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I, obviously, watch a lot of Blues hockey – I think I’ve missed watching maybe one – possibly two – games this season, and schlepped all the way up to Nashville to catch a game. The more I watch, the more of an interesting trend I’m seeing: they frustrate the opposition. In the past they’ve frustrated them because of hits and physicality, but this season they’ve combined it with skill and good hockey, which drives other teams nuts. I take the fact that teams are having to step it up against the Blues as a compliment, frankly, because it means that the team’s getting better.
Come to think of it, it’s pretty obvious why Jackman irritates the Red Wings.
I’ve noticed that one of the (though not the only one) players who have been on other teams’ radars fairly often recently is Barret Jackman. The former Calder winner has only played with the Blues in his NHL career, and has successfully transformed himself from a shut-down guy in the era of clutch-and-grab to a responsible stay-at-homer whose solid play allows Kevin Shattenkirk to roam all over God’s creation. Shattenkirk has notched 22 points this season and is a +16 because he’s allowed to be the offensive defenseman that he needs to be. Jackman himself has six assists and is a +12.
Of course, Sir Jaxx when he’s not busy being awesome or being yelled at by drunk women in the cheap seats, is super busy annoying and shutting down the other team. This can get frustrating, as has been evidenced by these hits via…
Pavel Datsyuk (!?!):
Link forthcoming when I can find it – check back about 7:00 tonight if you care/didn’t see the hit when it happened.
By no means am I insinuating these hits are dirty (ok, I’ll flat out say that the Datsyuk elbow to the face and the Eager hit to the head were but the Subban one was just a massive hit), but why? Is Jackman an easy target? Not really, though he was all by his lonesome near the boards for the Subban smash, from which he returned to the bench but not to the game. He also looked extremely unhappy while sitting on the bench, so that says something to the strength of the check.
Datsyuk’s high hit? Yup. Frustrated. Maybe against the Blues’ physicality, probably against Ian Cole – whatever the reason, Jackman was under his skin and made Dats do something stupid in retalliation that should have been called a penalty. Eager’s hit is vintage Ben Eager. He tends to hit high, or at the very least hit an opponent to where a penalty gets called against him. He’s also an agitator who I very much dislike, so take that as a bit of a disclaimer. He nailed Jaxx for two reasons: Jackman was nearby with a pulse, and because Jackman was making it tough for the Edmonton forwards to get a clear position in front of the goal (at that time). What happens to irritating opposition players who haven’t done anything illegal? Boom. At least it wasn’t a sucker punch this time. Seems he learned his lesson.
Anywho, my point here is this: if Jackman weren’t doing his job, this wouldn’t happen. Jackman haters can keep on hating – you have to have someone to yell at since Eric Brewer left – but apparently other teams and their players disagree with you.