Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Picking Up Steam in Stretch Trap Closes on Detroit during Push for Playoffs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Picking Up Steam in Stretch Trap Closes on Detroit during Push for Playoffs

Article excerpt

Brendan Shanahan classified the 1-1 tie between the Blues and the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena as "an April Fool's joke."

And the joke was on the Red Wings.

With a playoff spot at stake, the Blues played their trapping system to perfection, shutting down the middle of the ice, knocking down passes, creating neutral-zone turnovers and generally frustrating a team with nothing for which to play. Detroit is locked in third place in the Western Conference, with a record of 36-24-16 for 88 points. The Red Wings won't move up or down. The Blues, meanwhile, could finish anywhere from fourth to ninth. They're 33-34-10 for 76 points. "Fourth is in our minds, but we'd be really happy to put some distance between us and the ninth-place team," coach Joel Quenneville said. That would be Calgary. If the Blues string together strong performances like the past two games, moving ahead should be no problem. The Blues picked up against Detroit where they had left off in their 3-2 victory against Philadelphia on Sunday. "We showed that if we play hard, we're capable of beating anybody," Joe Murphy said. Best of all, the Blues played the crucial third period against Philadelphia and the entire game on Tuesday without leading scorer Brett Hull. Hull suffered a serious groin pull and left the Philadelphia game with eight minutes remaining in the second period. He did not travel to Detroit with the team. The Blues also missed hard-working center Craig Conroy, who left the game after suffering a mild concussion eight seconds into the second period. Detroit defenseman Slava Fetisov leveled Conroy with a shoulder to the face on a neutral-zone hit. Referee Paul Stewart penalized Fetisov for charging. "We certainly miss what Hullie brings to the team, and Conroy certainly gets a lot of ice time," Quenneville said. "We missed his intensity and speed, but we found a way to get the point. We'll take the point. We worked hard and did a lot of good things." The Blues limited Detroit to only three shots in the first period and nine through two periods before the Red Wings woke up and decided to play the third. They pressured the Blues and goalie Grant Fuhr. …

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