St. Louis Blues: Pros And Cons From Game 43 Against Vegas

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 4: Carter Hutton
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 4: Carter Hutton /
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The St. Louis Blues came up snake eyes in their first roll of the dice against the Vegas Golden Knights. Their second time around was not a jackpot winner, but the Blues got their money’s worth.

The St. Louis Blues went all in on Carter Hutton in their second ever meeting against the Vegas Golden Knights. That’s right, the gambling references are back baby! The team’s backup had already played two games in a row, but was rewarded for his top-notch play with a third.

St. Louis managed to come out with a lot of energy in this one, but it was far from a perfect effort throughout the game. Still, these are the types of games the Blues were winning early in the year and not winning in December.

St. Louis jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on an Alexander Steen snipe. However, as good as they were in the first, they slacked off in the second, combined with a big push from Vegas.

The goal the Golden Knights scored to tie it up was a bit fortunate. Still, it was deserved given the period they had played in the middle frame.

Fortunately, the Blues picked themselves up and answered in the third. The Blues took the lead on a rare dirty goal, jamming it in after being pinned on the post.

It was a good game overall, but still leaves plenty of things for the Blues to worry about.

Pros:

Alexander Steen finally got off the schnide.

Steener’s goal to give the Blues the 1-0 lead felt like his first in forever. In actuality, it was his second in six games. However, you could also look at it as his second goal in 22 games as well. That paints a slightly different picture.

Steen remains one of the team’s better defensive players up front, but a forward in the top nine is still getting paid to score. Four goals is not cutting it when guys like Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall have more.

He did miss some time due to injury. At this stage of the game, that has nothing to do with his lack of scoring though.

For the play itself, it was a smart hockey play. Steen followed up the initial rush and then used the screen in front to get the goal.

It was not the goal of the century, but it did not need to be. The Blues needed to score first and Steen needed to get himself going.

Vegas was near unbeaten if they scored first, so the goal was important there. It also spurred Steen on to one of his best overall games of the season.

Cons:

The Blues lack of comparable speed was taken advantage of.

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St. Louis has improved its overall team speed over the last couple seasons. They still trail quite a few teams in the league and Vegas is apparently one of them.

So, you do have to give Vegas credit for their second period push. It was not as though the Blues simply loosened their grasp on the game. The Golden Knights did have something to do with it.

However, the long change with the team’s benches farther away seemed to affect the Blues a lot and Vegas not at all.

Over the years, the Blues have struggled with that very aspect of the second period many times. Whether it is a mental thing or something else, it remains somewhat of a thorn in the side of this team.

The Blues got knocked onto their heels and were actually fortunate to still be in the lead. Oddly enough, the goal Vegas did score was quite fortunate, but they could have had two or three others.

It took a lot of blocked shots and good saves to keep the game tied.

Pros:

Paul Stastny scored as well.

Stastny and Steen scoring in the same game? Better buy your lottery tickets or plan for the apocalypse. Something is off in the cosmos.

This was Stastny’s eighth goal of the season, so he’s ahead in that aspect. However, he hadn’t scored one in 11 games. It was also only his second goal in 19 games.

From the perspective of the goal alone, it was a fantastic goal to see, just from the team’s perspective.

The Blues have struggled to get to the dirty areas of the ice lately. So, seeing Stastny realize the puck was jammed up against the post and still available points to both his determination and awareness on the play.

Like Steen’s, it was not a highlight reel goal, but that’s exactly what the Blues need. They try to set up pretty goals far too often, so realizing that innocuous shots and effort can score too is important.

Overall Thoughts:

A very good effort against one of the league’s best.

That’s what is easy for fans to forget – Vegas was in first place in the conference. Too often, we see the logo on the front and not what the players have accomplished.

It’s hard for us to fathom an expansion team not being a pushover. This is one of the league’s best structured teams right now and for 40 minutes, the Blues were the far better team.

We can go into not playing a full 60 and relying on Carter Hutton too much, but they got the win and that’s enough right now.

Next: Biggest Hits And Misses Of 2017 For The Blues

Players like Robert Bortuzzo, who gets a lot of crap, made some fantastic blocks. Colton Parayko reminded us again how good he can be.

Hutton was top notch again. Let’s not go into a goalie controversy, because it’s a stupid idea, but he’s earning the time given to him right now.

Also, the Blues managed to beat two division leaders and three potential playoff teams. Who knows where Vegas will finish, but a win over them is impressive at this stage of the season.