The St. Louis Blues looked like they were going to get after things from the start in Calgary. Unfortunately, by the end of the game, they looked like a team lost, both in a literal and figurative sense.
The St. Louis Blues came out with great energy and drive when the first puck dropped in the Saddledome. However, when the final horn sounded, they looked weary, gassed and out of ideas.
That has been the last few weeks in a nutshell for the Blues. They either play like a house on fire or a team of geriatrics.
We saw both in the contest out west. The disappointing part, beyond the loss, is the team’s lack of energy by the end.
They were off for two days after their disappointment in Winnipeg. You should get more than 22 minutes of legs from that rest.
It was not the case and the Blues got steadily worse as the game wore on.
Let’s open up with something a little more positive. Tage Thompson looked like he learned a lot by playing down in the AHL. He looked like he belonged in the NHL.
Now, that can fade as quickly as it came, so let’s not start penning him into the lineup hereon out. For this night, though, he was very impressive.
He showed speed, tenacity, stick handling, hockey smarts and, perhaps most important, a willingness to shoot the puck. Some of those intangibles were present in his first four games. This was the first time we really got a sense that he’s going to be something very good in the future.
It was a shame he could not score though. He had three official shots on goal and all three had a chance to go in. He deserved to be rewarded for that effort.
That entire line.
Despite relatively no prior chemistry, they flowed around and found each other with passes as though they’d been playing together all season.
The funny thing is their success was the rest of the team’s failure. Their passes were firm, crisp and to the point. The other lines were a little flimsier in that department.
Like Thompson himself, this line was unfortunate to not put in a goal. They skated their butts off every shift.
The rest of the team.
As fantastic as that line was, the rest of the team did not even come close. Their was absolutely no chemistry at all for some reason.
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The team’s second best line was the fourth line. They just all looked discombobulated.
The passes were awful. Players would get turned around – it was like watching a figure skating competition at times.
The television crew gave Mike Smith the player of the game, but the Blues stopped testing him after the first period. Everything was one and done with no sustained pressure.
Hutton was on his game once again and he needed to be. If not for him, this game could easily have ended 3 or 4-1. Instead, he gave the Blues every chance to take a lead or tie it up.
He was extremely strong in his lateral movement and very aggressive lunging out after loose pucks. There are nights when that will get you in trouble, but he was still in control of his movements.
The defense, which did play well at times, did him few favors in front of the net. There were so many screened shots that Hutton seeing anything was a miracle.
The power play.
This one seems to get listed every game, but this time it was taken to new levels. The Blues had more quality chances against than they did on the Calgary net when the Note was on the power play.
The passing was bad enough five on five, but it was even worse on the man-advantage. It felt like every cross-ice pass would be intercepted and led to a break the other way.
There were way too many blind passes behind the net, expecting a teammate to be there when nobody was within ten yards. It was often a waste of energy. It was a real life example of the common joke that the Blues would be better off without getting power plays.
Some will point to the goal coming on the power play, but that was a single-handed effort. The fact it came a man up was almost irrelevant.
Brayden Schenn returned.
He was present on the ice, but had missed the last few games in terms of what we had come to expect. This was much more the Schenn we’ve fallen in love with this season.
His goal really was a one-man effort. He blew by the initial defender and then just powered a shot past Smith.
Yes, there was an assist on the play and yes, it did come on the power play. As mentioned previously, it was mostly irrelevant.
Schenn did all the heavy lifting and then put it home. Hopefully, this will break him out of his small funk, but sadly it did not spark the team enough.
Simply not good enough.
Those that have followed this space long enough know that I’m always looking for the good in every situation. I defend the team to the last.
This game was just aggravating though. It’s not as though there was no effort – there was. It was simply not good enough though.
The passing was sloppy and there were far too many turnovers. St. Louis was only charged with eight giveaways, but they were overly careless with the puck.
The passing was terrible, the power play was horrendous. The team looked like they were a man down far too often, getting trapped in their own zone.
What was more concerning was the decline in the energy level. They looked like a team rested out of the gate and it went downhill from there.
Everyone has their off days, but there should have been more in the tank after two days off. This looked like a team that had played three in four days, not one that had two days off.
The Blues better find some reserves or drink some energy drinks. There is no rest for the weary as they face Edmonton 24 hours later.