The St. Louis Blues went into their Sunday game against the Colorado Avalanche with the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot. One lousy point was all the Blues needed but they forgot how to play their game and fell to the lowly Avs 5-3. Brian Elliott was pulled after giving up 4 goals on only 19 shots.
St. Louis managed to score more than 2 goals for the first time in their last 9 games but it wasn’t enough to overcome Colorado’s attack, led by Jamie McGinn. He scored twice and added an assist in what many Blues fans would call a very disappointing effort by the defense and goaltending, usually the strongest part of their game.
The Blues never led Sunday and though they out-shot Colorado 32-31 overall they were outplayed from nearly start to finish, especially in their own zone. St. Louis has scored first in their last two games, both wins at home, but fell behind 1-0 halfway through the 1st period. David Backes tied it up only a minute later but the Blues gave up a goal inside the last minute of the frame, a frequent occurrence this season.
Colorado would add another goal early in the 2nd period to go up 3-1. St. Louis was awful handling the puck Sunday night and when they weren’t making bad passes they were flat out handing the puck to the Avs. David Perron assisted on McGinn’s 2nd goal of a game, a power-play tally.
Jaden Schwartz had one of the few good games by any of the Blues, particularly the forwards, and was rewarded with a spot on the top line in the 2nd period. He brought St. Louis within one with a slapshot through veteran J.S. Giguere’s pads at 6:49 and gave the Blues some life.
The spark failed to ignite the Blues and before the end of 40 minutes Colorado had scored again to go up 4-2. It was a great solo effort by Matt Duchene, but it highlighted the poor defense and goaltending St. Louis had offered throughout the night. It would prove to be the last shot Elliott faced as Jake Allen came off the bench to relieve him.
The Blues fought back again in the 3rd as Kevin Shattenkirk managed to thread a shot from the point through traffic that beat Giguere and brought St. Louis within one, but Colorado swarmed the offensive zone the entire period and their persistence paid off when Chuck Kobasew put the puck past Allen at 11:54 to put the Avs up 5-3. Allen was uncharacteristically NOT squared up to the shooter and it was a back-breaker of a goal.
St. Louis did very few things right Sunday in Denver. They went 0-3 on the power-play, gave up a special teams goal, allowed 31 shots and turned the puck over time after time. Backes took an undisciplined penalty late in the 3rd, essentially killing the team’s chances of making a come-back. I could single out a few other particularly bad performances but, like many Blues losses this year, this was a team effort. Bad-mouth the goaltending all you want, the team was terrible in front of their netminders.
The Blues have another shot at the Avs tonight at Scottrade Center. Keep in mind that Colorado has already been eliminated from the post-season. The Blues really shouldn’t lose to a team like that, though Sunday marked the 8th time in 8 games the Avs have beaten St. Louis at the Pepsi Center. Hopefully the Blues can turn it around at home. Ells will have a chance to redeem himself IF everyone on the ice does a better job protecting the puck and clearing their zone.
I see a lot of talk through social media about how quickly Blues fans go from loving the team to “hating” it. Detractors must not realize how passionate Blues fans are and how much their team means to them. If I’m disappointed by the team’s play or effort I certainly don’t hate them. I, like many others in St. Louis, Bleed Blue, and it hurts when they don’t perform up to their potential.
I know the Blues can play better than they did Sunday and their magic number is still only 1. A win tonight and they;re in, very simple. It’ll be good to get a fresh start when the playoffs start. I believe the Blues can make some noise in the post-season this year, but they’ll need to play near-flawless hockey. I think they can do it, do you?
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!