The Detroit Red Wings may have moved to the Eastern Conference but, make no mistake, they are still a chief rival of the St. Louis Blues. That fact was very evident in the two team’s first meeting of 2015-16. Despite the reality that these teams only meet twice in a year, there are still enough players remaining from when they were division foes and they plain don’t like each other.
In this one, the game opened up like a classic boxing match with both the Red Wings and Blues trading chances, hitting passes and just playing free-flowing, exciting hockey. Both teams scored a pair of goals and both goaltenders made quality saves. It was a sight to behold. It was the kind of period that the NHL would love to have as a poster child for what they want rivalries to be.
While second and third periods were not as open, they still embodied those old Central division matchups. It was gritty, hard-nosed hockey where the teams were mucking it up in the corners and fighting for every loose puck. Body checks were plentiful and both sides managed to stay out of the box for much of the game. A completely different style than the first, but still a great example of what the league would want showcased. Unfortunately for St. Louis, they didn’t come out of the second period or the contest on top.
The Blues continue to rely too much on Vladimir Tarasenko and Jake Allen. That theory was made crystal clear after the game with Detroit. If not for Allen, the game would have been far out of reach instead of going into overtime. If not for Tarasenko’s knack for scoring the timely goal, the game would have been over in regulation.
St. Louis, as pointed out after their last game, continues to struggle against Eastern Conference teams. It’s great that the team gets top performances from their key players, like Allen and Tarasenko, in rivalry games. It’s good that the team got a point. However, the Blues need to start getting more than just moral victories against rivals even if they are no longer in the same division.