The St. Louis Blues had a marquee matchup against the team they’ve been dueling with for the top spot in the NHL standings on Wednesday. The end result was not what fans wanted, but it was an entertaining view nonetheless.
The St. Louis Blues were going to be hard pressed to pick up a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning if they had a full roster. They did not have a full roster and you could see it at times.
Even with that said, the Blues had their chances to win in the league’s marquee game on Wednesday. They played very well against the best in the east and gave them every thing they had.
It would have been interesting to see how this game would have transpired if the Blues had their full compliment of players. Still, the lack of health was not the reason the Blues could not pull off the win in this one.
On one hand you’re disappointed. On the other hand, you have to be proud of the way the team played with their backs up against the wall.
St. Louis is now done with Tampa this year unless a special playoff matchup happens. Plenty of time to wait before wondering about that.
The misses and the passes.
The Blues were gripping their sticks too tightly as the saying goes. Maybe they were trying too hard or maybe they felt the pressure of facing the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Whatever the reason, they were their own worst enemy on several trips into the offensive zone.
Too many trips into the zone ended up with what felt like 50 passes and no real chance on net. Some of the team’s best scorers, such as Vladimir Tarasenko and others, were passing up good looks.
This is nothing new for St. Louis. For years they’ve looked to set up the pretty, one-time goal instead of putting pucks on net and going for rebounds.
Compounding the problem was when the Blues did take shots, they’d miss and miss badly at times. Tarasenko missed a semi-breakaway to the left of the net. You have to make the goaltender make a save in that instance.
Lots of pucks missed the net. Not to point a finger too much, but the worst was clearly Vladimir Sobotka‘s.
In case you missed that game, that puck ends up going wide, through the crease. That would have tied the game and instead the Bolts would add an insurance goal later on. An incredibly frustrating night from that aspect.
The Blues did force a top game from the opposing goaltender.
We can talk about the misses and the lack of shots all we want, but the Blues did create some chances. They forced a very good game from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Some people might scratch their heads at this, but both things can be true. The Blues passed up on opportunities, but the ones they had were pretty good and Vasilevskiy was up to the task of stopping them.
Just because we are frustrated with the Blues lack of goals does not mean you can’t put credit where it is due. On a normal night, the Blues probably find a way to get a goal or even win this game.
The Blues mistakes ended up being costly.
For a good 90% of the game, the Blues played a solid game. They had a good game plan and were stifling one of the league’s top offenses.
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However, the few mistakes they made were capitalized on. The initial goal was a lack of communication on a loose puck. The brief indecisiveness allowed Tampa to come down on the break. It still took a lucky goal to get past Jake Allen, but it counts just the same whether it was clean or off a weird scramble.
The second goal was a terrific snipe for the Lightning. Still, the Blues ended up screening their own goaltender better than any of the Tampa players could have.
Lastly, the third goal saw Colton Parayko get caught on the pinch. The Blues were pressuring incredibly, but could not score and that third goal was the final nail in the coffin when Parayko could not keep the puck in.
The Blues won a lot of battles.
Whether you’re talking about faceoffs, hits, blocks or actual board battles, the Blues were putting in yeoman’s work. For whatever reason, they just could not get the rewards in terms of scoring.
We all get frustrated when the team cannot score and nitpick the offense, but this kind of effort wins on many nights. When you’re playing a team that made almost no mistakes though, even winning the small battles is not often enough.
The Blues still did what they needed to do in many aspects. Their shot blocking ability probably kept a good two or three goals off the board.
The inability to stay out of the penalty box.
St. Louis continues to take penalties at some of the most inopportune times. Regardless of opponent, they are just in the box way too much.
Some might say three penalties against is not bad and they are not wrong. However, when you’re facing the best power play in the NHL, you don’t want to give them those chances.
Even if you do kill them off, this is time not spent trying to score, which was tough enough as it is.
The penalty kill.
If you say taking the penalties is a bad thing, then you have to recognize the team’s ability to kill them off in this one.
Allen made some good saves, the defenders blocked some shots and they were able to clear the puck when needed. More importantly, the Blues won some key faceoffs that did not allow the Lightning to set up immediately.
As the announcing crew said, it is hard to believe the team’s PK is ranked so low based on the way they played in this game. It would be nice to see this kind of intensity every time.
A good effort is not good enough.
As I said on Twitter, I’m never really OK with a loss. As a fan, we always see ways that the outcome could have and should have been different.
That said, these are the kinds of games I’ve talked about a lot. You’re not OK with the loss, but you can’t really be mad either.
Considering the Blues lost four key players within the span of a week, it was good to see this kind of effort on the ice. The Blues did not allow the injuries to be an excuse in this one and they easily could have.
Instead, they just allowed a couple key mistakes to be their downfall. As mentioned several times above, this kind of effort is not going to lose many games. It was just the Blues were up against it in this one.
They faced a goliath in terms of offense. They were also going up against a goaltender that refused to be beaten. That combination is hard to beat on any night.
St. Louis will be fine going forward. Now, they just need to hope they can get a few guys back into the lineup so there is not so much pressure on others.