St. Louis Blues: Pros And Cons From Game 13 Against LA Kings

St. Louis Blues right wing Scottie Upshall, right, reacts after he assisted on a goal by defenseman Carl Gunnarsson in the second period during a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Blues won, 4-2. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
St. Louis Blues right wing Scottie Upshall, right, reacts after he assisted on a goal by defenseman Carl Gunnarsson in the second period during a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Blues won, 4-2. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Blues were hoping to close the month out strong, but they had some mighty opposition in front of them with a game against Los Angeles. A game that the Blues could easily have given away turned out to be another solid performance.

If ever there was a game you might be willing to forgive the St. Louis Blues for, had they slipped up, it would have been this one. Their 13th game of the season, against the Los Angeles Kings, was anything but unlucky.

The Blues came out reasonably well in the opening of the game, though they looked shaky in the first 90 seconds. St. Louis allowed a top notch scoring chance 1:22 into the game after a turnover. Jake Allen was up to the task stopping the shot from the slot.

After that, things settled in for the game. It was a scoreless first, which was good from the Blues perspective since the Kings were tied with St. Louis for the most goals in the Western Conference.

Then the Blues managed to strike. Three goals in the second, matched by two for the Kings. However, the Blues were not going to be denied.

It was not always the prettiest of performances, but St. Louis got it done as they have all season.

Pros:

Jake Allen keeps getting it done.

This was not his best game statistically, but he was very good again. Another game with a save percentage above .900 (.927 this time). 26 saves might not seem like too many, but the Kings were buzzing at different points.

Allen was tested with that early chance discussed above. Then there was a difficult flurry of chances with about five minutes left in the opening period.

The defense came to his aid, only allowing nine third period chances but Allen was still able to keep the Kings at bay.

The Snake continues to impress.

Cons:

The power play continues to struggle.

It appears as though those couple goals on the man-advantage against Calgary were the exception, not the rule. The Blues power play continues to put up a whole lot of nothing.

They went 0/2 with a man power advantage against the Kings. You could say ripping the power play in this game is a bit unfair and you would not be totally incorrect.

Both came at the end of the first period and the beginning of the second. Any time you split up a power play, you take away any momentum built up and those center-ice faceoffs make it harder to gain the zone at times.

Still, it is another failed five-on-three advantage for the Blues. St. Louis continues to fail to capitalize on those and you should be making your opponent pay every single time.

Pros:

The Blues best are doing the dirty work.

It’s great to come up with goals or fancy plays. When your stars are getting their noses dirty and putting in the hard work, it trickles down. After all, if one of the superstars of the game is going into the corners and blocking shots, how can everyone else not?

Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz combined for seven hits and two blocked shots. These are not the guys you expect to be team leaders in those categories, so they are really leading by example.

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To show they are leading by example, Dmitrij Jaskin was actually the team leader in hits. Yes, he’s playing on the “fourth” line right now, but he’s been anything but a physical force during his career.

He’s taking his lead from the guys in front of him though. This Blues team is not nearly as heavy as they have been in the past, but when your team leaders are doing just that in the dirty areas of the game, you can’t help but admire it.

Cons:

Turnovers finally bite the Blues.

We’ve been wondering when it would happen, since the Blues have been flirting with disaster, but it happened in this game. With St. Louis looking to play faster and get more long passes going, it might happen quite a bit.

Fortunately for St. Louis, this time it did not cost them anything more than a single goal. Still, it was a turnover that led to the stretch pass that scored the Kings’ breakaway.

Turnovers are part of the game. You will never eliminate them all. Still, the Blues get a little lax with the puck every now and then. Hopefully they are not made to pay on those instances too often during the season.

On this one instance there was a lot of bad luck. A broken stick on the zone exit led to some confusion in the neutral zone and that ended with the gap up the middle.

Pros:

Carl Gunnarsson keeps finding the back of the net.

You’re never going to confuse Gunny for an offensive defenseman. However, he seems to be flourishing under Mike Yeo and Darryl Sydor this season.

Gunnarsson now has three goals on the season. That’s as many as his last two years combined.

Gunnarsson clearly benefited from some traffic in front, but the fact that he’s actually shooting is a big plus. The last few seasons, the Blues have had no threat from the blue line whatsoever. The fact that someone like Gunnarsson is going to make defenses think twice about backing off is a huge bonus.

Pros:

St. Louis got to Quick early.

You might not call goals in the second period early, but St. Louis scoring the first two had a huge affect. You could see it in the body language of Jonathan Quick after the second goal.

Quick was never taken out of the game mentally, but St. Louis put him on edge. Quick is very much like Ed Belfour of old. If you let him get hot, there is no beating him. If you get a couple goals in a row, you rattle him just enough to let frustration set in.

Quick was wondering if his defenseman tipped Vladimir Tarasenko’s shot instead of admitting his positioning was questionable and it was a heck of a shot. Then Jaden Schwartz’ rebound got him off his game, even if only for a moment. When dealing with one of the league’s elite, a moment is all you need sometimes.

Overall Thoughts:

The Blues solidify themselves as the best in the conference.

It’s early. It’s October. Yada yada yada. We can say all these things to calm ourselves down or prepare ourselves for the inevitable losing streak that will happen at some point in the season.

Some of that is actually taking credit away from how the Blues have actually played though. This game was for the top spot in the Western Conference through one month of games and the Blues came out on top.

The Blues deserved to win as well. They did not play a perfect game, but they outplayed the Kings overall.

Next: Still Far Off, But The Blues Should Go Old School In January

We saw the usual suspects in terms of bad things like losing the overall faceoff battle and the typical power play issues, but they overcame them.

It is way too early to judge this team, for good or bad. However, through one month, they are reminding me of the Rams of 1999.

We keep looking to the next game to be the real test and the Blues pass it. Maybe we need to consider that this team is for real.