(HockeySTL)-- A game that featured a lopsided score was thriving with excitement as the Blues and Avalanche faced off on Saturday. The Blues fell 4-0 to Colorado, but the score became almost secondary as tempers boiled over on both sides late in the game.
When the game concluded, there were 167 penalty minutes and 12 misconducts split between the two teams. The Blues were responsible for 99 of the penalty minutes, the Avalanche 68. Almost all of them were earned the hard way, too.
The Blues and Avalanche have started down the path of becoming division rivals; the unofficial start was a game last season when Colorado’s Mark Olver delivered a high hit on Vladimir Tarasenko, which resulted in a concussion for the then-rookie forward. The hit was deemed legal by the NHL, but in the minds of some on the Blues, it wasn’t.
This year, the Avalanche are competing with the Blues for the top spot in the Central Division, and with the two teams having success this year, any game between them will be competitive. But there was more to Saturday’s game than just compete.
Fireworks began to fly when Colorado tough guy, Patrick Bordeleau delivered a high hit on Kevin Shattenkirk, which left the defenseman bleeding and having to leave the ice for repairs. Barret Jackman responded to the hit and went to the penalty box with Bordeleau for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That hit occurred with 12 minutes left in the third period. After the hit, there were 23 penalties called and 12 misconducts handed out.
"'Shatty' goes down, takes one to the face ... .anytime a guy is injured, you stick up for him," said Jackman. "But we carried it probably too far and let our emotions get too high and that's something you can't do.”
Later in the third period, David Backes dropped the gloves against Colorado rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon; both fell to the ice and a punch was never thrown. But Avalanche head coach, Patrick Roy, was none too happy with the Blues’ captain.
“To me, it’s gutless,” said Roy. “It shows what kind of leader he is.”
Backes had his own explanation for the occurrence.
“It’s their player, who he is, going after ‘Shatty’, who he is,” said Backes, referring to Bordeleau’s hit on Shattenkirk. “I dropped my gloves (with MacKinnon) and never threw a punch. It’s frustration and other stuff boiling over.”
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was more worried about his team’s lack of offense than he was about the engagements on the ice. However, he, too, was upset by Bordeleau’s hit on Shattenkirk.
“The League will deal with Bordeleau, so whatever,” said Hitchcock. “They’ll go over all their stuff and decide what they are going to do.
“Down the line, we’ll answer Bordeleau. That’s all the debris around the game, so he will have to fight somebody and we’ll get rid of that debris. If we feel that he went after Shatty, then there will be a response on their defensemen. It's just part of the culture."
Hitchcock had the opportunity to issue a big response to the Avalanche players, but elected to sit enforcer Ryan Reaves late in the game to avoid what would have been an explosion.
"To me, it was more we play tomorrow,” said Hitchcock. “I knew there was going to be a suspension coming (if I sent him out there) because I knew there was going to be something dramatic. It could have been very ugly.”
Probably looking back on it, maybe if you give me a couple days, I'll think differently, but right now, we've got a hockey game to play tomorrow.”
As for Hitchcock’s thoughts on Roy’s comments about Backes, he would have no further sparing with the rookie coach of the Avalanche.
“I’ve done my commenting on him, so he can say whatever he wants,” Hitchcock said. “He always has something to say after every game. I’m worried about my team and the way we play.”