Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
[FONT="Verdana"][SIZE="2"]The NHL All-Star Break seems to have done the Blues some good. It was a rough few days without the men in action, but they pulled out the stops for their first game back. The boys won 3-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs after their hockey-less days. Hanging onto that momentum, they pulled out a 1-0 shutout against reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I must say, that was a phenomenal victory. I had the privilege of being at that game and the energy was invigorating. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever attended and also the first shootout I have witnessed in person. Unfortunately, they broke the (short) winning streak and suffered a tough 6-4 loss on Saturday against Coach Q’s Colorado Avalanche.
Coach Andy Murray is switching up Barret Jackman’s defensive line since Jackman’s defensive partner, Christian Backman, has been placed on the injured reserve with a cracked left foot. He is expected to be out for 1-2 weeks. As terrible as it sounds, I see this as a good thing. I have not been impressed with Backman this season and I think that it is time for one of our many good defensemen to have a shot. (No pun intended.) It was announced that the Blues have recalled Jeff Woywitka from the Peoria Rivermen to take Backman’s place. This thrills me because I am a huge Woywitka fan. (And no, it is not just because of his fun name.) (Even though it is pretty cool.) I have liked Woywitka’s game play in previous Blues’ seasons and I think he will bring a fresh energy to the team. He has almost three times as many points with the Rivermen as Backman has for the Blues. Plus, Woywitka will have something to prove and a possible position as an NHL defenseman for which to strive.
Another point I would like to discuss is Manny Legace. I know I mention Legace a lot – okay, in almost every post – but I think he deserves all the credit he can get. Granted, his game on Saturday was far from stellar, but he did play back-to-back games – something that is not usually done to goaltenders. Toivonen could have easily been placed between the pipes, but because of Legace’s outstanding record against Colorado, it was an obvious decision for Murray to go with Legace. Since the Colorado game was disheartening, I am choosing not to dwell on it and am instead going to focus on Legace’s bad-assness that was showcased on Friday night against the Ducks. He blocked all 30 shots he faced, plus two shots in the shootout. If it wasn’t for Legace, the Blues could have easily lost the game. Legace presented his near acrobatic goaltending skills with fluidity, proving why he was chosen to play in the NHL All-Star game. To have the presence of mind to wrap his puck-laden glove around the goalpost as he is being shoved into the net, preventing the puck from ever crossing over, takes an enormous amount of skill. So many times I have watched a game and said, “I can do better than that.” Not that time, my friends. Not that time.