Blues trounce Jackets in St. Louis

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Ohio Jones, May 13, 2006.

  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    CD - COlumbus

    The St. Louis Blues put the boots to a listless Columbus squad last night in St. Louis, thrilling the capacity 21,000 crowd with a 4-0 win.

    For the third (or fourth, depending on how you're counting) game in this series, Columbus got off to a slow start and were dominated in the first period, outshot 14-4. Only through Marint Brodeur's strong play were the Jackets only down 1-0 after 20 minutes, on a goal by Daniel Alfredsson.

    For the second period, it seemed a more spirited Jackets squad showed up, but still they were edged in shots 11-9, and for the first time in these playoffs, they were massively outhit. The physical contests all went in favour of St. Louis, and it showed as the Jackets got progressively more and more frustrated. Columbus began taking sloppy penalties - mostly highsticking - and while their PK was once again flawless, it left their top defensive players tired when 5-on-5 play resumed, resulting in another Blues goal late in the period by Vincent Lecavalier.

    That goal proved to be the backbreaker, and the Jackets never got back in the game, allowing the Blues a 13-7 edge in shots in the third period, and two more goals from Scott Walker and Joe Thornton. Nikolai Khabibulin was never seriously tested, but stayed focused in turning away 20 Jackets shots for the shutout.

    The Jackets' top two lines, which had been among the most dominant in the playoffs to date, were not only shut out, but were each on the ice for two goals against. Henrik Sedin and Chris Gratton's lines yet again proved their worth in their own end, but weren't able to pick up the scoring for the faltering top units.

    "There's no excuse for it", a sombre Mike Modano intoned following the game. "We've just handed them momentum and confience heading into another home game. They played well, but we beat ourselves. There's just no excuse for not showing up, and we didn't show up tonight. We have to be better."

    An obviously agitated Mike Babcock worked to restrain his irritation. "Obviously we can't coast into these games confident that we'll always be able to come back and win it in the second and third periods. We're facing a great team with stars at every position, we took them lightly and we got embarassed. But we'd won 6 (or 7) consecutive games coming into (last night), including 2 (or 3) against this team. We can beat them, we know we can beat them, we just need to be prepared to do the work. I think you'll see a different team next game."

    When asked if the officiating had something to do with the loss, Babcock shook his head. "The officials didn't tell us to drag our feet in the first and third periods. The officials didn't stop our guys from going into the corners. We didn't skate, we didn't hit, we lost. If we got more penalties called against us, we earned them with sloppy play."

    A rueful grin crept across his face. "Heck, the way our special teams are playing, I wish they had given St. Louis more powerplays - we would have stood a better chance of winning the game." This last was obviously a shot across the bow of Modano and Slava Kozlov, whose powerplay units have been inneffectual iagainst the Blues vaunted defence.

    Captain Brendan Shanahan seemed to take the loss personally. "We let Chicago embarass us to start the first round. We came back to win the next four games. We have a lot of pride in this room: we're not going to take this lying down."

    Jackets fans will see tonight.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
     
  2. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Jackets earn coach's wrath in win

    CD - St. Louis

    The Jackets yet again sleep-walked through the first period, outshot 10-3, causing Head Coach Mike Babcock to visibly lose his temper on the bench during the period. Several fans at the Savvis Center complained about the loud invective issuing from the visiting team's dressing room between periods.

    Apparently his players got the message, as the Jackets' powerplay finally woke up, scoring 3 times on 6 chances as the team put away 5 consecutive goals in hte second and third to bury the Blues 5-1.

    "Coach tore strips off us", Philippe Boucher said after. "He had every right: if St. Louis had managed to score in that first frame, I think we would have been done. I don't what it is, why we keep coming out so flat, but we can't count on these kinds of breaks."

    Babcock was more direct: "Where's the @#$^ pride? Who shows up to any game - never mind a playoff game - and proceeds to #$%^&* the dog for the first 20 minutes? And does it every night over the course of a series? It's complete ^&*#$. I don't care what the final score was, these players should be ashamed of themselves."

    Once they finally got going, the Jackets spread the scoring around, with both Mike Modano and Brendan Shanahan earning three assists on different lines. Both players took the previous night's loss rather personally, so it was good to see them picking the team up on their backs. Again the blueline came through, with Boucher, Keith Carney and Mattias Norstrom scoring, while Mike York and Jeremy Roenick also added tallies. Martin Brodeur stopped 22 of 23 shots for the win.

    Matt Walker scored the only goal for St. Louis mid-way through the third, after starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin had already been chased from the net in favour of Mathieu Garon.

    The series now returns to Nationwide Arena, where Columbus will look to finish off the Blues in front of a loyal home crowd.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
     
  3. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Counting Chickens?

    CD - Columbus

    With all the talk these days about playoff leaders counting out their opponents, we wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets, up 3 games to 1 against division rival St. Louis, were confident heading into tonight's game 5 - a game which could see the Jackets advance to the Western Conference final with a win at home.

    "Are you kidding me?", an incredulous Mark Bell said, eyebrows raised. "Maybe I should introduce you to the team we're playing against. Those guys have a ton of skill and experience. I mean, come on - any time you can pull out Vinny Lecavalier as your third-line center, you're going to be a handful. We feel good, we think we've got a good chance, but you just have to look at game 3 to see how dominating their roster can be. Trust me, noone on our bench is looking past tonight."

    Rookie blueliner Joni Pitkanen echoed Bell's comments. "The first time we play them, I am like - look, that's Steve Yzerman. He was past me before I could move. He has won - how many Cups? They even know of Stevie Y in Oulu, where I am from, and mostly they just know the Finnish players. He is a legend, and there are others. Khabibulin in net. Alfredsson, Thornton, Heatley. We have had to fight for every win so far, tonight will be no different. We just have to go out and play our game."

    Veteran pivot Slava Kozlov, himself a holder of multiple cup rings, is perhaps a little harder to impress. "There is much of parity in our league. They have very good team. So do we. They have very big defence. Very tough. Pronger, Hatcher, Witt, Chara. It is difficult to get inside. We have good defence too, they make it difficult for their forwards. Each game, it is the team that works harder that is the winner. So we will work harder."

    Columbus fans may be hoping for a win, but the players are expecting a battle.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
     
  4. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    A tough series, Nick, the number of games notwithstanding. I'm still looking at you as the team to beat in the West next season. Congratulations on a good year, and I look forward to crossing blades with you in 06/07!

    Congratulations also to Greg Dockus' Wild, whose first appearance in the HFNHL playoffs was impressive. Good luck next year Greg.

    Dave - see you in the Western Conference Final!
     

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