The St. Louis Blues had an excellent chance for revenge and to enter their bye week on a high note. They had it within their grasp and then watched it slip away like sand falling through your fingers.
The St. Louis Blues came out about as well as you could want against the Florida Panthers. They scored two quick goals and had some good play in the first period.
However, it seemed to be fools gold that had us all believing in the positives when the negatives were slapping us in the face.
Despite the team holding a seemingly commanding lead, they were badly outshot, out-chanced, outhit and more. Still, as we saw plenty of times in the early part of the 2017-18 season, the Blues were able to win games even when they were not playing their best.
So, we hoped that was going to happen in this one. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down.
The lead evaporated in front of the eyes of everyone. St. Louis managed to regain the lead by putting themselves up 3-2, but that was still not enough.
Florida would score four unanswered goals after that. St. Louis would get a late score, but an empty net goal would push the differential back to three.
While the goal difference was the same as the first one, it is hard to differentiate if this game was better or worse than the first game in Florida.
The Blues were never in that game, so this one had more positives. However, it might be a bigger negative to be in control twice and then lose so badly.
We could go on and on, but let us get into the specifics.
Jake Allen got no support again and this time there was little doubt it affected him.
Let’s not mince words here. Allen has been hung out to dry in several of his last few games, the game in Philadelphia in particular.
That said, he played a big part in this loss and not in a good way. Allen played well to start the game and was a big reason the Blues were ahead.
However, once goals started getting by him, he seemed to lose a little composure. Pucks started squeaking inside the post that would not normally score.
Add in the loose defensive style the Blues have adopted of late and you have a recipe for disaster.
There is no denying that Allen has to take some blame for this one. The iffy goals allowed came at a point when the team needed some big saves to bail them out and instead they were met with more adversity.
With St. Louis being a baseball town, it all reminds me of a lineup that is struggling top to bottom. The more one group tries to fix the problem for another, the more problems they cause.
Allen couldn’t bail out the defense’s problems and once he started showing cracks, the defense got even worse in an attempt to make up for his mistakes.
Vladimir Tarasenko kept up his hot streak.
It’s almost sad that the Blues have wasted some really fine games by their star. He now has three goals in his last five games and six points in that span.
He’s taken charge and loosened up his own game enough to let him relax. On top of that, he’s been more vocal as well, which is something the team needs.
Tarasenko assisted on the team’s second goal and put them ahead early in the second period as well.
When your superstar steps up to lead the team and everyone else falters, it makes you sad as a fan. That should have been a moment for the team to rally and get in line.
Instead it went south from there.
The power play continues to be awful and give up chances the other way.
Whether it is five on five or with a man advantage, the Blues have a knack for giving up odd man rushes the other way. When your power play is truly awful, it makes things even worse when the opponent can have more shots than you do.
The Blues just seem to have absolutely no chemistry with a man advantage. Passes never hit the tape and shots are not taken or easily turned aside.
It was a bad play that got a defenseman turned around that led to the break and Florida made the Blues pay.
At that point, even if you don’t score, you’re still down by two. The fourth goal for St. Louis might have made it interesting, but it was a footnote instead because of this garbage.
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Regardless of allowing the goal here, the team has done this constantly. I honestly cannot recollect a team allowing more chances against on their own power play.
The Blues scored four goals.
It sounds like reaching for something, but this actually is important. St. Louis had not scored more than three goals in a game since December 9.
Even though they lost, due to a combination of things, it was important for them to actually get goals. Additionally, they saw plenty of spark from some guys they’ve needed it from.
The Blues scored first, got goals from guys they’ve needed to step up and got plenty of them. Normally, that doesn’t turn south.
St. Louis missed too many opportunities.
You score four goals and that should be a good thing. It is. However, St. Louis could have easily had three or four more of their own.
Credit does have to go to James Reimer, who made some quality saves. That said, the Blues have to finish eventually.
Ivan Barbashev had another good overall performance, but was set up at least twice to score and could not convert. He was not the only one, but those spring to mind since the radio broadcast team brought him up specifically.
On top of missing opportunities, the team just is not taking them. 30 shots sounds fine, but look who took them.
Other than Tarasenko’s 4, Thompson led the team with 5 and Kyle Brodziak had 3. Your leading shooters were your star, a rookie and a fourth line player.
That just can’t be the case. I’m as high on Thompson as anyone, but you can’t have a rookie be your leading shot taker. A fourth line player should not have the third most shots taken. I mean for crying out loud, Jay Bouwmeester had three shots of his own too.
The silver linings have tarnished.
This is a team with way too much talent to be pulling the crap they are doing. Maybe they were punching above their weight class at the start of the year, but this is far too below their ability as well.
The defenders are not defending at all. Their feet are in quicksand, they can’t get pucks out with regularity and they’re not joining the offense the way they used to – or if they are, it’s at the wrong time and they get caught up.
The forwards are still not getting it done. They aren’t forechecking with enough ferocity, they are not getting enough dirty goals and they are not shooting from the hard areas of the ice. There is a lot of puck-watching being done by them as well.
The goaltending is being affected by it all. Carter Hutton put it off for longer, but between two bad games for Allen and one mediocre game for Hutton, the goalies are starting to feel the pinch as well. They’re pressing, trying to make the saves to keep the team in things and it’s throwing their game and their angles off a bit.
The entire team is searching for something right now and they better find it within. No trade is likely coming or not one as significant as fans want. No coaching change is going to be made to spark things.
These players better figure it out. We’ve talked at length about breaks and rest and this or that. They have to just get it done, no excuses anymore.