The St. Louis Blues were hoping to erase a bad taste from Vancouver. Instead, the Blues own failings cost them a second straight game, this time against Edmonton.
Well, the Edmonton Oilers look like they are for real ladies and gentlemen. That said, if the Blues cleaned up a few things, they could have and perhaps should have gotten their second straight win on this Canadian road trip.
Instead, due to their own failings, mixed with some timely play by their opponents, the Blues have now dropped two straight after winning three in a row.
The Blues had the offense moving. They were doing some decent things in the Edmonton zone. For whatever reason, they could not get the puck past Cam Talbot.
Perhaps that’s a Blues thing. They seem to do reasonably well against the tough goaltenders, Jonathan Quick as an exception, but make the mediocre ones look like world beaters.
The main difference here is the shots vs chances. Talbot played well, for sure, but regardless of the the TV crew said, too many of their shots were not good chances.
Putting a puck on target does not always mean it was likely to score. That was the Blues main problem in this game. 35 shots on goal, but only a handful of real, quality chances to beat Talbot.
Defensively, the Blues were a bit of a mixed bag. We all knew it was going to be tough guarding one of the more dynamic offenses in the league, but there were a few too many mistakes.
The Blues relied heavily on Jake Allen despite the Oilers not having a ton of shots on goal. Allen had three saves in quick succession, plus several others throughout the game. If not for him, the final could easily have been 4 or 5-1.
The miscue on the game-winning goal was particularly disappointing. Connor McDavid has afterburner speed, but Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester followed him instead of someone staying in their lane toward Milan Lucic and Allen had no chance to stop it from the doorstep.
It is understandable for the trail defender to want to help. In this instance, McDavid was being pushed to a tough angle, so giving him a passing lane actually bailed him out a bit.
The Blues may have deserved better, but they did not do enough to earn better. Edmonton did enough to earn better and got the 3-1 final in their favor.
For now, the Blues will just have to chalk this one up, move on and get ready for Calgary.
No reason to be completely negative here. The Blues played hard and didn’t get a few breaks.
They probably played well enough to win, but they were made to pay for their mistakes. That doesn’t, by itself, mean the game was a total loss.
One of the bright sides was the Blues third and fourth lines. The fourth line created a few chances early in the game. A combination of Talbot and purely being fourth liners meant those chances did not go in.
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If St. Louis keeps getting good chances from the line of Dmitirj Jaskin, Patrik Berglund and David Perron, then it could be a very solid line and one to keep together. Again, with only one goal scored, they didn’t achieve their objective, but they were flying around, hitting people and getting good shots on goal.
All three of those players are ones that have been given the business by the fans over time. We basically know what they are by now, but if they can keep up those kinds of shifts with consistency, they will benefit the team more often than not.
In-zone defensive play was also a plus for the Blues. They gave up a few too many odd-man rushes for comfort, but that had to do more with giveaways in the offensive or neutral zones.
When the Blues were in their own zone, they did a pretty good job of stifling the Oilers’ offense. It’s those transition plays that need to be cleaned up a bit.
Blues 3 Stars
3. Colton Parayko – Parayko continues to look like someone who is going to be a top 2 defender really soon and should be getting top 4 minutes. The only thing he has against him right now is his age and the amount of defenders that have been on the team longer.
For a big guy, he continues to show skill on the puck and joining in the rush. He still needs to become more comfortable unleashing his bomb from the point, but that should come.
Just for an example of how good he can be, he took McDavid on 1v1 as the phenom came through the slot. Parayko won the battle, did not take a penalty and was able to get the puck away.
Lesser defensemen would have been blown by or spent the next two minutes in the box. Parayko was very solid overall.
2. Jake Allen – As mentioned, if not for the Snake, the Blues would have been blown out. Even though we tried to accentuate the positive, there were way to many breaks into the zone allowed.
Allen came up big to at least give his team a chance in the end. He was unfortunate with the tying goal, where he got blown up, but sadly, it was probably the right call.
He had little to no chance on Lucic’ winning goal and came close to stopping it anyway. If the Blues get goaltending like this from Allen more often than not, they will be perfectly fine in goal.
1. Nail Yakupov – Yakupov had something to prove. Everyone wants to have a good game against the team that traded you away.
Yakupov did just that. He scored a goal and, if not for a poorly placed post, would have had two.
His speed was almost undefendable. On the one that hit the post, he blew by everyone on the left wing, cut it back in front and juked the goaltender out of his jock. It was a shame he did not get that second one.
You can’t just chalk it up to playing against Edmonton though. Yakupov was tearing it up against Vancouver as well and just was not rewarded for his efforts.
It is way to early to jump the gun and wonder about how many he can score. If he can keep up this kind of pace and effort though, the rewards almost have to come.
The Blues will look to get at least two points out of this trip, but will be seeing some familiar faces as they do. It’s off to Calgary to end this jaunt across western Canada.
St. Louis will take on Brian Elliott, Troy Brouwer and St. Louisan, Matthew Tkachuk for the first time on Saturday, October 22. Calgary is coming off a loss to Carolina, so perhaps the Blues can keep them down.
The puck will drop on that one at 9pm. Nothing has been said yet, but Carter Hutton may get the start since Ken Hitchcock seemed to imply he might see a game at some point during the road trip.
The Blues are still on top of the division, but their lead has shrunk to one point. It’s up to them to re-extend it this weekend.