The St. Louis Blues had every reason to come out strong in their second game against the Islanders this season. Instead, it ended up being one of those games that nothing went right.
The St. Louis Blues had plenty going on in their minds for their second game of the season against the New York Islanders. Not all of it was hockey related.
The team lost one of their biggest fans. It was also Veteran’s Day, so there was a lot of extra pageantry surrounding the game that could (emphasize the word could) have been a distraction.
None of these things can really be used as excuses. The Blues just did not come out and execute when you boil everything down.
It was by no means their worst game of the season. It was just one of those games where you never get things rolling. The engine just would not turn over, so to speak.
Maybe you blame it on the curse of the pregame ceremony. This is purely anecdotal, but pregame ceremonies in the NHL always seem to negatively impact the home team. Whether it is number retirements or raising championship banners, the length of time after warmups and before puck drop seems to have an impact.
Again, not an excuse, but nothing to completely shrug off. Speaking of shrug, hopefully the Blues will be able to put this one behind them quickly.
The loss of Ari.
Might as well just get this one out there right off the bat. A sweet little girl, who just happened to be a gigantic Blues fan, was taken from this world all too soon.
Afflicted with neuroblastoma, she finally succumbed to the disease after fighting so gallantly. Many of the members of the team, Vladimir Tarasenko in particular, had grown very close to her and were likely affected by her loss.
As fans, we can all want to rally around and hope the team would play well for her memory, but these guys are just human. Grief does not always give a player superhuman abilities, despite the number of times we have seen such instances in sports.
Maybe her loss had an affect on the team and maybe it did not. Only each individual player can truly know that.
It would not surprise me in the least if it did though. Her story was very inspirational and even those of us that did not know her were saddened at her passing, so we can only imagine the potential affect on those that had grown to know her.
The Blues fought back.
Focusing more on the actual game, you have to say that the Blues never really gave in. They did not have enough within themselves in this game to get the job done, but they never gave up.
In the past, we’ve seen plenty of heads go down and the effort level be almost nonexistent. Not so in this game.
St. Louis kept plugging away and doing everything they could to attempt a comeback. It just was not enough.
They had some bad luck along the way. They ran into an extremely hot goaltender who made some freakishly ridiculous saves. They also hit some pipes as well.
Those are the shots that have gone in the majority of the season so far. In this one, the Blues just did not have the puck luck or the hockey gods were not on their side (no blasphemy intended).
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There does not seem to be anything to worry about long term here. St. Louis gave a decent effort overall and just could not find any reward.
They will have to work on some of their defensive positioning as a five man unit though.
The Blues allowed the bad luck to affect them too much.
I’m not talking about having a bad attitude or being all “woe is me”. It is simply having things not work out on the offensive end and letting it affect your transition the other way.
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Three of the Islanders five goals came immediately after the Blues could/should have scored goals of their own.
Whether it was hitting the post or having a big save against them, St. Louis just had too much of a lapse going the other way. Not all three goals were breakaways, or even close, but there were large gaps between the forwards and defenders.
Sometimes the forwards were a tiny bit lazy on the backcheck and sometimes the defenders were way too flat footed.
Jake Allen really did not have a chance on any of the goals. If you really want to be picky, he could have done much better on the second goal. There was little need for such a rebound and the backhander was weak.
Still, Vince Dunn was too weak on his man who ended up scoring.
Brayden Schenn continues to make the trade look like a Lou Brock type of steal.
I know it is early in the season but Schenn has been nothing but good for the Blues. He’s had two goals in his last three game and nine points in his last four.
He has consistently been the Blues best faceoff artist too. Some nights that is not saying much, but it is still true.
Overall, he and his line still gave the Blues their best chances to shine in this one. That’s the kind of leadership by example that you’ll need in those tough games in May.
The Blues defense was very weak.
We touched on it a bit above, but it bears repeating. The defense was probably the main reason the team lost this game.
Yes, you need to score more and yes, we’ve become accustomed to the goaltenders making big saves to keep these sorts of avalanches happening. The defense gave little to no support throughout the night though.
Parayko just seemed off the entire game. A foolish cross-ice pass almost led to a breakaway later in the game when the Blues still had life.
Neither player, or any of the defenders, were very strong behind the net. Everyone was backing off and allowing too much real estate.
Even when they picked up their game, it wasn’t the usual team defense we’ve seen. They were too detached as a five-man unit.
Call me an optimist, but I see this as a one-off.
There was little positive to be gleaned out of this one. However, there was not enough bad going on to see any real trends coming out of it.
There were some missed calls by the officials and there was some bad luck for the Blues and good luck for the Islanders. There may not have been enough moments where you could say the Blues ever had a chance at winning this one, but you have those games over the course of a season.
Other than the defending issue and getting the lines back on a cohesive flow up and down the ice, there really are not a ton of teaching moments from this game. It, more than some of the others, seems like just one of those games.
Of course, the team’s next game in Calgary on Monday will prove that thought right or wrong. For now, no need to worry about it too much other than being down about losing a game.