St. Louis Blues: No Lead Is Safe At 2017 NHL Prospects Tournament

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 14: Tage Thompson
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 14: Tage Thompson /

The 2017 NHL Prospects Tournament has been nothing short of interesting so far. The St. Louis Blues have seen plenty of offense, but the time it has come is a little worrying.

Well, two of the three guaranteed games of the St. Louis Blues journey at the 2017 NHL Prospects Tournament are in the books. The familiar theme, in case you missed this story’s title, is no lead is apparently safe.

For the second night in a row, the Blues have seen three goal leads evaporate. Fortunately, they were not on the short side of that equation on both instances.

On Friday, St. Louis had a four goal lead (5-1) and ended up losing 6-5. Turn the clock a little more than 24 hours and it was the Blues storming back for a come from behind win.

The Blues managed to come up with a furious rally, scoring three goals in just over four minutes to force overtime against the Dallas Stars prospects. The game did not last much longer than three periods, but it took a late goal in OT to end it.

Tommy Vannelli scored with less than a minute left in the extra frame. St. Louis would even up their record at 1-1 with their 7-6 victory.

As was the case the night prior, there were positives and negatives to take from the performances. You do have to take the end result with a grain of salt since coaches are looking at individual performances more than anything.

On a side note, that has always been an issue I’ve taken with these sorts of showcases. Coaches flat out say they want to see individuals step up, but also want to see how they interact with their linemates.

The two ideas are not completely separate, but they don’t necessarily mesh. Someone might be more inclined to go for glory instead of setting their teammate up or making the smart team play. I digress though.

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The negative portion of the tournament, so far, is the inability to keep goals out of the net. The Blues allowed six goals on 18 shots.

I don’t care how little experience you have or what kind of experimental schemes you might be running. Six goals on 18 shots just is not cutting the mustard.

The Blues have some guys they are hoping will be on the NHL club soon, if not this year. However, if the guys on blue line are only focused on offense, then they need to get their priorities straight. The game might be changing, but defensemen still have to defend. Otherwise you should just be a forward.

On the positive side, the guys that most fans are eager to see suit up for the real NHL team are putting their best foot forward. Klim Kostin has scored three goals in two games. Jake Walman and Alexey Toropchenko have two goals apiece. Tage Thompson got his name in the goal column as well, to go along with two assists against Dallas.

Vannelli is a name we’ve been waiting to hear more from as well. At 22, he’s getting to the point where he’s no longer a prospect and needs to make a big move. Even the coaching staff knows that.

“I’m happy for him,” Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo told the team’s website. “You go from being a young guy to one of the older guys in a big hurry, and he’s wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey and he’s relied on as a leader for the team. He knows it’s an important year for him, and it was nice for him to be able to step up there and deliver with the game on the line.”

Additionally, it was good to have the team rebound from the loss. Things were clearly sloppy at the back end to allow six, but scoring 12 goals in two games isn’t anything to sneeze at and leads the tournament so far.

Building that winning habit is good too. You can say you want to see individual players perform, but some of these guys will eventually play together in the NHL. If they can learn how to battle and win together, not just put up points, the franchise will be better for it.

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The Blues wrap up their group play on Monday at 2 p.m. against the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects. Columbus is currently undefeated, so a win would be big for the Blues there.

Depending on how the Blues finish, they will play in either the third, fifth or seventh place game on September 12. Hopefully they can figure out how to gain and hold a lead by then.