Last night a streak ended for the St. Louis Blues, and right as you read that, you brace for impact. You expect to read a news story that relates to the Blues finishing the game on the losing end. That, however, was not the case Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues took to the ice at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, in search of their fifth straight win and fourth shutout in a row. Just 1:40 into the first period, Alexander Steen, playing in his first game after missing the last 15 due to an upper-body injury, ripped a slap shot from the point, that David Backes (who was screening in front) got a piece of and sent it into the back of the net.
Late in the first period, the Blues saw one of the aforementioned streaks of theirs come to an end. Mikhail Grigorenko tapped in the puck into an open net, a shot that Blues goaltender Brian Elliott had no chance. The shot was the first successful one against St. Louis since March 16th. The shutout streak ended for St. Louis at 258 minutes and 29 seconds and snapped Elliott’s shutout streak at 198:12.
How often do you see fans stand up and applaud their goalie after just giving up a goal? Not often at all, but that’s exactly what Blues’ fans did last night, as Scottrade Center serenaded Elliott with the “Moooooosssseeee” cheer as fans rose to their feet and applauded.
Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal in the second period, off a pass that was an absolute dandy from Paul Stastny. Vladimir Tarasenko added an insurance goal off a turnover in the Colorado zone and the score would remain unchanged for the rest of the game. St. Louis was able to secure their fifth victory in as many games and remain tied for first in the conference with the Dallas Stars, who defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2 yesterday. However, on a side note, the win would prove costly for St. Louis. After about two minutes of play in the third period, rookie Robby Fabbri went down awkwardly after being cross-checked by Jack Skille and appeared to have injured his left ankle. St. Louis is currently awaiting word on his injury. Losing Fabbri would be a tremendous blow for St. Louis as the rookie has been absolutely sensational from play making, to puck passing, to defense, to discipline, to scoring. Hold your breath, St. Louis.
Now, St. Louis has clinched a playoff berth and I must say that there’s nothing like playoff hockey. The intensity that it brings to teams and fans is indescribable.
However, Blues fans are all too familiar with how elimination feels in the postseason, especially in the first round. In the past three years, St. Louis has been a first round exit, falling at the hands of teams such as Minnesota, Los Angeles and Chicago. A team that is primed to make a run and deliver the first Stanley Cup championship to the Gateway to the West all of a sudden is a no-show in the playoffs. It’s been just a reoccurring scenario year after year to the point where Blues fans almost expect it and always keep it in the back of their minds.
The team this year has a some rookies and is young, but at the same time they are very well-rounded. The goaltending duo of Elliott and Allen is about as good a duo as you can find in the NHL, and having two high-caliber goalies certainly pays its dividends. However, what we’ve seen in the regular season doesn’t matter at all come playoff time. One thing is for sure, St. Louis fans are excited for the postseason, but haven’t forgotten all the heartbreak they’ve endured in previous years. They’ve been victimized too often in these past few years by a team that’s likely worthy of the President’s Trophy some years, and then forgetting everything in the playoffs.
So, how far will St. Louis go this year? What lines will coach Ken Hitchcock put together? What’s the status of Fabbri’s injury? Will Steve Ott be back for the playoffs? And, who will start in goal for St. Louis in the first game of round one? Stay tuned.