The St. Louis Blues came out strong for the second game in a row. With emotions running high and former bosses in town, the team came up with a solid performance.
The St. Louis Blues came into their game with the Dallas Stars with a lot on the line in an early season matchup. They had questions to answer.
Could they overcome whatever defensive strategies their former coach, Ken Hitchcock, would come up to shut them down? Was their win over Pittsburgh for real or are the Penguins as bad as they looked through two games.
Who knows about the last answer. We won’t know that about Pittsburgh for a month or so. The other part got answered.
The Blues came to play and show their former bench boss that they were more than just a Hitchcock structure. They wanted to show him up a little bit and it ended up being a good performance overall.
As usual, it was not a perfect game for anyone, but that benefits these sorts of analytical articles. So, let’s break down the good and bad from the Blues second game of the season.
The Blues came out hard and fast and were rewarded.
While they did not get a truly early goal, the Blues struck quickly and often once they broke the ice. The first goal of the game came just before the midway point of the first period. The third goal of the game was scored five minutes later.
The Blues had similar performances in Pittsburgh. They did not score the first goal of the game, but they answered quickly.
The benefit of being able to strike so fast is the idea of not letting the foot off the gas. We have not yet seen that over the course of 60 minutes, but seeing spurts is good to start.
Knowing it is in there and can be summoned so quickly is great. Knocking an opponent on their heels and keeping them there is a big step. The Blues just have to find ways to keep teams there.
The Blues could not step on the Stars’ throat.
The Blues won the game and it was never truly in doubt. However, the Blues could not put that final nail in the coffin.
St. Louis had three goal leads twice in the game. They got a little too comfortable at 3-0 and 4-1 and let Dallas back in.
They never allowed the Stars to get that extra goal, but this has been an issue all year so far. We saw it in preseason and saw it in the season opener.
For whatever reason, the Blues have the occasional lapse and that allows teams back into games. The Blues have to find ways to keep the foot on the gas and put teams away.
As long as you are winning it is ok. If results start to be lost, then you have a serious issue on your hand.
The Blues won the battles they’ve been losing.
That idea seems very broad, but it is because it covers several things. The Blues have not been good physically so far, whether preseason or regular. They have been quite bad in the faceoff circle and their power play has been an issue.
The power play is still not great, but statistically it was better. They scored a power play goal against Dallas and only failed on one other one. 50% is not too shabby.
The Blues actually won the faceoff battle as well. St. Louis won 53% of their draws and only Oskar Sundqvist won fewer than half of his faceoffs.
St. Louis outhit Dallas as well. It is way too early in the season to really tell what kind of team the Blues will be in that regard, but seeing them go out and hit guys is a positive step.
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The Blues outhit the Stars 39 to 26, which is a far cry from some of the other performances we’ve seen in recent memory. We aren’t going to see that every night, but it is good to know the physicality can be there when needed.
The Blues lost the shot battle.
This one is not a big deal from a pure statistical standpoint. It is a big deal in terms of giving your goaltender too much work.
The Blues made a bad habit of overworking their goaltender last season, especially during the playoffs. Hopefully it is not a trend continuing into this year.
Dallas peppered the St. Louis net with 40 shots. Sure, the Blues only let up two goals but you cannot count on that every time. 40 is just a number that cannot be accepted too many times during a year. It is not a recipe for success.
Jake Allen was on his toes.
No matter who you are, whether a flash in the pan or a Hall of Fame goaltender, you are going to have fans that just don’t like you. That is what the Snake has right now.
In some people’s eyes, he can do no right. He should have found a way to not allow two goals in their minds.
That is just not reality. The reality is that Dallas would have tied the game, if not won it, if not for Allen.
He made several quality stops, including two different ones on the doorstep.
Allen’s stats might not be what we’d like right now, but he’s getting the job done. He has won both his starts, made the saves he has needed to make and quite a few that he should not have made.
He’s getting the job done with the Blues and he was a big reason the Blues knocked off the Stars.
The Blues have odd defensive lapses.
Normally, you can chalk the Blues defensive problems up to lack of effort. That has not really been the case this season, but they are still allowing goals that could have been prevented.
Often times, it is a failure to clear the puck or taking a silly penalty. The bottom line is the Blues are shooting themselves in the foot a little too often.
The Stars first goal was just a lucky deflection. The Blues could have not taken the penalty though.
The second goal saw a failure to win a couple board battles lead to a score against. These things can and do happen, but the Blues still need to clean them up a little.
The defense is stepping up offensively.
Last season, the media was jumping all over the Blues for trading Kevin Shattenkirk. We’ll leave the fact they only follow hockey part time alone, but it was a shortsighted view point.
They questioned how the Blues power play would go and where the point production would come from on the blue line.
The team is answering those questions early on. The power play will work itself out, hopefully. The Blues are getting lots of scoring early on from the blue line though.
Three goals in the first game and then two against Dallas. The players to score against Dallas were especially surprising.
Not only are the defenders scoring but they’re joining the attack. None of the goals scored by defenders have come from the point.
All of the guys are jumping into the play and scoring from areas more known for forwards. That is the way the game is going and if the Blues are doing it well this early, it means good things.
The Blues are 2-0.
We can pick apart things here and there, but the overall performances have been there. There are going to be excuses during any season.
This team was not prepared or that team was playing on short rest, etc. The bottom line is the Blues beat the teams set in front of them.
They came out and took care of business. When a season is over, nobody will care if this goal could have been prevented or this situation could have been different. They will care about the wins and losses.
St. Louis has played two teams that many expect to be competing for high level things at the end of the season. They beat them both.
We can talk or others can talk all they want about what Pittsburgh or Dallas is or is not right now. The bottom line is that the Blues defeated them and have two wins in their back pocket.
Keep winning and who cares how it gets done. They are not all going to be pretty.