The St. Louis Blues were in prime position to make a statement against a championship team. Instead, they reverted to type and had a stinker of a game.
The St. Louis Blues love taking their fans on a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, the valleys in the 2017-18 season are a little too low and not very fun.
By no means was the effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins lackluster in the two teams final meeting. It was disappointing that the Blues could not continue to build on the momentum they had built, however.
St. Louis came in with a modest two game win streak. They left the arena with nothing except the need to search for more answers.
The Blues opened the game well. They came out with good jump and a solid structure.
St. Louis did an excellent job of keeping the high-powered Pittsburgh offense quiet for much of the game. The Blues even scored the first goal of the game early in the second period.
That’s where much of the good feelings ended. Pittsburgh tied the game almost before the fans even put their butts back in the seat.
There were many questions about the goal and Jake Allen’s positioning, but the bottom line was it was a right-cross right to the jaw when the Blues were least expecting it. St. Louis has failed to keep teams from scoring the next shift too often of late.
Then, the wheels fell off in the bad luck department. A mid-air deflection led to a turnover, breakaway and goal. Another careless giveaway led to the third goal and then the Penguins capitalized on an empty net for the fourth.
Many people said St. Louis deserved to get a point. That might be true, but they did not earn a point and that has been the big difference in many games this season.
Jake Allen suffered another knock to his confidence.
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Say what you will about the Snake, but you’re a cold person if you don’t feel for him right now. It seems like just when you think he’s turned a corner, he slams into a wall.
There are plenty out there, some who have no idea about goaltending, who blame Allen for everything. A good goaltender would have stopped it is the typical fallback argument.
Regardless of that, Allen just has not had much luck. So many blamed him for the first Penguins goal, but he was against the post just as any goaltender is taught to be. The fact the puck plinkoed around his arm to where Sidney Crosby could poke it in is not Allen’s fault. It is just terrible luck, which has followed him around.
If you want to give blame, on the shot alone, Allen needed to do better on the second goal. He took his stick away from a flat position far too quickly. However, fans quickly forget the awful nature of the turnover that even led to a needless breakaway. It was explained away with “turnovers happen.”
This is a discussion that could go on and on. The bottom line is, whether bad play or bad luck, Allen seems to be snakebitten – no pun intended.
Fans can wish for his benching all they want, but the Blues need him. Even if you no longer consider him the starter, Carter Hutton cannot shoulder the load of every remaining game.
The Blues scored AGAIN by crashing the net.
It’s become a habit of late and a good one. The Blues are heading to the front of the net for everything and getting rewarded for it.
It can’t be said that St. Louis almost screwed up on the first goal. Despite the misplay, they kept at it and Kyle Brodziak punched it home.
When the team has struggled, they would have just let the puck flitter by and not tracked it. Instead, they kept at it and got a goal for their efforts.
The Blues are finally learning that they all count. You don’t have to get all the pretty goals.
The defense was awful.
The commentary crew can say what they want, but the Blues defense was not good once the Penguins scored. Yes, the Blues were in the game and could have gained a point if they could score, but the defending left a lot to be desired.
Not to bring up the goaltending issue again, but so many say that the team plays more tentatively for Allen. That’s nonsense. If they were so worried about Allen’s abilities, why does that actual defending get worse once a goal gets in?
They don’t buckle down and defend better. They defend worse, which makes no sense. It should be a focus if they are so worried about one player’s abilities.
The team’s passing abilities from the back end went down the tubes as well. Vince Dunn‘s cross-ice pass was simply bad luck that it got knocked out of mid-air. However, the fact he was trying a cross-ice pass with a forechecker right on him is senseless to begin with.
The turnover from Alex Pietrangelo on the third goal was pure insanity. There was good pressure from behind, but how in the world does that puck get tossed into the most dangerous spot on the ice?
Allen did not have a great game, but the defending lets their problems snowball as a unit just as much as any other position and often more.
The Blues actually did play well enough to get more.
It sounds insane given how much I’ve ripped certain aspects of this team and this game. The Blues did do enough, in certain aspects, to have at least earned a point though.
They won the faceoff battle, they outhit Pittsburgh, they kept the Penguins power play off the board and they outshot the Penguins. The Blues just got beaten by a hot goaltender.
Matt Murray made some huge saves and was the difference maker for his team. The fact that people say Allen got outdueled is as foolish an idea as saying pitchers got outdone by the other pitcher. The other pitcher or other goaltender has nothing to do with what happens to their counterpart. They can only control what happens to them.
That said, Murray did more. The Blues kept pressure on before the mistakes started happening. St. Louis just did not get the rewards for their efforts. That happens. Sometimes you just go against a goaltender that steals a game from you.
It was a loss, but not an awful one.
If we strip away all the negativity and view the game in a vacuum, the Blues don’t need to hang their head. They made mistakes and they paid for it. They ran into a blazing hot goaltender for one game and could not crack him.
That does not mean they will make those same mistakes the next game. That does not mean the same effort will lead to as little offense against the next opponent.
As fans, we will argue the goaltending issue until we are blue in the face. I still contend that is not what is costing the team the most and is not what cost the Blues in this game.
The Blues need to stay the course because a similar effort, with fewer turnovers will lead to a win more nights than not.