The St. Louis Blues went westward to continue their long road journey during the month of October. They ended up taking a wild ride worthy of the top amusement parks.
For whatever reason, the St. Louis Blues have done very well in the second game of back-to backs the last couple seasons. St. Louis is now 12-2 over the past to seasons in the second game (if memory serves from the Fox Sports postgame).
What is impressive about that is that the Blues have not always had to grind out those results. Often the first game was the tougher of the pair and the second one was the one they applied all the things they should have learned.
That was not necessarily the case this time. The Blues dominated around 55 minutes against the Blackhawks the night before. The following night, they played quite well but things were nothing even close to easy.
In the end, the Blues came away with two points against a division rival. Still, giving the Colorado Avalanche all the credit they are due, they posed a much bigger threat than we would have guessed.
So, let’s dive into what went right and what went wrong with this win for the Blues.
Jaden Schwartz is the real deal.
That statement seems like there was a question about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of our writers already looked at how great his start has been in this season.
So, most fans were more than aware of his talents. It was more a question of whether his current play was sustainable. He is putting those fears to rest.
The Blues got a hat-trick from Schwartz against Chicago. He came back to his former collegiate home and added another goal the night after.
Schwartz has now vaulted himself into a tie for third in goals scored and third spot alone in points. He is a man on a mission and we fans are going along for the ride.
The Blues allowed the first goal despite dominating.
Perhaps dominating is the wrong word, but the Blues were on top of things in the first period. They really had the better of the play for the most part.
Nevertheless, one penalty cost them. The Avalanche would score on the power play with about six minutes left in the first period.
The penalty itself was what it was. It was not the worst trip you’re ever going to see, but it was a trip. The Blues have done a good job killing penalties to that point, but you go into the box so many times and eventually you pay. The Blues paid on this one.
Again, it did not kill them in the long run. However, similarly to how penalties eventually catch up, eventually you won’t be able to come back. Good starts don’t always mean much and if you let the other team strike first, they might not let you back in.
Carter Hutton was very good once again.
Coming off a near-shutout performance against the New York Rangers on October 10, Hutton showed no signs of rust. He was sharp early and needed to be as the Blues got outshot in the early going of this contest.
The Hutt stopped 15 shots in the first period and 38 overall. There was literally nothing he could do about a couple of the goals. One of them his own teammate was pushed into him and ended up sitting on him for an empty net score for the Avs.
Hutton was not overly flashy, but he was brilliant when he needed to be. The defense picked him up on his rare mistakes and he took care of the rest.
It is very early in the season, only a 10th of the way through really, but if the Blues continue to get this kind of goaltending, they might be in for a fantastic run.
For now, let’s just be happy that both netminders are getting the job done in key situations.
The Blues got out-everthinged…almost.
The categories the Blues won were faceoffs (an extreme rarity) and the final score. Other than that, they won very little in terms of statistical categories.
St. Louis was outshot 41-28. They were outhit 20-10. They had fewer blocks and fewer power play goals.
This is mainly disappointing because they won all those categories (other than faceoffs) against a superior team in Chicago. Maybe it was simply the second game taking a toll, but they were unable to summon the will to win those little battles.
It did not cost them in this one, but the team needs to be ahead in those categories more often than not to keep winning.
Vince Dunn is making his case.
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The thing going wrong for Dunn is it seems almost inevitable that he will be the odd man out when the Blues get all the defensemen healthy. The thing going right is he is taking advantage of every moment to make his case to stay with the Blues.
A great goal was scored in Colorado, giving Dunn two for the season now. He is also looking a lot more comfortable and sharper on the defensive end as well.
In almost 17 minutes of ice time, Dunn had a goal, a hit and a steal. Not gaudy numbers, but impressive for a rookie only known for his offense. He also got almost two minutes of power play time also.
Dunn’s contract likely makes it easier to send him to the minors once everyone returns. His play, right now anyway, is going to give the coaching staff a heck of a decision to make when that time comes.
Another third period meltdown.
The Blues have long been a team that could not play a full 60 minutes. It has spanned more than one coaching staff, so it can only rest on the players at this point.
The problem is the lack of effort has settled into one period alone. The third period, when you want your best effort has become the team’s worst, at least in the waning moments.
In eight games, the Blues have allowed 13 goals in the third period. Surprisingly, it was only in the Tampa Bay game that those late goals have truly cost St. Louis. They’re cutting it too close though.
Colorado could have tied the game. If the rules did not allow for an extra coache’s challenge on the specific call of offside, the Blues might not have earned the two points.
It does not seem to be simple lack of effort though. The Blues just downshift a gear or two and grind the gears trying to find their feet again.
Getting outshot 11-3 in the final period is just not good enough. This is not soccer. You cannot park the bus and expect it to continually be successful.
I know it is the theme for every con we use in this series, but you simply cannot give good teams these repeated chances.
Paul Stastny gets his 600th point.
Stastny has taken a lot of grief during his career in St. Louis. Fans had a certain view of what he was going to be when he slipped on the note and he’s never lived up to that. Getting the contract he did never helped.
Still, he’s managed to get off to a good start this season himself. He also got a career milestone out of the way.
Stastny does not seem like the type that would care, but some players grip the stick a little tighter when they are waiting to surpass certain milestones. Alexander Steen took forever to score his 200th goal and seemed affected by the chase.
Now, Stastny has it out of the way and can focus solely on the game itself. Additionally, it is always good to see him take it to his old team and score one too.
This game was not the complete game we saw against Chicago, but it would be difficult to do that on successive nights. St. Louis did not make it comfortable for the fans, but they got the job done in the end.
On top of everything, the Blues are showing they are for real while exposing other things. The Avalanche came out of the gate hot and are cooling now. The same can be said of the Blackhawks, though don’t expect them to go anywhere.
The Blues have had some tough games against quality opponents and it was only toward the end of a long road trip where they stumbled. They had some bad moments against Colorado and overcame them.
Now they look to see if another team is for real or not. The next game will be the first in franchise history against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Hopefully we get the Blues team we’ve seen the last two games and really see what this team is made of.