Blues 3 – Canucks 1: A Gritty Win
This is the type of play Blues fans had hoped to see all season long. A hard fought win where the Blues did all the little things right was the story last night as the team skated to an important 3-1 victory against the Canucks. Finally the Blues appeared to skate with passion and a purpose and finally they skated like a club who knows how to win. David Backes led the charge with two goals and Keith “Walt” Tkachuk added the third as Ty Conklin picked up his sixth win of the season.
Vancouver marked the first test on a very tough stretch of games for the Blues. With very little time to rest this week, the Blues skate four times against talented northern opponents.
Last night the foe was Vancouver, and I think it is safe to say that Blues’ fans held their collective breath following another disappointing loss at home to Tampa Bay. Much to their (and my) joy, the Blues came out grinding and never let off the gas until the final horn sounded.
David Backes started the scoring by tipping in a Paul Kariya shot with a swing of his stick which looked like something straight out of a Cardinals game. The Note were outshot 14-8 in the first period and the Canucks were finally rewarded with under three minutes to go as Shane O’Brien tallied his first goal since the 2007-08 season. Here is where the Blues have usually packed it in and gone on to defeat. Here is where the team would start getting outworked and hemmed in and would begin to start making errant passes.
Not this time. Following Vancouver leveling the contest, the Blues kept at it, chipping away and working hard along the boards. Twelve minutes in to the second period saw the Blues jump to a lead through a remarkable individual effort from Backes as he scored his second of the night. He used his speed and size to zip around the defense and cut in front of Roberto Luongo to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead.
The hard work continued and following a flukey bounce of the boards, Brad Boyes set up Keith Tkachuk to make the game 3-1 just a couple minutes later.
The third period saw no scoring as Ty Conklin stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced. Clearly, Conks is not only a backup you can rely on but is perfectly capable of splitting the starts if Chris Mason struggles. Conklin should see more time soon given the Blues crowded schedule, and if he continues to play as well as he did last night the Blues should be competitive in each matchup.
Not only did this win start the road trip off right, but it also gave the Blues a lift in the standings – something we haven’t been able to say in a while. With their two points last night, the Blues crawled to 4th in the Central Division, surpassing the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets. In the bigger picture, the Blues moved to 12th in the West with 35 points in 34 games. With games in hand over everyone aside from first place Chicago, the Blues need to make the most of their games ahead.
This team has not looked like a playoff team nor has it given fans much to cheer about lately, but the reality is that the Blues are still just six points removed from the playoffs. The hard part lies in the fact multiple teams seperate the Blues from their goal, and it will be tough to surpass all of them when all is said and done.
Next up for the team is another road battle. This time the Blues have a chance for revenge against the Edmonton Oilers, the side that blasted us with five goals in the third period not long ago.