The St. Louis Blues had fans wringing their hands in worry after a poor stretch of form. While things did not make a complete turn for the better, the Blues got things back on track in Montreal.
The St. Louis Blues had plenty of people worried with their play to end November and begin December. The Blues had gone 1-3-1 in their last five games.
St. Louis did not play a perfect game against the Montreal Canadiens, by any means. However, when the final buzzer went, the Blues were on top.
The Blues got some fine performances from key guys. The team’s top lines were some of their best, overall, which had not been the case for some time.
You don’t want to say the Blues have figured things out, but this is two solid games in a row. They did not manage to win in Minnesota, but they played well and hard. They did both against the Canadiens and got rewarded for it as well.
You had to know this one was going to be first if you watched the game. The guy had a hat-trick after all.
Schenn had not even had a point in five games and managed to turn that around with a great game. After putting up goose eggs, Schenn ended up with three goals, both from skill and good fortune.
The first goal was a bit of both. Schenn scored from the left circle, catching the goaltender cheating a bit perhaps, and knocked it barely off the post on the short side.
The second was even better. A slight breakaway after a quick faceoff win and Schenn snapped it up into the roof.
The third was luck. Schenn put in good work to get into the dirty areas and then got a couple ricochets into the net for what turned out to be a game winner.
Jaden Schwartz misses on the breakaway.
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This one is not so much on Schwartz for lack of effort. It’s just that you expect one of your top three guys to score in those situations.
Schwartz got a breakaway not long after the Blues scored in the first period. If he buries that, the Blues are up 2-0 with a stranglehold on the game.
Instead, Montreal comes back and ties the game not long after. Again, it’s not so much a knock on the player himself, but the situation. The pendulum of momentum swung the other way after that failure to score and it could have proved costly.
Fourth line – Dmitrij Jaskin in particular.
The energy line, or whatever you want to call it, continued to be one of the team’s best. Jaskin, who has regularly been in the dog house in these articles, deserved some love after his performance.
All three players worked their tails off and put in some really solid minutes. They hassled the Canadiens throughout the game and also created more offensive chances than you’d normally expect from a fourth line.
Additionally, the goal they scored was something for the highlight reels. Jaskin used his speed and strength to glide by toward the end line.
Then, he made a pinpoint pass to Scottie Upshall right out in front. It was just far enough away from the goalie to avoid a poke check, but just close enough to set up Upshall for the tap-in.
Goals from the point.
All three Montreal goals came from defensemen and all three came from near the blue line. Not all of them were anyone’s fault, if any of them, but that’s something you don’t usually end up allowing.
The first goal, there was no stopping. The Blues failed to clear out the front of the net and there were several players on both sides that screened things.
The second goal was an odd, curve-ball shot. The puck fluttered along the ice and just barely snuck inside the post.
The third is one Jake Allen would like to have back. Shea Weber has one of the hardest shots in the league, but Allen saw it all the way and will stop that more times than not. Fortunately, it did not turn into a killer mistake.
There was not one big mistake on each one. Still, from an overall perspective, allowing three goals from the point is not something you want to continue. Yes, most nights you’ll take that as you pick your poison, but you also should not be allowing the defense to score that often.
This one, again, was not something anyone could change, but more of a fluke. Allen lost the blade from his right skate in the second period.
You can’t really blame the equipment for the Canadiens’ second goal, but the change might have thrown Allen off a little. If nothing else, the Blues had to risk a decent amount.
Normally goaltender changes only happen if you are playing poorly or for an injury. So, having to insert the backup at a crucial stage in the game might have turned out quite differently. Fortunately, nothing really happened in the interim. The only plausible outcome was Allen getting out of the rhythm of the game.
A lot of luck rewarded a lot of effort.
If you want to say the Blues were not rewarded for their efforts against Minnesota, this game made up for it. The Blues were the beneficiary of lots of good fortune, but they earned that good fortune too.
St. Louis battled, forced turnovers and made smart plays for much of the game. The fact their winning goal was somewhat fluky is just part of sports, but St. Louis did more than enough over 60 minutes to deserve a good bounce here or there.
The one negative not mentioned was the third line was too quiet in an overall great team game. Still, there were not too many negatives overall.
If you want to be picky, you could point out the top line (Tarasenko’s line) were on the ice for too many of the Montreal goals. With the Canadiens’ goals being difficult for anyone to alter, not much blame can be handed out.
In the end, it was a good win overall. You won’t have a ton of plays, either way, to watch on film but you got the points.