Four hours doesn’t seem like that long a
length of time. It’s four episodes of Game of Thrones. It’s the time it takes
to drive from Toronto to Ottawa, give or take. Four hours is a double feature,
unless one of the films is a Tarantino production in which case it would be a
one and a half feature. Four hours and 18 seconds is also how long the Saint
Louis Blues have gone without allowing a goal and in the NHL, that’s a lifetime.
Three of the four shutouts were with Brian
Elliot in net but the fourth featured fellow goalie Jake Allen who held off 32
shots from the NHL-leading Washington Capitals. After blanking the Vancouver
Canucks two times and the San Jose Sharks once, Elliot was given a breather,
which gave Allen a shot to get off the bench and keep the streak alive. "It can be
tough a little bit because (Allen has) been watching lately, and obviously
(Elliott) has been playing unbelievable," Blues forward Paul Stastny said.
"These guys have found a way to make it competitive on a good standpoint
that benefits the team."
Blues are only the 11th team to compile such a streak, nobody is
overly focused on it. ''It's a cherry on top,''
Elliott said. ''It's just a bonus. It's all about the wins right now.'' And
those wins are coming at a great time as the team picks up some serious
momentum going into the playoffs. With a spot already clinched, the Blues are
focused like laser beams on the Central Division and the top spot in the
Western Conference. After three straight first-round exits the Blue Note would
love to chalk up some wins in the post-season.
Part of the team’s latest winning trend might be due to a
bevy of key players returning from long absences resulting from injuries. Alternate
Captain Alexander Steen is set to return after being sidelined for 15 games
with an upper-body injury. In addition to Steen, the Blues have seen the return
of players like Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, and Paul Stastny, all of whom
have seen lengthy absences. The team has clicked since their collective return,
winning 10 of their last 12 games. With defensemen Carl Gunnarsson and Jay
Bouwmeester set to return this week things look to improve even further.
While a hot streak like this one is clearly a team effort, there’s
no denying that the performances in goal have set the tone. "When your
goalie's hot, the confidence breathes through the rest of the team,"
Center Kyle Brodziak said. "We're feeling that right now." With
Elliot back in net tonight against the playoff hungry Colorado Avalanche, the St.
Louis Blues hope to keep that confidence going and turn it into playoff
Labels: Michael Quinn