The St. Louis Blues needed to achieve just one thing in their game in Buffalo. While they did what they set out to do, it was far from pretty getting there.
The St. Louis Blues went into Buffalo with one goal in mind. They took that idea a little too literally en route to winning their 32 game of the season.
The Blues just can’t seem to get amped up against lesser competition. While Buffalo has way too much talent compared to your stereotypical last place team, there is still a reason they are in last.
Buffalo should not have given the Blues as much trouble as they did. Nevertheless, the Sabres were difficult to dispose of in both games.
When St. Louis beat Buffalo back in December it took overtime before the Blues found victory. It seemed this game would go the same route, as neither team could find the back of the net until the Blues scored with less than six minutes left.
It was far from a satisfying victory, but that doesn’t matter right now. Even with a couple months left in the season, St. Louis has to attain every point they can to keep pace with their ridiculous division. They can worry about style another time.
Carter Hutton pitched another shutout.
I still maintain the Blues would have been smart to give Jake Allen another start, but the results speak for themselves. Hutton is on a tear.
It is not as though Buffalo challenged him a great deal. 27 shots against is not going to get the blood pumping too much.
However, to counter that, the Blues allowed some prime scoring chances to the Sabres. Buffalo had four power plays, which gave Hutton plenty of time to get warmed up.
Additionally, the Sabres forced a dazzling save toward the end of the game.
As a goaltender, I can tell you Hutton knew as much about that save as I know about trigonometry – not much. That takes no credit away from getting to it though. Sometimes you just have to put yourself in the right position and good things happen. They did there and they have for Hutton.
Even as a fan of the Snake, it is becoming harder and harder to argue against playing the Hutt.
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The Blues continue to make too many passes.
Sometimes you can only learn so much from radio broadcasts. Sometimes you learn a lot.
Frankly, it’s getting extremely tiresome to continually hear “one pass too many and (insert team name) is off to the races.”
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The Blues are getting terrible at making that extra pass and not even hitting the target. Too often that extra pass is leading to a turnover and a breakout for the opponent.
It happened at least twice against Buffalo and likely more times. Not every time led to a shot against or scoring chance, but the mere fact of the turnovers is discouraging.
It is not just mid-level players. Guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, who should be a shooter, and Paul Stastny are guilty of it a lot. Guys are not even looking at the net sometimes because they want that pass.
Carl “Boom Boom” Gunnarsson set a career high.
Gunnarsson’s game winning goal was his fifth of the season, setting a new career high. He is unlikely to eclipse a career best in points, but you take the small victories when you get them.
Gunnarsson got off to a brilliant start to the season and then hit a wall, production wise. Three of his five goals came within the first month of games and then he had nothing.
Things got so bad for Gunnarsson that he’s been a healthy scratch the last three games. Much of that had nothing to do with his play. Most of it was due to the Blues wanting to keep three right handed D-men and three lefties. Gunnarsson was just the odd man out in that scenario.
Still, it was good to see him get back in there and produce once again. Additionally, the shot was a nice one.
Credit to Stastny for winning the faceoff in a key time of the game. More credit to Gunnarsson for sending it on net.
Perhaps these goals are what make the Blues extra passing so frustrating. It was a seemingly innocent shot, but everything went right. Vladimir Sobotka was in front of the net, screening. The shot was taken and went in even though it had little business scoring.
We need to see more of that and don’t seem to see any changes at all.
The Blues fail to dominate again.
Nine shots spread over a period is better than eight shots in the final two minutes, like we saw against Montreal. However, these slow, uninspired starts are getting old.
Additionally, the Blues are too good to be in these nail biters against the league’s cellar dwellers.
This is the NHL and there are no easy games, blah blah etc. Yes, you’ll lose a bad game here or there, but the Blues cannot seem to put these kinds of teams to bed early and often.
If you get the W, a win is a win, but you’re wasting so much energy. It would be so much easier on the team to come out, crush their hopes in the first two periods and then be able to coast.
Instead, St. Louis tries to coast from the start, thinking showing up is enough. Then they have to crank up the dial late in the game after you’ve spent much of your energy reserve already.
It’s not the end of the world to only beat Buffalo by one, but it would just be nice to not have to worry at the end of all these games.
Simply not good enough, despite the win.
Normally I’m a win is a win person. The string of poor games, win or lose, is becoming irritating.
The Blues had their annual dads’ trip. Normally you see some of the best hockey the team can muster. Instead, we saw a team closer to what caused their putrid December and early January instead of the team we hope is the real Blues.
Chances are not taken. Turnovers are becoming the norm. Defense is optional in key spots. It’s too much for a good team.
You simply cannot expect a shutout every single night. It does not matter if Hutton or Allen is in, you are putting too much pressure on the goaltender to have a flawless night every time out and most times asking them to be superhuman in addition.
No names were mentioned, but even the radio crew brought up the idea of a trade to shake this team up. They were not advocating for it, but merely saying it might be what this squad needs.
That is very true, but very discouraging. They should be beyond the point of sending out a name player for the sake of sending a message. However, it seems like this team needs a message every other year. We keep hoping the message is taken, but maybe not.
For this game, the win is fine. In the grand scheme, it does not build much confidence.