A lot of experts will tell you it's not how you start but how you finish. And that's certainly true.
But somehow it's how you start.
Facing another back-to-back bump in their hectic schedule, with a game in Detroit tonight, the Blues started fast and made it stand up in a 4-1 victory at Nationwide Arena.
As old friend John Davidson (now president of hockey operations for Columbus) looked on, the Blues got first-period goals from Barret Jackman, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko for a 3-0 lead. But the faucet stopped flowing and the visiting Note turned their fortunes over to goaltender Brian Elliott, who stood tall to hold the fort. David Backes added an empty-net goal in the waning seconds.
"We kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit," Jackman said. "We knew they were going to come out harder."
With a 6-1-0 start, the Blues are off to their best jump since going 6-1-0 in 1997-98. But the win did not come nearly as easily as it appeared it might. The Blues out-shot the Blue Jackets 12-6 in the first period, chasing netminder Sergei Bobrovsky from the game.
But the Blue Jackets were a different team afterward, out-shooting the Blues 19-13 the rest of the way. The Blues came into the game leading the NHL in shot differential, out-shooting the opposition by an average of 13.7 shots per game.
"I think the three goals in the first period probably came too easy for us," coach Ken Hitchcock said. " Then we started making puck decisions we haven't made all year. We did the same thing in Dallas. We played a very, very good first period and then got sloppy.
"I think it's a maturing part for our team. We need to learn to play the right way all the time and not look at the score."
The Blues got a quick lead in surprising fashion. To put it another way: you can't stop Barret Jackman, you can only hope contain him.
Blue' fast start stands in win over Columbus
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Feb 1