St. Louis Blues: Pros And Cons Of Final 2017 Preseason Game

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 01: St. Louis Blues' Wade Megan, left, pushes the puck past Washington Capitals' Matt Niskanen, right, during the third period of an NHL hockey preseason game October 1, 2017. The Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 01: St. Louis Blues' Wade Megan, left, pushes the puck past Washington Capitals' Matt Niskanen, right, during the third period of an NHL hockey preseason game October 1, 2017. The Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Blues finished off their 2017 preseason with a game against the Washington Capitals. The result may not have been what was wanted, but the team still gained valuable information.

The St. Louis Blues finished off their slate of 2017 preseason games with a contest at home against the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, the Blues fell by a final score of 4-3.

The preseason has not gone exactly according to plan for St. Louis. Overall, they finished 3-5 but more importantly, they have lost key players along the way.

St. Louis has a history with injury over the last few seasons. A time does not spring to mind when you had this many at once before the season even began though.

Luckily, the Blues are still getting guys to step up. They are also getting good performances, even if not statistically, from their prospects and minor league guys.

That has been a theme as well over the past few years. Guys like Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson and Robby Fabbri refused to let the team send them to the minors.

Names like Sammy Blais and Wade Megan might have joined that group this year. We will know for sure about that in the next few days.

For now, keeping the focus on this one game, there was good and bad. So, let’s get right into the pros and cons from that contest.

Pros:

The Blues outshot their opponent.

St. Louis has been getting pucks to the net this preseason. The totals are going to change game to game and, as with any sport, you’ll have good nights and bad nights.

From an overall perspective though, the Blues have been doing a better job and actually firing the puck on net. One would figure that was a point of emphasis by Mike Yeo and his staff.

There are still things to figure out for the power play unit, but the five-on-five team has been pretty steady. 23 shots is nothing to write home about, but three goals on 23 shots is not bad at all.

Cons:

The faceoff dot is still an issue.

The faceoff problems have been nowhere near as bad as they were in the 2017 playoffs. For whatever reason though, the Blues still struggle.

They got beat 31-27 on faceoffs against Washington. That’s not terrible. The Blues won about 46% of the draws. In the regular season, if you can’t be above 50% you’re going to give yourself fits.

You’re not going to win the majority every night. If you don’t win the majority on some nights though, you’re putting a lot of pressure on to other units.

Your defenders are defending sooner and your offense and power play cannot set up in the zone. Hopefully that will get cleaned up as we go on in the season.

Pros:

More secondary scoring.

This is not the focus of this section, but at this point Wade Megan has to make this team. He scored again against the Capitals.

His goal against the Caps puts him in a tie for the team lead in points through the preseason. He’s been a solid performer, even when not scoring.

Additionally, we saw another goal from Dmitrij Jaskin and Brayden Schenn got into the goal scoring list as well.

I’m not sure you would completely list Schenn under a secondary scorer, but it still fits the narrative. Blais got an assist, to continue his good camp.

Cons:

Jake Walman just isn’t ready yet.

The Blues have enough defensive depth and Vince Dunn has played well enough that Jake Walman should not make the team yet. He has been a defensive liability.

By no means is he to blame for every goal scored when he is on the ice. The issue is still him being on the ice for a lot of goals against.

Walman was a minus-2 against the Capitals. He was a minus-3 earlier in the preseason and has been a minus-7 for the entire thing.

Again, he is not solely to blame. He does have accountability in it though.

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Walman is going to be a good player. He’s solid on the puck and moves it well. He needs time in the AHL though to get used to defending at the professional level.

Pros:

The Blues stayed out of the penalty box.

Washington only had two powerplays in Sunday’s preseason game. The Blues penalty kill took care of those with relative ease.

The Blues penalty kill seems to have picked up where it left off over the last few seasons. They have been strong and not allowed too many power play goals. According to Fox Sports, they only allowed four power play goals all preseason.

If the Blues can limit the number of penalties they take, as they did against Washington, they’ll be in really good shape. If you keep your penalty numbers down and have a strong penalty kill, then you’re going to really help yourself in each and every game.

Cons:

The power play still stinks.

If the Blues could have a power play even half as good as their penalty kill, they’d be in business. It just does not seem to work that way.

The Blues have been good at drawing penalties during this preseason. Scoring on them is another matter.

St. Louis does have seven power play goals out of the 22 they’ve scored. 32% of your goals coming with a man-advantage is pretty good.

It’s the power play percentage that is not great. St. Louis went 1-7 on the power play against the Capitals. That is not the first time there has been a big gap like that.

When your opponent is in the box for 29 minutes and you only have 8 penalty minutes, you have to be able to capitalize. Not scoring on power plays cost the Blues against Nashville in the playoffs and threatens to do it this season as well.

The PP unit is depleted with the injuries the team has. They have to find ways to get it done though. Luckily three of Vladimir Tarasenko‘s four preseason goals came on the power play. Hopefully he will be a factor.

Pros:

Blues are largely ignoring the injuries.

It is preseason. The Blues might crumble under the weight of the injuries once the season starts. So far, they seem to be adapting quite well.

Scoring is coming from secondary places, as discussed. Guys are stepping up into larger roles than many had predicted. Prospects are playing well.

It’s all good so far. So far, the games do not actually count though.

We will have to see if this stepping up to the plate continues once the puck drops on October 4.

Cons:

St. Louis loses late again.

This one worries me. You can chalk most things up to just being preseason. Not this one. Not for me anyway.

Mike Yeo has told the broadcasters a few times that he’s not just looking for morale victories. He wants his players to win. You learn by winning.

The Blues have not done enough of that. For the second game in a row and the fourth in the preseason, the Blues blew a lead late.

They did the same against Columbus, Dallas and Minnesota. The only one they won was against Columbus in overtime.

St. Louis let two go by in the third period against Washington, something else they replicated against Minnesota.

It should not matter who is on the ice. You have to close games out.

Yes, they had several games back-to-back but that is no excuse. You have to find ways to win.

This was an issue last year as well. Hopefully Yeo can fix it because the Blues just don’t have the horses to come back from disappointment night after night. You have to play a full 60 and that might not be happening…AGAIN.

Final Thoughts:

It was a productive preseason.

The Blues did not win as many as you’d like, but the performances were there. They need to clean things up defensively, but I think they’ll be ok to start the year.

It seems as though Klim Kostin and Tage Thompson will be the odd men out, but we expected that. Don’t be shocked to see them get call-ups through the year.

The late goals against worry me. The power play worries me. Other than that, most issues can be attributed to preseason.

Negative Nelly’s will worry about the team’s depth. They’re going to be fine.

Next: Can Samuel Blais Be The Next Robby Fabbri?

Everyone thought they’d be light years behind the division last year and, if not for a terrible winter, they could have won the thing.

Everyone thought Nashville would run away and the Blues were the only team that could hang with them in the playoffs until the Final.

St. Louis has a culture of winning now, even if it is not in the spring. This team will be ok.