As much as some out there would love to keep talking about a game that happened almost a week ago now (and why wouldn't anyone want to listen to Jack Edwards? After all, he should be respected for all that hard work in earning that Stanley Cup ring, right?), sane hockey fans realize that tonight is a big game. The St. Louis Blues went from one game under .500 when they fired coach Davis Payne to an absolute juggernaut since Ken Hitchcock took over, losing just 5 in regulation since then. We knew that eventually the rebuild in St. Louis would start to kick in, but who saw Brian Elliot being the goaltending story of the NHL season so far? The Blues are a team that has a very underrated rivalry with the Canucks, and it seems that no matter how good the Canucks are playing, the Blues find a way to get them to unravel.
They've won 4 straight, and they're doing it in classic Hitchcock style. No, it doesn't involve birds or stabbings in the shower, but responsible defensive play, a couple goalies playing some damn good hockey and balanced scoring from their core of youngsters and veterans alike. They may not be able to go run and gun with teams like the Canucks, so we will see them try their best to bog down the Canucks speed as much as possible tonight. Add in the level of distaste for each other these teams have that dates back to the 2009 playoffs, and these games always have a level on animosity that outweighs the sometimes boring style they can play under Hitchcock. It's not an insult, especially when it's as effective as it's been. Growing up in Kamloops, I have tremendous respect for Hitchcock and his abilities as a coach, and hearing that he's worked on changing his style to avoid his issues of players tuning him out (like they have in all his previous head coaching jobs in the NHL) is a positive thing for sure.
If there's some good news for the Canucks tonight, it's that two of the Blues' notorious thorns won't be in Vancouver's sides tonight. Both Barrett Jackman and Alexander Steen will be out of the lineup. Jackman is rugged dman who has always found ways to get under the Canucks skin, and Steen has really enjoyed lighting up the Canucks of late. The last couple games have seen some pretty uneven efforts from the Canucks, but they did show some signs of life against Tampa. What would be nice would be the Daniel and Henrik Sedin getting back to their normal Sedinery. They've been downright dreadful the last couple games, but I expect them to bounce back tonight, especially after the news that they, along with Alex Edler and Cody Hodgson will be going to the All Star Game. It's no surprise they will be there, but I am thrilled to see Edler finally get some recognition as an emerging star on defence.
Not a big fan of the All Star Game apart from the skills competition, but the fact that the NHL is not including Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom is disappointing. Both players asked for the time off. So victory is Corey Perry's, I guess? The attention being paid to Sports Illustrated's list of 'most overrated NHL'ers' that came out earlier this week. An anonymous poll of 165 NHL players comes out and we're supposed to take this seriously? It reads more like a list compiled by a bunch of bitchy teenage girls, reeking of jealousy. Say what you will about Dion Phaneuf, but he's been solid as a rock for Toronto this season. SI looks foolish for putting this garbage out. What's next: A poll on who has the dreamiest eyes? Stop acting like Teen Beat. Don't you have am inconsequential basketball game to report on? Kudos to Dustin Penner for not only being a good sport about the whole #Pennercakes thing, but turning it into a positive thing. He's selling tickets for charity that will allow the winner to have a pancake breakfast with him. Hockey players rule.
CLASSIC METAL SONG OF THE DAY
It was a comeback album of sorts for them after the disappointing 'So Far, So Good... So What', and it stands out as one of the best metal albums of the 90's. Rust In Peace is an absolute beast of an album, with Megadeth at their finest, blistering technical thrash and some of Dave Mustaine's most acerbic lyrics to date. Not a weak track on this one, and some damn fine videos to boot. A good chunk of this disc makes up their live show over 20 years later, further proof that it may be their finest hour. Here's my favorite track from 'RIP', Tornado Of Souls.