The St. Louis Blues were shutout 3-0 Tuesday night at Scottrade Center by Nikolai Khabibulin and the Edmonton Oilers. Khabibulin made 43 saves for his 1st shutout of the season, the 46th of his career. Rookie Jake Allen allowed 3 goals on just 7 shots through roughly 25 minutes of play before yielding to Jaroslav Halak who stopped all 12 shots he faced.
noun \i-ˈnig-mə, e-\ -something hard to understand or explain
I don’t know how else to describe this Blues team right now. You look at what they’ve been able to do this year, at times dominating opponents, scoring in bursts, running 4 strong lines of forwards and matching up defensively with the best of them, at one time leading the league in power play percentage, and you think maybe this team actually has what it takes to go all the way to the Cup Finals.
Then there’s the Blues who come out flat against even the most mediocre of clubs, teams they’ve held sway over for long periods of time, teams they should beat game in and game out. You see them make mistakes in their own zone, turning over the puck and giving up bad goals. You see them firing the puck wide of the net again and again, sometimes missing point-blank opportunities. You seem them score 2 power play goals in almost 30 chances. You scratch your head.
THEN you see a game like Tuesday night’s match-up with the Edmonton Oilers where the Blues, despite making the mistakes and skating like they do when they’re off their game, bombard the opposing goalie with 43 shots but can’t light the lamp. You want to scream at them, tell them to get with it and somehow figure out how to score a goal, but what good would it do? They were trying, right?
Aged, though showing no cracks, the ‘Boulin Wall stood tall and resolutely turned away or absorbed everything the Blues threw at him. St. Louis has run into other outstanding goaltending in losing 3 of their last 4 games, amassing 140 total shots but scoring only 7 goals. Khabibulin was at the top of his game but you have to wonder, what’s happened to all the talent the Blues are putting out on the ice?
Maybe they’re simply not as good as we thought they were. The Blues own goaltending situation, in a state of flux most of this shortened season, was muddied further against the Oilers. St. Louis has played well in front of Allen this season, until last night. Allen was hung out to dry on Jordan Eberle’s first goal of the night.
It doesn’t get much easier than that. A poor clearing effort and more flat-footed defense led to Eberle’s second of the night, though some might argue it was a shot Allen should have stopped.
Less than 2 minutes later the Oilers were off to the races again after a Blues defenseman had a shot blocked out high (something that’s happened with disturbing regularity this season) and Eberle split the D, bidding for the Hat Trick. Allen made a sprawling save but Taylor Hall finished him, banging a rebound into an empty net.
The Blues should feel horrible about the way they played in front of Allen, but they did get their chances to come back and win the game. 43 of them, to be precise, and nothing to show for it but another loss. It boggles the mind. Good goaltending happens, certainly, but everyone in St. Louis likely thinks the Blues should’ve found a way to sneak one in, do something to change things up or find a spark. It didn’t happen. They kept banging their heads against the ‘Boulin Wall and ended up with only a headache.
Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I think the Blues must find another way to approach things if they expect to finish in the top 8 Western Conference teams this year. I’m not sure what that is, but games like last night’s make me wish Doug Armstrong did have an itchy trigger finger. I think I’d be okay seeing one of the St. Louis “young guns” packaged in a trade to bring some new blood, and hopefully new life into this team. I don’t know what else will work.