What happens when a stoppable force meets with a movable object? Call it the impotent paradox.
It took place on Tuesday at Scottrade Center. Playing their 80th date of an 82-game schedule, the postseason-dormant Blues played host to the Colorado Avalanche, the 29th-ranked team in a 30-team league. You'll forgive the scientific community if it didn't spend time studying the possibilities.
That said, there were infinite subplots and finite sidebars worthy of examination in the Blues' 3-1 victory in front of the 40th sellout of the season.
To begin with, the game had somewhat of a Bizarro World element to it. That is, both teams stood to benefit from a loss. If the Blues, who have won five of their last seven, improve enough in the standings to finish out of the top 10 order of the June draft, they must relinquish their No. 1 pick to the Avalanche as part of the Feb. 19 trade between the teams.
Should the Blues be unsuccessful enough to finish inside the top 10 in drafting order, they have the option of keeping the pick. In other words, where the June draft is concerned, a loss on Tuesday actually represented a win, and vice-versa.
The presence of Colorado also begged for some perspective on the aforementioned, headline-stealing trade. Neither team has flourished in the aftermath. But the players the Blues received from Colorado have thrived in their new surroundings and improved the horizon considerably.
What's more, they helped the Note do something on Tuesday it had not been able to do in two seasons - beat the Avalanche. Colorado had won seven consecutive games against the Blues.
Forward Chris Stewart has 14 goals and 22 points in 24 games for the Blues. He has been as publicized, a power-play force, an immovable object in front of the net.
"Obviously, I came in here and started producing right away, which made the adjustment easier," Stewart said. "But this is a great locker room. We've got lots of big pieces to the puzzle."
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, 22, was not regarded as a primary player in the deal - former Blues defenseman Erik Johnson and Stewart carried those distinctions. But Shattenkirk has been a prime-time player in St. Louis. His shot/pass from the point in the first period Tuesday produced David Backes' deflection goal and a 1-0 Blues lead. The goal was the 30th of the season for Backes and his 60th point.
Just over four minutes into second, Shattenkirk powered another shot that deflected off Johnson and found its way through netminder Peter Budaj. The power-play marker untied a 1-1 knot and was Shattenkirk's ninth goal this season. He leads all rookie defensemen in scoring (42 points) and deserves to be part of Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) conversations. Since coming to St. Louis, he has 16 points and a plus-9 rating in 24 games.
"It was definitely something I wanted to bring to the table, and I know Chris did as well," Shattenkirk said of his production. "I think when it came down to it, that's why we were brought here. To come in and get it done has been great. I hope for the future here, we keep progressing and bringing the same thing, and next year we get it going the right way."
A spirited third period included T.J. Oshie's first NHL fight (with Ryan Wilson), a rash of rough behavior and misconducts, the perplexing booing of Johnson and stout work by both Budaj and Blues keeper Jaroslav Halak. With 39.4 seconds remaining, it also included Andy McDonald's open-net goal, his 20th of the season.
"It's frustrating being in the position that we are in," said McDonald, whose three points gave him 49 points in 56 games. "But we're kind of getting ready for next year and we want to leave on a good note. We want to go into the summer realizing we finished by playing good hockey."