The St. Louis Blues played one of their best games of the season on Friday night against the Nashville Predators. The 6-2 victory featured the Blues finishing their checks, disrupting the opposing forwards in the neutral zone and sticking up for one another. Summarized, they did everything they need to do to find success in the NHL.
In the opening period the Blues finished more checks than they have all season long – combined. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. It was refreshing to watch the Blues step through players rather than around them. Instead of freely giving up time and space, the Blues punished the Predators along the boards. Best of all, some of the biggest checks came from some unlikely sources – Alex Pietrangelo for instance.
The Blues also did a great job around the blue lines, both in their own zone and in the attacking zone. They made it tough for the Predators to gain the blue line by standing tall along it, knocking people around and forcing mistakes. On offense, they did a great job of winning the blue line either cleanly or by getting the puck in deep and actually winning it back.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact the Blues actually stood up for one another. When things started getting a bit chippy, the Blues rushed in to help their teammate. No one was left to battle on their own. That hasn’t been the case this season. The story was that of individuals. Against the Predators it actually looked like a team effort.
Ultimately, it’s just one game and one win. But, it’s a model the Blues can look back at and follow moving forward. It’s a definition of what needs to be done in order to succeed. It’s proof that this team can play at a high level and can be aggressive, physical and a lot of fun to watch.