The St. Louis Blues got center stage for the beginning of the end to their 2017 preseason campaign. Taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins brought out the best in the team and they were fun to watch.
The St. Louis Blues came out a little slow in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania. St. Louis fell behind by the score of 1-0 to Pittsburgh playing in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game.
It was another poor showing on defense with sloppy marking and lazy clearances. Fortunately, the changes were made during intermission and the Blues came out to play later on.
From the second period on, the Blues were the dominant team save for a break down the ice here or there. In the end, they would win by a final of 4-1.
Four goals scored seems to be a theme as it has happened in the last three games. Luckily, the Blues were on the right side of the scoreline for the second game out of three.
Despite a win, it was not all rainbows and sunshine. So, let’s delve into the pros and cons of the game.
Pros: Multiple scorers.
When talking about positives, this page and many others have been talking up the Blues depth. It’s all well and good to have good players up and down the roster, but they do have to produce. That has been a sticking point in year’s past.
So far this preseason, the Blues have had good scoring depth. Nobody is running away with the preseason scoring title, but everyone is getting the job done. That was the case against Pittsburgh.
The Blues had four goals against the Penguins. St. Louis had four goal scorers.
Vladimir Tarasenko looked in midseason form with his wrist shot to tie it up. Jordan Kyrou scored through traffic to take the lead. Paul Stastny scored a rare thing for the Blues with an empty net goal and Dmitirj Jaskin chipped in with another late in the game.
Each goal was a strong effort from the guy who scored it, especially Jaskin’s. You expect Tarasenko to score, but when other guys are picking up the ball and running, it’s even better. Hopefully this trend can continue into the regular season.
Cons: First period defense.
The Blues had scored the first goal in three straight preseason games. Now, they’ve been scored upon first in two straight.
Having Jake Guentzel score on you is no shame, in and of itself. The guy has talent.
However, the Blues defending has lacked energy the last couple games. The Dallas game almost makes sense since it was the third game in a short span for some young players.
The Blues went with a more veteran lineup, especially on the back line, against Pittsburgh. Seeing the same problems creep in at the start of the game was a little disappointing.
The Blues are not going to be a physically punishing team. It is not their game.
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They do have to be positionally sound, aware of who they are marking and quick on their feet. Zone exits must be clean and giveaways must be limited.
Pros: Carter Hutton showed very well.
Though the Blues defenders got their act together in the second and third periods, Hutton had a very good game as well.
He was not tested a lot. Still, 23 saves against a reasonably full Pittsburgh lineup cannot be shrugged off.
The Blues are going to need Hutton to be in form this year, as he was last year. He’s looked like his game is pretty well in order this preseason, which bodes well.
Hutton never had to make the spectacular save, but you don’t always need that. If the defense plays well, you only need your goaltender to clean up any mistakes and Hutton did just that.
Cons: Few too many silly penalties.
The Blues have been guilty of this more in other games. There were a couple penalties that were unavoidable and potentially thwarted goal scoring chances.
There were still those penalties that just involved not moving the feet and getting caught out of position. It is preseason, but it’s also too early in the year.
If you simply are not in position, that is laziness. It is an unwillingness to keep the skates going and find a better way to defend it.
Overall, this should not be a huge issue for the Blues. In each individual game it is a bit frustrating to see though.
The Blues have decent special teams, but they far overuse them. They don’t need to be taxed in the preseason.
Pros: Prospects continue to show well.
While it did not show up as highly on the stat sheet in this game, the prospects or AHL guys keep showing very well. Kyrou scored a very gritty goal, getting in traffic in the slot to bang home a loose puck.
Those are the kinds of goals you wonder if you’ll get out of players that are used to the open nature of junior hockey. Additionally Wade Megan keeps impressing.
He did not score, but he is one of those guys that seems to know where to be. Although I almost never agree with Pierre McGuire, I do agree with his statement that it would be a shame if Megan doesn’t earn a spot.
Vince Dunn looked very much like a great puck moving defender. His actual defensive skills are not top notch, but he’s definitely looking like someone that could eventually replace Kevin Shattenkirk on the offensive end.
Final Thoughts: It was another preseason game and in spots you could really tell. In other spots, you’d think it was a regular season contest. There was an odd bit of chippiness, perhaps brought on by the fact it was on national television.
Overall, it was great to see the Blues show well on a big stage. Even if it is an exhibition, when the team performs well on national television, they make other people respect them more.
People around the country do not follow the Blues like we do, so if they see the best the team has to offer then that sticks in the memory bank.
Offensively, the team looks fine. They are passing well and despite mixed lines, the chemistry seems quite good this early in the year.
Defensively, the Blues are not horrible. There are some glaring things that need to be cleaned up by the regular season or St. Louis will cost itself some valuable points.
It was a positive performance in the grand scheme. It was also great to see the Blues on TV, even if we had to suffer through McGuire to do it.