The St. Louis Blues laid an egg, figuratively in terms of play and literally in terms of the number they put on the board, against the New York Rangers. Their lack of crisp play in their losses is more worrying than their lack of scoring.
The St. Louis Blues had an absolute stinker against the New York Rangers. Despite outshooting the Blueshirts, the Blues were their own worst enemy in too many situations.
That is becoming a rather regular occurrence in the team’s losses. Sadly, the Blues lack of smart play is becoming more of a constant than the lack of scoring.
The problem shown by the game against the Rangers was the Blues just get in their own way. There was plenty of effort, or at the very least enough effort to prevent a blowout.
This was not the poor showing we saw against Calgary just a week ago. That might actually be just as worrying though since the outcome was the same.
The Blues just failed to even enter the building against the Flames. They were husks of themselves.
Instead, they were out there on the ice against the Rangers, but they just didn’t work hard enough. Or rather they didn’t work smart enough.
The Blues had a hand in too many of their goals against. That just can’t be the case when you’re playing against good teams.
The first goal against was due to a very weak turnover by Alex Pietrangelo. The poke check that kept it in the zone was so flimsy that a stiff breeze might have knocked the stick out of the New York player’s hand.
The second goal against, the Blues defense inexplicably just stood in a perfect square pattern and watched Jimmy Vesey glide into the slot, unopposed, for the score. I get that you only have four players on the penalty kill, but it just came too easily.
The third goal, Jake Allen could have done better to seal off the ice and not allow a bank shot. Still, the outlet pass from Kevin Shattenkirk went right to the Rangers to lead the break in the first place.
Shattenkirk is supposed to be one of the top offensive defensemen and a great passer. If you’re putting your team in a terrible position by throwing it right to the opposition, it’s hard to expect a good result in the end.
The fourth goal was probably the first one that there was very little blame to hand out. We’ve come to expect great things this season from the Blues penalty kill, but there wasn’t much Joel Edmundson could have done differently other than perhaps have his stick in a different spot.
The fifth goal, again, came off a careless Blues turnover. Patrik Berglund was trying to do too much and his blind pass in front of goal led to a 3-on-1 break.
People will fault Jay Bouwmeester because he didn’t prevent the pass, but he was in as good a position as he could be with three players to account for. The sad thing is even after changing goaltenders, the Blues could provide no more support.
Those are just the examples from this particular game. The Blues are making too much of a habit to leave their brains in the locker room at inopportune times.
Lack of offense
The lack of offense continues to be a problem. Sadly, it just is not for lack of talent or effort (most nights).
The Blues are creating, but not doing anything with it. That is where the work smarter, not harder portion of this comes in.
You can’t just tell the Blues to work harder offensively, because that isn’t the problem. They’re getting the puck into the zone, but they are allowing themselves to be one and done too much.
The offense is coming too much from the perimeter. There is not enough crashing the net and attempting to get dirty goals. That’s where they must be smarter.
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The know it all’s will say the Blues would have that grit if they kept certain players. This has nothing to do with that.
The Blues don’t need big bodies lumbering around in front of the goaltender. They do need their current players to cycle around in front and go for rebounds and chip away.
Nobody is asking Vladimir Tarasenko or David Perron or whoever to set up camp in front of the goaltender. You do have to charge the net when you feel shots are going to be taken and start getting those goals from in tight.
Kelly Chase said it during the post game radio show after the Rangers game, and I agree, that you don’t score too often in today’s game on the initial rush. You have to be able to get those second, third or even fourth chance goals.
That is the Blues biggest problem right now. They are getting those shots on goal, but nobody is there afterward causing havoc for the defender or goaltender on those extra loose pucks.
That’s why the Blues must be smarter. Don’t change lines just for the sake of it. Don’t skate harder for the sake of it. Use your energy to get those mucky goals that won’t make the highlight reels, but will benefit your team.
Credit has to go to the Rangers. This isn’t like the Blues having a poor game against one of the league’s bottom feeders.
Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head for a couple saves as well. The Blues have run into some hot goaltending, so that must be taken into account, but it just is not the only thing to consider.
The Blues, with the exception of that Calgary game, have played well enough to win the vast majority of their games. Instead, we are here contemplating what is wrong much too early in the season.
These aren’t simple fixes. If it was, there would not be such a premium paid for good coaches and smart players.
Still, this team is not as bad as they have looked. The simply need to do better.
People will blame Allen for the Rangers game because that’s what people do. They see four goals against on a low amount of shots and say it’s all goaltending.
The entire team just isn’t getting it done in these types of games though. Allen is not getting support defensively with the turnovers or offensively.
It can be fixed. I have faith it will be fixed. It had better be fixed quickly though or there are going to be more discussions like this one than good feelings from wins.