improving is Tuesday against Pittsburgh.