Power play must improve; Janssen to miss at least two weeks
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues' 2-1 overtime victory over Philadelphia was filled with plenty positive results for the home squad. Solid goaltending, stingy defense and a solid forecheck in the offensive zone just naming a few.
But one just one game into a grueling 82-game schedule, the Blues (1-0-0) would like to do some tweaking to the man advantage. On Saturday, it was substandard, to say the least.
"Not really pleased with it," Blues coach Davis Payne said after seeing his side go 1-for-10. "We got the one 5 on 3. Good decision to shoot a puck, but our execution against their pressure was something that we feel we should have handled a little bit better. The pressure mounted as the game went on because their pressure was successful. We had to put pucks into different areas as opposed to playing into the pressure. We had to play back through it finding some release areas and get ourselves into position to work.
"I don't think we had the shot intention. I thought we passed up some opportunities to allow people to the net to find the seam and allow traffic to work for us."
As Payne mentioned, the Blues did get one with the man advantage, Brad Boyes' deflection off Erik Johnson's one-timer. But as the power plays mounted, it seems the Blues -- 20th in the league a season ago with the man advantage -- were in that hesitancy mode of shooting the puck when the opportunity presented itself.
"Obviously we need a tweak," said left winger Alex Steen, who assisted on both Blues' goals. "Carlo (Colaiacovo's) been hurt a lot in training camp and we haven't been able to gel with him. There's some timing issues. We're not shooting the puck as much as we should have (Saturday), but in saying that, I thought they sat pretty hard on the two of us up top. We've got to try and generate something a little bit different when the teams are sitting on us like that. ... We'll re-adjust it for the next game.
"I thought the power play was alright at times. I thought there's a small margin of error and we weren't there. I had a couple myself. It's not good enough. We were able to get a win today, which feels good but obviously that's something we have to look at."
* Halak solid to start -- Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak received the loudest ovation during player introductions Saturday night. The only thing he could do was repay the fans with a solid effort.
Halak stopped 29 of 30 shots, only allowing a Daniel Briere third period goal and gaining a measure of revenge against a Flyers team that eliminated Halak and the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final a season ago.
"It's great to win the first game, home opener," Halak said. "The fans were great tonight. I was really surprised by them. It was a great atmosphere."
Said Payne, "He was extremely solid. I thought when we made mistakes, especially on rush opportunities, he was big (and) made saves."
* Boyes on pace for 82? -- Scoring a goal in your first game typically brings out the cliche of being on pace to score in every game.
For Boyes, Just getting into a groove and becoming a consistent scorer is all the Blues winger is concerned with and playing a good team game.
"That's what I love doing, that's what I'm here to do," Boyes said. "At home, we had a great crowd, a great start. It's a big win.
"I think for the most part we played in their end. We had chances. We controlled the puck. That's something that's huge for us. That's something we work on a lot is controlling that puck in the zone, getting a cycle going. They kind of stymie you pretty well down low, but we get more pucks to the net, jam plays, things like that."
* Hullie praises Blues, likes team's direction -- Former Blue great Brett Hull knows a thing or two about winning a Stanley Cup.
He may have put up his greatest numbers wearing the Bluenote, but he went on to win a pair of rings with Dallas and Detroit.
So for Hull, who was in town Saturday for the unveiling of his statue alongside Al MacInnis and Bernie Federko, he says the team is headed where it needs to be.
"They're doing everything the right way to build a championship team and they're going in the right way," Hull said. "That's all I think the fans really want to see and they'll come out and support.
"First of all, you can't win without a goalie. They gave up a heck of a young player to get Halak. That shows they know what they're doing, because you can't win without a goalie. Obviously, they've got great young defensemen and great, young skilled forwards. Let them all grow up together and mature. Add pieces here and there that you think are necessary. That's how you win, because you look at Pittsburgh and Chicago, those teams were dead-last in the NHL and then won Stanley Cups. St. Louis is way beyond that."
* Janssen to miss two weeks -- Blues enforcer Cam Janssen became the first casualty to the in-season injury bug and will miss at least two weeks after a hard collision with teammate Brad Winchester in the second period Saturday night.
Janssen, who along with Winchester were trying to get a hit on Flyers defenseman Oskars Bartulis, but Winchester inadvertently caught Janssen with an elbow sending Janssen hard to the ice.
Payne said Sunday Janssen, who hit his head hard on the ice, suffered a concussion and a sternum contusion. He was held overnight at the hospital for observation.
"It looked like two trains coming down the track and (Bartulis) was able to jump off the bridge," Payne said. "I think it was a combination of the hit, the stick (and) a little bit of the ice," Payne said. "It was a pretty hefty collision there."
The club recalled forward Ryan Reaves from Peoria Sunday afternoon and he will be in the lineup when the Blues host Anaheim (0-2-0) today in a 1 p.m. matinee on Columbus Day.
* Anniversary of first goal in franchise history in 1967 -- Today's date marks the 43rd anniversary of the first goal scored in Blues history, and the club will honor the man that scored it in a pre-game ceremony: Larry Keenan.
"It's something that will always be there, that can't be broken," said Keenan, 70. "It's an honor to be invited for the anniversary, and I think it's just great that my family sees this."
Blues legend Bob Plager assisted on the goal.
"We've got different versions of it," Keenan said. "I tell people that I went end-to-end, and he tells people that he made the play, or I wouldn't have scored. Probably both of us are lying, but he did get the assist."
Keenan said has the puck and it rests on his mantle at his home in North Bay, California, near San Francisco.
"One of my kids will get it," he said. "They get everything else."