The St. Louis Blues took on their oldest rival in their seventh game of the season. The narrative of the team changed quite a bit after one performance.
My, oh my how your perception of a team can change after one good or bad performance. That has been the roller coaster ride of the St. Louis Blues during the young 2017-18 season.
Those of use with the sense of the long-term nature of a season know that you cannot put too much in any one performance during a hockey season. That is why 4-2 couldn’t be seen as the ultimate high when the team was 4-0 or the ultimate low when they were 0-2 the next two games.
Some people get that invested in each game. Talk radio hosts like to stir the pot as well because they need filler topics and getting people riled up equals ratings. There just was not enough negative during that two-game losing streak to really fear the end was nigh.
Even if the Blues lost to Chicago, it is just too early to tell what might happen this season. They did not lose though and it was quite entertaining to watch.
Jaden Schwartz‘ hat trick.
The Blues have not seen a hat trick in quite some time. Ok, it’s only been February when the last one happened, but there has not been one in St. Louis since December of 2016.
The best part of it was that Schwartz spread out the production. He got a goal in each period and considering the Blackhawk’s goaltender was sharp during the game, it was a well-earned hatty as well.
Schwartz has five goals on the young season and is on pace for a special year. That benefits the Blues because if you can get another guy in the 20-30 goal range, the team’s offense will be much harder to stop.
The Blues power play.
Just when you think the team gets a power play goal or two and might have righted the ship, they throw that back in your face. St. Louis went 0-5 on the man-advantage in an important rivalry game.
Clearly it did not impact the outcome in this game, but eventually you have to make team’s pay for putting themselves in the box. One can argue that Chicago made themselves pay by not having 5v5 ice time. That’s an argument of someone searching and quite hard.
St. Louis did a good job of setting play up. They were decent at winning faceoffs. You do need to give credit to Chicago’s PK and goaltending, but overall the Blues just did not get the job done.
Another 5v3 went by the wayside as well. It is becoming rather embarrassing to see the team’s inability to get the puck in the net on the power play.
It cost the Blues the series against Nashville last year. It could cost the team down the road. Time will tell, but there is too much talent (at least on that top unit) to keep having goose eggs on the score sheet for the power play.
Jake Allen came up big again.
Credit has to go to the team’s defense. They limited chances against one of the league’s best offenses and kept shots away from mostly dangerous areas.
Still, the Blackhawks are the Blackhawks. They find ways to create offense and Allen was up to the task for almost the entire night.
It was extremely unfortunate for Allen not to get the shutout. There was a double-minor handed out and the Blues lost the shutout almost immediately. Then there was a questionable goal allowed on what appeared to many to be a goaltender interference call.
Nevertheless, Allen was sharp. There were a couple times in the game where he over-extended himself and got too far from the crease, but the defenders had his back in those scenarios.
It was a very good give and take. Allen bailed out the few defensive mistakes and the team bailed him out if he was too aggressive.
It was a good bounce back game after some disappointing performances in Florida.
Too many penalties.
The Blues penalty kill was almost perfect and deserved a better result than they ultimately got, like Allen. Regardless of how the PK unit played, the team cannot go into the box so much.
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The Blues had a great combination of playing well and Chicago being just a little bit off. That is not going to happen night after night.
You go into the box and give your opponent seven power plays and you are not going to get away with it too often. Even if you have the best penalty kill in the league, you cannot give opponents that many chances.
Not every penalty was deserving, but that is how the game goes. Those things even out over a year. The Blues need to stay more disciplined.
Vladimir Tarasenko is becoming more than just a great scorer.
If there is a glaring negative of Alex Ovechkin, it is his lack of emotion in some areas of the ice not around the offensive circles. The same cannot really be said of Tarasenko.
He really seems to want to excel in all areas of the game. Clearly offense and scoring are where his talents really show themselves.
Even so, he is finding ways to impact the game in all areas. He had a great goal, which we have come to expect. He also had a take away, showing his defensive side, and an assist.
Tarasenko knows he can be a decoy and uses that to his advantage now and also still has the skill to bull his way into the zone if needed. He does need teammates to step up and produce to give him more room, but he’s really becoming a truly complete player.
The potential injuries.
Nobody ended up getting knocked out of the game, but both Schwartz and Sammy Blais gave us scares. Schwartz barreled into the endboards and did not return until the second period. Blais was shaken up and did not return until the third.
Again, both players seemed to be alright or they would not have re-entered the game. Still, with a team so thin due to health issues you don’t want any players banged up again.
Those were the kinds of injuries that might feel worse the next night and with the Blues playing again, we will see if anyone is feeling the effects.
I gave it to the chicken littles in the opening, but this is just one game. The Blues had a fantastic game and are in charge of the division right now.
Emotions might shift the other way when the Blues face Colorado tonight. That’s the ebb and flow of a season though.
The Blues are going to have great games and some clunkers. We were treated to a great game and dominating performance at even strength.
Sometimes we ask why they cannot do that every night, but that will always be a mystery. The answer may simply be humans can’t do anything over and over like robots.
Even so, I’ll take games like that any night of the week. Beating the Blackhawks made it even sweeter, especially with people puckering their lips to return to that Hawks’ teat after their own good start.
The Blues are going to be in this for the long haul. They are not a flash in the pan. Consistency is the key.