No, that’s not a typo, the St. Louis Blues did indeed lose 7-1 Tuesday night to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in snowy Newark, a game the Blues played as if they’d been told it was cancelled. A blizzard outside gave way to an avalanche of goals as Brian Elliott gave up 3 goals on 9 shots and was chased before the end of the 1st period. Jaroslav Halak fared no better, allowing 4 more New Jersey goals on just 14 shots. Alexander Steen scored the lone St. Louis goal, his 25th of the season.
I’m going to get something out of the way before I lay into my favorite team here: BLUES FANS, TAKE YOUR FINGER OFF THE PANIC BUTTON.
Okay, with that said, the Blues flat-out didn’t show up to play Tuesday night. The Devils had a 2-0 lead less than 3-minutes in and Ells looked bad on both goals, though he was getting NO help from his teammates. The first goal was deflected though I was just reminded the deflection occurred near the top of the face-off circle, not 2-feet in front of the crease. You’d like to think Ells could’ve adjusted.
That’s just me talking though, I’ve never tried to stop a puck, deflected or not, being fired at me on any level, ever. We love hockey because it’s the greatest sport, and it’s not an easy game to play. You have to try though, and I saw very little effort by St. Louis Tuesday night. The second goal was a classic case of defensive failure. Elliott was flopping, pushing guys out of his crease and desperately flailing at the puck while Ryan Carter skated in uncontested to backhand in a rebound.
Steener gave the Blues the only glimmer of hope they’d see on the night scoring at 8:47 to pull St. Louis within one, his first goal since returning from a concussion. The goal tied him with TJ Oshie for the team lead in points. Jaden Schwartz assisted on the goal, only his 2nd point since January 4th after amassing points in 8 straight games.
Rather than using Steen’s tally as a springboard to a comeback, St. Louis appeared to pack it in, maybe thinking of getting out of New Jersey before the heaviest snow stranded them there. In many circumstances I couldn’t blame them, but there was still a lot of hockey left in Tuesday night’s game. Coach Hitchcock may as well have put orange pylons on the ice for all the resistance the Blues put up for the remaining 50 or so minutes.
Elliott would be pulled at 12:17 and word on the street, and by street I mean Twitter, is that he was none too happy with the performance, shattering his stick in the tunnel near the St. Louis bench after coming off the ice. Halak made a couple of decent saves among the 10 pucks he stopped, but through the final two periods, the Devils were able to pump in THREE power-play goals (on 5-chances) against a Blues penalty kill previously ranked 5th in the league.
The final nail in the coffin was something you may have never seen before. As Eric Gelinas skated across center ice with about 8-minutes left in the 3rd he blasted a slap-shot into the Blues zone, presumably to dump the puck in and rattle it around the boards. Alex Pietrangelo was in the line of fire and couldn’t get out of the way. The puck skipped off his stick, hit an unsuspecting Halak, caroming about 3-times off his gear and shoulder and over him into the net. Stunning.
It was actually a pretty fitting way to end the game, which the goal essentially did. The Blues showed little more fight over the final 7:56 than they did at any point earlier in the game. It was full of lazy skating, poor zone exits, disjointed special teams, and shaky goaltending, easily the worst effort I’ve witnessed by St. Louis in the past year. Petro, in particular, had a pretty awful game defensively, though to single him out on a night like Tuesday night isn’t really fair. Everyone wearing the Bluenote stunk last night.
HOWEVER, it was one night, one game, and we all know and have seen what this team is capable of. I suppose that’s what makes it so tough to watch them completely phone it in, but I urge you all to step back from the ledge. Yes, there are legitimate questions left in the wake of such a disastrous blowout.
Do the Blues need a new goalie? Frankly I’m sick to death of the Ryan Miller talk but it’s as hot and heavy as ever after last night. Is Jake Allen a legitimate option? Will he get a look any time soon? Can either Halak or Elliott take the reigns of this team and lead them to a Cup?
A couple other questions: Where is Chris Stewart hiding? Is Patrik Berglund going to ever score like we think he should? These have been asked a number of times over the last 60 or so games (going back into last season’s playoffs.) Lastly, will the NHL ever find any decent referees? Couldn’t resist that one, but seriously, tell me you don’t ask yourself the same thing at least every other game?
The Blues continue their East-Coast trip with a game in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers Thursday night and wrap up in Long Island on Saturday afternoon. While they’ve definitely come across some hot goaltenders in the last 2-weeks, that’s no excuse for the way St. Louis played Tuesday. Hopefully they’ll heat up again as Winter weather batters the Big Apple and put the loss to the Devils behind them quickly.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!