The St. Louis Blues entered their final game of 2017 coming off one of their most disappointing performances of the year. They finished the calendar year on a high note.
The St. Louis Blues sure sent us on a roller coaster throughout the year of 2017. Whether it was the Winter Classic or needing a coaching change or a solid playoff run, they went up and down. That carried into this season as the team got off to an unbelievable start, only to crash a bit toward the end.
Why would we think it would go any differently in the final game of the calendar year. While the team ended up winning, this one game sort of piled all the good and bad from the entire year into one 60 minute capsule.
The Blues had a fabulous start, scoring a goal less than a minute into the game. They scored less than a minute into the second period as well, but saw a two goal lead evaporate into nothing.
Just when it seemed thing were about to turn sour for the night, they were rescued by an unlikely hero. Much as they’ve done throughout the last two seasons, the Blues relied on their goaltender to bail them out at the end.
St. Louis got the win and all fans are greatful. However, it seemed to be more of a relief than jubilation.
Kyle Brodziak was a man possessed for much of the game.
The Blues fourth line center got moved around in this game and he seemed to get a jolt in the arm because of it. Starting the game on a line with Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund, he made the most of it right away, scoring the first goal of the game.
What was nice about the goal was its simplicity. Brodziak didn’t try anything fancy. There were no toe drags or pass attempts back toward the circle.
He was in the slot and he shot it. He got rewarded with a goal.
Brodziak continued his great night by getting an assist on the team’s second goal. While he would go quiet statistically the rest of the night, he seemed to really find some good chemistry on what seemed like a mismatched line on paper.
Carter Hutton kind of spoiled his own night.
Hutton was fantastic in this game, make no mistake. However, he has to shoulder some blame on the goals given up.
The Hurricanes’ first goal came on an unfortunate bounce that sprang a breakaway for the man out of the penalty box. Nevertheless, the goal scorer came from a sharp angle and Hutton needed to do better.
On the second goal, Hutton takes no blame on the actual shot that scored. However, he’s way too square to the passer, leaving a gaping net if a pass gets back out in front, which it did.
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He made up for it all with some key saves down the stretch. However, if you’re going to blame Jake Allen for some of the ones that got by him in recent games, you have to be fair and call out Hutton a bit as well.
The entire roster experiment seemed to work very well.
If the Brodziak goal were not enough, the fact Scottie Upshall scored seemed to cement the idea that this roster shakeup worked.
You could even argue that Berglund’s goal was part of this shakeup as well. That’s a little more of a stretch, but it could be argued for.
Regardless, it seemed to work. You get two typically fourth liners scoring goals. The Blues seemed to have plenty of jump since they had to be ready to have their number called at a moment’s notice.
Even the defenders seemed to play well in spite of the fact that there were often no set pairings, since they had seven defensemen dressed.
This is not a lineup that you can roll out there game in and out. It would be surprising if we see the same roster in the next game, in fact.
The message was sent and received though.
The Blues blew the lead again.
For the second night in a row, the Blues could not hold onto a lead. This one was not as crushing and might have been semi-expected.
It is no less disheartening to watch it happen though. As pointed out in the Hutton section, there were things on each goal that could have prevented both of them.
You can technically say that about any goal, but these, in particular, could have been prevented.
Sadly, the first goal is probably one of the reasons the Blues power play is so bad. They’re afraid to shoot because they don’t want the puck clearing the zone the way it did.
It seems like the more these things happen, the less definable a solution becomes. It is easy for us to sit here and say play tougher and do more defensively. But, regardless of what us internet warriors say, it is not like this team is not trying.
However, the goals against seem to affect them much more lately than earlier in the season where they would respond quickly.
The Blues closed out 2017 as well as they could.
That statement is a bit loaded. Anything other than a regulation loss could have been categorized as such given how poorly December has gone.
Still, the Blues looked like a solid team capable of returning to form. Of course, it is only one game, but it was good to see shades of the team we saw back in the early fall.
There is still tons that this team can and must do better. For one night, though, it was nice to just focus on one game.
We’ll worry about the technicalities and negatives later on. Right now, it’s just nice to not have to spend New Year’s depressed about another losing streak.
St. Louis did do the same thing right before Christmas, but it is what it is. They won this game and can hopefully build on that in 2018.
Happy New Year to you all.