The St. Louis Blues opened up their third game against Minnesota about as picture perfectly as you could want. It went downhill at light speed after that.
The St. Louis Blues did just about everything you could ask for at the start of their game against Minnesota. They came out with jump, energy, strong defensive and offensive play and got their rewards early.
45 seconds into the game, the Blues struck first and looked like they would be off to the races. It was as good as you could draw it up.
It seemed like just what the doctor ordered. The shot came from the point and Jaden Schwartz pounced on the rebound. It was just the kind of opening you wanted from that top line after reuniting Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The dream beginning turned into a nightmare before you fully settle into your seat. A minute and 17 seconds after the Blues scored, Minnesota would answer on a semi-questionable play from Carter Hutton. It snowballed from there and it all went bad like the snowball was heading down a 20 degree slope.
The Blues were down 3-1 after one. They were losing 5-1 after two and scored a meaningless goal toward the end of the game to make the final a 6-2 mark that seems closer than it was.
The Blues at the end of the game lacked everything they showed at the start. There was no fight or fire or leadership. The offense was nonexistent, the defense was optional and the goaltending was bad.
We can hope this was just a one-off, but the Blues have made too much of a habit of giving up and getting embarrassed in these sorts of losses.
The Blues scored first and on a dirty goal.
Maybe it’s an overused phrase, but the Blues have needed to get dirty. Too often they pass up good shots, looking to make a pretty play. Too often they are not getting to the front of the net for screens or rebounds. That changed on the first goal.
St. Louis managed to get good puck movement in the zone. Then they tossed a shot from the point – another thing lacking from recent games.
Schwartz was right there after the screen to pounce on the rebound. A normal Blues offense would have been nowhere near there and Devan Dubnyk would have easily covered the puck. Instead the Blues scored.
This one is painful for me. As someone who is a proud member of the goaltender’s union, I normally defend my brethren through thick and thin. The two netminders for the Blues were far from the main reason the team lost. They were definitely not part of any potential solution.
Hutton was not completely to blame on the first goal, though he got out of position after a post, but he put himself out of position again in a failed attempt to poke the puck to the corner on the second. Once the Wild kept the play alive, Hutton was never able to scramble back to a solid position.
The defense definitely did not help. Nevertheless, Hutton never looked completely comfortable the entire first period.
Enter Jake Allen. Allen has had some rough spots lately, but this should have been a good time for him to shine. The defense should have stepped up to help him and did the opposite. Allen crumbled as a result.
Much like Hutton, Allen put himself in no-man’s land coming out to clear a puck and not getting it out of the zone. Then, the next goal was a weak five-hole trickle.
I searched for a way to defend it, but that was the Snake’s fault. Matt Dumba should not have been that open, but Allen’s stick was nowhere near in position and the pads were not slammed together as they should have been. It’s still a long season and St. Louis will need Allen, but he’s not even giving his fans a reason to think he should return to the net yet.
St. Louis’ meaningless goal could – emphasis on could – have meaning going forward.
Once again, the Blues scored by crashing to the net. The fact they cannot get it through their heads they will have success with that tactic shows they have skulls as thick as the stereotypical cave man.
Again, the shot came from the point. Though it was blocked, the Blues scrambled and tried and fought and kept it alive. Finally Dmitirj Jaskin was able to score from just outside the paint.
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Jaskin has had a rough go in St. Louis. His time with the Blues might be dwindling, but it was good to see him manage to work his way that low.
As far as the game went, the goal could not have meant less. You’re still down by four with less than eight minutes to go. Crazier things have happened, but there was not going to be a comeback from that.
Despite that, maybe the Blues will actually focus on the fact they’ve benefited from crashing the goal. It’s unlikely, but we can hope.
There was no fight in this team.
I try to pride myself on always thinking a professional puts his best food forward and maybe some night’s it just is not there. If that team was fighting then they’re about as far away from a Cup contender as the Blues have been in years.
Fans want a big name or to make a big splash during the trade deadline. The Blues will only benefit from that so much. While scoring and defending are currently problems, there seems to be no direction within the locker room.
Guys that are supposed to be leaders are part of the problem. The rest of the team looks rudderless.
At this point, it goes beyond line combinations. The coaching staff is not putting this team in a position to win and the players are not taking it upon themselves to rectify the problem either.
Everything that was a positive about this team was a negative in this game and other recent embarrassing losses of late.
As soon as the Blues sense it is getting away from them, they give up. There is not that determination to fight back. There is no physicality or sense of urgency. They might not hang their heads like teams of the past, but they slow down and give false effort.
Just a terrible loss.
The more you try to convince yourself it is just one bad game, the more you realize the same things happen over and over.
It’s another in a string of embarrassing losses. The 3-1 score in Boston seemed close, but the Blues were never really in it. Beyond that, the Blues have lost 5-2 to Arizona, 7-4 to Florida and 6-3 against Philadelphia all within a month’s time.
The scores, as bad as they are, were closer than they deserved to be too. Despite a consistent three or four goal margin, the Blues got creamed in every sense and deserved to lose even worse.
It is one thing to lose, but to be so lacking in just about every area is beyond frustrating. This was not just one bad game.
Like the Arizona game, St. Louis might have a good win afterward. It’s getting harder and harder to erase the awful taste from these kinds of losses though.