Daily Grind 2.17

A Blues rant, a credit to the UCLA football coach, and a chill-pill for Cardinal nation.

Every game the Blues win is huge. Their 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders was not great, it was important. After losing to the worst team in the NHL on Tuesday, the Blues responded with a lackluster start on home ice, where they own a league best 25-3-4 record.

Just 59 seconds into the hockey game, Frans Nielson netted a fantastic goal. He perfectly placed it top shelf over Brian Elliot’s right shoulder.

Suddenly the Blues came out of their shell.

Here is the point of the article: why does it take so long to break the shell?

Don’t believe me? Listen to Ken Hitchcock reiterate my point:

The Blues are slow out of the gate, and it has to stop. Why can’t this team play with the energy they find after facing some sort of adversity early in the game?

The Blues play a traditional warm-up game with a soccer ball. It might be hard to understand, but essentially, the soccer ball can’t touch the ground, and if the player who last had a chance to keep the ball up can’t, he’s eliminated … It’s like hacky sack with a soccer ball.

Meanwhile, several Islanders were doing more traditional cardio drills to loosen up. Jump rope, plank exercises, agility workouts, I don’t know how to explain them.

The point is that perhaps instead of playing with a damn soccer ball, they ought to focus on the game at stake.

They won’t get away with these lackadaisical starts come playoff time.

However, they won. They won 5-1…and took advantage of an Isles team that learned backup goaltender Al Montoya would start in place of the flu-struck Evengi Nabakov just before puck-drop.

Christian Backman could have scored a hat trick tonight. Of the Blues 26 shots, several were peppered from the blue line and Montoya just failed to locate the puck.

Luckily, Brian Elliott was great. He bailed the Blues out, again. He made critical saves when the score was 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1,and 5-1.

It might sound like I’m ripping the Blues, and I am. They’re escaping with wins, which won’t happen in June.

Quite frankly, the Blues have played 1 solid game in their last 10–against San Jose on Sunday. They are 5-5 in their last 10.

Be positive.

Jason Arnott centering the 2nd line was great to see. Arnott scored in his first game back from a shoulder injury, and his presence on the ice could not be overlooked.

Alex Pietrangelo. 7 points in his last 5 games. He could very well rank as a top 5 defenseman in the NHL, no joke. S-T-U-D.

Brian Elliott improves to 19-5-2 with a 1.66 goals against average. Hockey fan or not, great goaltending is beautiful.

Last say

I’m not trying to be negative, but simply trying to figure out why this team can’t play to their ability during certain stretches of a game. They have talent, they have the coach, they have the goaltending, but they lack the execution.

An 82 game schedule is a grind, but come June, that grind becomes a war. Anybody can win a battle, but a war takes guts. Watch this video to remind oneself of the intensity during the NHL playoffs, and tell me the Blues are mentally tough enough… However, I believe in Hitchcock to get it squared away.

And this is what it could feel like for Blues fans everywhere:

NCAA FB

Jim Mora Jr. is willing to do just about anything to recruit players to UCLA. Last week, he reminded everybody the last time the Atlanta Falcons won a playoff game, he was the head coach. This week, he has Tim Tebow working out with his offensive coordinator on UCLA’s campus. Talk about a smart man. I always appreciated Mora as a coach. He is one of those guys that you love to hate. I wish him nothing but the best at UCLA in his attempt to rebuild a powerhouse.

MLB

On a disappointing note, the New York Mets decided against renewing the contract of former Cardinals broadcaster Wayne Hagin. Hagin is a friend. He gave me my first shot in radio back in middle school. I was the “star of the game” on a Spring Training postgame show–ironically the same day he was blasted by Todd Helton for his comments regarding steroid use. Wayne is genuine. He is greeted with hoards of employees, media, and fans every time he returns to St. Louis. Wayne is a damn good broadcaster. I know this much: what comes around goes around.

Hagin’s call in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS:

Finally, Mike Matheny.

So much has been made of the “big changes” for the Birds. I have as well. The more I think about it though, the less I care. Why? Matheny is a Cardinal. He understands the George Kissell Way. He understands the Cardinals tradition. Matheny is a bright guy. So is Dyar Miller, Derek Lilliquist, Mark McGwire, Jose Oquendo, Lance Berkman, David Freese, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina…I can’t wait.

Thanks for reading.

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