Blues 4 Avalanche 1
Stanley Cup Favorites? Who?
Prior to puck drop, the only thing you heard about the St Louis Blues taking on the Colorado Avalanche was how good the Avs are. The Vegas oddsmakers overwhelmingly picked the Avalanche to hoist the Cup.
This is why they do not play the games on paper. Soon after the puck hit the ice it was apparent the only ones who had not written the Blues off were the Blues. The Notes were ready, and they were not buying anything written about the Avalanche. The Blues clogged the middle of the ice all night.
At one point during the second period, the National (anyone but the) Blues Network highlighted how Nathan MacKinnon squeezed his way through three Blues only to be stifled at the net. The network highlighted MacKinnon’s skill. Not the Blues game plan. Mackinnon, a perennial hart trophy candidate, was able to get off four shots but none of them were quality chances.
The Avalanche were almost never able to enter the offensive zone untouched. Each and every trip there were white jerseys everywhere. Led by the stellar play of newly minted Captain Ryan O’Reilly, the Blues stormed the neutral zone. The Blues put on a clinic in how to stop a skill laden team such as the Avalanche.
Jordan Binnington one of the question marks coming into this opening night was perfect everywhere but the score sheet. Stopping 26 of 27 shots.
At the 4:43 mark, Sammy Blais was whistled for a questionable elbowing penalty. Just 12 seconds into the 2-minute minor, on what could only be considered a funky play the puck meandered across the ice and found the stick of Andre Burakovsky. He let loose what could be called a one-timer that had eyes and beat “Binner.”
The first thought was the Blues were overmatched. That was not the case. The Blues and “Binner” buckled down and took control of the game.
Blues Centerman Robert Thomas left his mark on this game and the league. Thomas showed off his unique vision twice. Both times Oskar Sundqvist was the recipient hitting the twine.
The first time this happened was at 9:29 of the first and tied the game.
The second occurrence happened in the third giving the Blues a 4-1 lead.
With the score tied at one in the first, Jordan Kyrou, getting a chance to play because the Blues second big offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman was not cleared to play due to a visa issue. Kyrou was able to hold the puck in the zone and making a sweet tic-tac-toe pass to Tyler Bozak in front of the net. Bozak sent it back to Kyrou. He did not miss.
The period ended with the Blues taking 17 shots while only allowing 5.
The second period saw the script get flipped. The Avalanche managed to pepper Binnington with 15 shots. All stopped by the netminder. The second also saw the Avalanche try to use their skill only to be frustrated by the Blue Note.
The best birthday presents are the ones you give to yourself. New Blue and Forth line center Kyle Clifford learned that in the third when he buried a shot on his 30th birthday and first game wearing the Note.
"All I want for my birthday is my first goal as a Blue." – Kyle Clifford, probably pic.twitter.com/ejOwwHf8mQ— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 14, 2021
The Avalanche were embarrassed by the Blues on the 25th Anniversary celebration of the team leaving Quebec and arriving in Denver.
Goalie Phillip Grubauer did not look elite. Going 28-32 and looking out of sorts on all four tallies by the visitors.
These two teams will meet again on Friday night.
The Avalanche should bounce back but expect the Note to be ready and use the same formula that won this game.
Doug Armstrong, I think they trusted the system.
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing