The St. Louis Blues took on the Dallas Stars for the second time in the preseason on Saturday night. The result was the same, but how they got there was completely different.
The St. Louis Blues are proving to have a difficult time against their former coach, Ken Hitchcock, so far this preseason. Two games against the Dallas Stars have the Blues going 0-2.
The first game you could see the fight and desire. The Blues fell 5-3, but had the lead at several points before Dallas came alive in the third period. That game was in Dallas.
In the return affair, Blues fans were not treated to any such fire and spirit. The Blues got blanked 4-0 and it was a case for a lot of guys to not make the team instead of vice versa.
In the team’s defense, it was not a very strong lineup. It was predominantly prospects, with only a small sprinkling of veterans.
That is no excuse for the effort given. Still, when Colton Parayko is your best defender and then a big drop off and the same is ture of Vladimir Sobotka for the forwards, it is hard to expect a ton more than what we saw.
Normally this newer series has gone back and forth with a pro and then a con. Today, we’re just going to get the cons out of the way since they far outweigh the pros in this game.
Cons: The Prospects stunk it up.
After having so many great games, it was always likely for a letdown when you are playing mostly prospects together. That likelihood came against Dallas.
Mike Yeo has previously stated that no one game would make or break any chances. Nobody did themselves any favors in this game though.
As a group, for the most part, the kids all seemed to do either nothing or make bad plays. Statistically the bright spots were Klim Kostin and Robert Thomas not being minus-players.
The flip side of that is they combined for one shot. Additionally, Kostin got in a fight at center ice that negated the Blues only goal.
Defensively, there just did not look to be much good. Tommy Vannelli and Jake Walman looked overmatched.
Again, maybe nobody ended their chances to make the team with this game. They did not leave a good impression as the vets will start to get a lot more time the rest of the way though.
Cons: The power play is still struggling.
St. Louis went 0-7 with the man advantage against Dallas. That’s just not good enough, preseason or not.
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Over the course of a season, you have to give some wiggle room with power play percentages. Not all of them are equal.
Sometimes you get a power play that lasts 20 seconds and that will affect your average. Still, if you got four or five solid power plays out of seven each game, you need to be scoring at least a goal.
Yes, it is preseason. The Blues had a bunch of guys that will never see power play time with St. Louis this year again.
It is just worrying that the power play woes we saw in the playoffs are here to stay. If the Blues cannot be effective with the man advantage, it might be a long season.
Cons: Poor faceoff performance again.
This is another issue the Blues seem to be having regardless of the roster makeup.
Yes, you can leave it to preseason talk, but the team’s inability to win faceoffs with regularity is nothing new. It seems like a plague that has been passed down through the roster.
We are all hoping that Thomas proves to be an excellent draft pick in the future. Right now, his faceoff percentage was at 18% last night.
You have to win faceoffs to win games, bottom line. If you lose them in your zone, the other team can set up. If you cannot win them in the attacking end, you have to constantly battle to enter the zone.
Faceoffs are one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of the game. The Blues were sorely lacking in that department against the Stars.
Cons: The Blues were planning for the next day.
Blame the coaches. Blame the NHL. Place blame wherever you want.
You could kind of tell the team was placing more importance for their nationally televised game against Pittsburgh. Nobody will ever admit it, though Mike Yeo insinuated as much in his pregame talk.
These things happen in preseason. You have a bunch of games back to back. In this case back to back to back.
Still, when your only good veterans are Parayko and Sobotka, then you are not having much of a mix. That is usually what breeds success in preseason – a good mix of the veterans with prospects.
Dallas did not have their A team out there, but they had plenty of NHL regulars. It is understandable why we got the team we did last night.
Even so, it there could have been a bit more mixing without taking the team’s chances against the Penguins down at all.
Pros: Jake Allen was strong.
Stat heads and Allen haters will disagree with this. Allen had a .892 save percentage and three of the four goals came at even strength.
The game could have been much worse though. The Snake saw 37 shots come his way, so he got his sweat on in this one.
Allen was never given a chance to settle into the game. 16 shots against in the first period is not how you want a preseason game to go.
Allen kept the Stars off the board in the second, stopping 14 more. He kept the team in the game throughout, but Dallas was relentless and the young Blues defenders put up little resistance.
Allen made some good saves and had little help. We just have to hope this was not something to expect from the regulars.
Pros: The physicality picked up.
23 hits is not great. It is 10 more than we saw in the last game though, which is a positive.
Some unexpected guys stood up for their teammates as well. Robert Bortuzzo dropped the gloves early to avenge a slash on Alex Steen from the last game against Dallas.
Dmitrij Jaskin got in a tussle in Washington and then Kostin dropped the mitts against Dallas as well.
The timing of the Kostin scrap could have been better. The Blues ended up scoring on the play that was negated when the refs saw the fight. Still, you like the spirit and camaraderie.
Additionally, Samuel Blais was tied for the lead in hits with four on the night. It is always good to see someone with a well-rounded game and not solely interested in the offensive side of things.
Final Thoughts: Just not good enough.
Whether it was the play or the lineup, it just was not good enough last night. Sure, there are excuses to be made, but these guys have raised our hopes.
Last night did not crush any hopes. It brought a few expectations back down to reality.
As good as all these kids will or might be, they are not stars on their own yet. They need people that have been there alongside them.
But as much as the shutout win in Washington was one good performance, this was just one bad one. There is another one tonight ready to cleanse our pallet.
The Blues take on Pittsburgh in the Kraftville Hockey Game at 7pm. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.