Friday, October 17, 2008

Early-Season Excitement

-Wow! What a performance by the guys wearing the Blue Note last night. It's way too early in the season to let our excitement get the best of us. But I think you can say without fear of contradiction that we're seeing a much different club right now than what finished the season back in April.

Last night's 6-1 win over the Dallas Stars...the Stars--not some schmucks pretending to be hockey players...was a blowout in every way. If it had been a little-league baseball game they would have invoked the "mercy rule". If it were a boxing match, it would have been stopped on a TKO in the second round. The Blues were the quicker, more physical, and much more ready-to-play team. Afterward, I found myself thinking about seeing Brett Hull, now GM of the Stars, in the press lounge prior to the game and wondering what must have been going through his mind while watching that "beat down". The StL boys actually could have won the game by a more lopsided score if a few of their early golden chances would have gone in. Stars goalie Marty Turco must have felt like he was in a shooting gallery at times. While The Note didn't outshoot Dallas by a lopsided margin, it seemed they had many more quality chances and quite a few of their shots just missed the goal and didn't count in the totals.

When you can put out a couple of lines with the physicality that the Blues did last night, you're going to keep the opposition looking over it's collective shoulder for sure. Keith Tkachuk and David Backes got some "physical turnovers" that were turned into goals. And you've got D.J. King and Cam Janssen on the "crap-disturber" line making life miserable for the opposition too. Not too many think of the Blues as an overly physical team, and that's OK, because what they think as opposed to what they get sometimes will work to the benefit of Andy Murray. It sure did last night.

So far, you're not seeing a ton of scoring from the new kids. T.J. Oshie is playing quite a bit, as is Patrik Berglund, and not setting the world on fire. But, I still think there's plenty of reason to be excited by the start they're having. Berglund has a goal and a few assists...while Oshie has an assist next to his name after four games. Alex Pietrangelo doesn't have a point in the three games he's played. But the thing is they are putting in quality minutes at the NHL level and none of them looks "out of place". Oshie is getting the defensive end of the game down while playing on the penalty kill. Berglund isn't going to be your number one center this year but is still getting in the mix while acquitting himself well at both ends. Pietrangelo has had a few shaky shifts but for the most part has been quite good. None has been embarassed in any way. That's a major statement for the future of the Blues. The kids are NHL players! And it's just a matter of time before they fulfill their destiny as star players. At least, that's how I view it.

Meanwhile, other young players such as David Perron, David Backes, Roman Polak and Steve Wagner are already solid performers that it appears can be counted on for years to come. So, after four games, we can allow ourselves to be excited about the '08-'09 edition of the Blues. We can't afford to go overboard because, as we know all too well, injuries and other unpredictable things (i.e. today's appendectomy for goalie Chris Mason) tend to happen in sports. But, we can go to the games knowing that A) we'll get a good look at the future, B) we'll get our money's worth, and C) we just might be seeing a team that's time has arrived a little earlier than predicted.

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