The St. Louis Blues seem to find new and inventive ways to screw things up as this season has progressed. Their latest was blowing a lead in an important divisional game.
The St. Louis Blues are beyond the point of having a bad game here or there. We can comfort ourselves with their overall record or their overall low number of goals allowed. When you strip everything away, this is not a team that is going to win anything.
That hurts to type and gets caught in the throat when you try to say it, but we have reached the point where it is inescapable. You cannot think you are better than you are. You cannot let your foot off the gas.
Mistakes happen, but they cannot happen at the rate that the Blues are having them happen. I made the comment on Twitter and stand by it – this is the only team I have seen where they HAVE to have a mistake free game to win. Anything they do wrong seems to get capitalized on unless the goaltender makes some spectacular play.
There is really no point in bringing up the goaltender debate, but these games are the ones that frustrate me. If Jake Allen was in there, somehow it would be his fault. The truth is the Blues play like they did against the Predators most of the time. Carter Hutton has just been a little bit better at hiding it of late.
During the Pittsburgh game, fans played it off saying mistakes happen. Apparently, yes they do and the Blues make a ton of them. Their lapses in judgement are astounding at times.
With a commanding lead, they start screwing around instead of playing sound, fundamental hockey. Quite frankly, they deserved to lose this game. I do not care if they were the better team for 40 minutes. They were not the better team overall.
The Blues kept crashing the net.
If St. Louis is to prove us wrong, this is something they absolutely must keep doing. For as thick as their skulls seem to be, the players do seem to have learned this lesson of late.
The last handful of games, they’ve been scoring by going to the net and putting pucks on goal. There has not been as much of this senseless shoot it wide and hope to pick the puck off the wall. There has been less of the shots from the wall 30 feet out too.
The Blues are driving to the net, either with the puck or without and getting their rewards.
Two of the Blues three goals were from in tight.
The first goal was a classic example of driving to the net with numbers, flipping the shot off the opposite pad and cashing in on the rebound. That was vintage Alexander Steen.
The second goal was even dirtier. The first couple whacks came from in front of the goaltender. Finally, Jaden Schwartz kept up with it and banged it home.
Those are the goals the Blues have to keep scoring if they intend to ever be more than just a playoff team.
The Blues left Carter Hutton out to dry, as they’ve done so often recently with either goaltender.
As fans, we’ve been so preoccupied with arguing about which goaltender we prefer that the awful play of the defense has gotten a pass by many. Not all, but many.
For 40 minutes, the Blues were a decent defensive team. They allowed way too much pressure in the first 2/3 of the first period, but they withstood it. It reminded me of a lower level Premier League team trying to park the bus against one of the top four, but it got the job done.
As has been the case for what feels like years now, the Blues forgot there are three periods and a total of 60 minutes.
While St. Louis did not allow a goal until the third, they only defended well for the second period. They had 13 shots against in the first and then 15 in the third.
Even when Nashville made it 3-1, the Blues had the game in their hands. Instead they allowed rush after rush at their net. They allowed Hutton to be swarmed by yellow so much you would think his jersey got stained by it.
Hutton played valiantly and made some big saves, but nobody could withstand what the Blues allowed. Perhaps now we can understand that the Blues do not have a goaltending problem, even if we agree that Allen has not been at his best. This is a team-wide, systemic problem that has to be corrected from the front on back.
The Blues dominated the Predators on the road and scored.
It had been forever since St. Louis had scored in Nashville. In three playoff games, they only had one goal against the Preds in their building.
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For St. Louis to score first was a huge deal. It gave the Blues a decided advantage toward getting a win since their record is so stellar when scoring first. The fact they blew it later does not take away from the accomplishment at the time.
Actually building a big lead was even more impressive. The Blues were like bees, swarming left and right like an angry hive protecting their queen.
That is probably what is so disgusting about this loss. When you can score three goals against one of the best defensive teams in the league, in their building no less, you have to win.
Why this team cannot stay mentally sharp for a full 60 minutes is beyond me. The mere fact they were better than Nashville for any sustained period should give us hope. It’s a shame that one terrible period washes that hope into a Pennywise infested sewer.
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The Blues put themselves in a position to get screwed.
Before we enter another rant, it has to be said that the officials did not cost the Blues this game. When you have a three goal lead and stand around with your thumb up your rear, watching it evaporate, you cannot blame anyone but yourself.
That said, the officiating in the NHL continues to be some of the worst I’ve ever seen. The drive by Filip Forsberg to the net drew a penalty and nothing more.
Schwartz got caught and could not keep up with the speed. There was a small tug and the stick was in the path. We’ve seen that called a penalty bunches of times.
We’ve also seen that same play happen to the Blues and either not get the penalty call or not get a penalty shot. We all have our fun claiming the NHL is biased, but it is plays like that that give fodder to the people that truly believe it.
Forsberg is faster than greased lightning, but how you can claim that was a clear breakaway is beyond me.
Again, the Blues messed this up by even putting themselves in that spot. It should not have gone to OT and they should not have allowed a break down the wing with space unattended in behind. They did and were made to pay for it.
It is simply the inconsistency that is maddening. If that’s a penalty shot, then call it as such all the time. We see it called so rarely for it to be called as a game deciding play is disappointing.
This game was the Blues season in a microcosm.
That statement came almost verbatim from a text from my brother and could not be more true.
St. Louis had a slippery, but well played first and then a fantastic second. Similarly, the opening weeks of the year were a feeling out period and the first couple months were a dominating effort by the Blues. After that, it all came crashing down.
This team is just not mentally prepared. I’ll be honest and say I skipped the postgame reaction, but it seems like the word tired or ran out of gas is being used far too often.
The Blues just had two friggin breaks a few weeks ago. They had their bye week and then the All-Star break. If you’re not recharged for a playoff run after that, you’re going home after the first round.
A condensed schedule or playing the most games in the league is no longer an excuse. You have to win games and find ways to keep teams down. The Blues are doing none of that.
With a few exceptions, they are either winning close or getting badly outplayed. The final score clearly does not show it, but you could feel this surge coming from Nashville.
The Predators clearly know how to win. They’ve done it and were taken down by a more experienced team in the final. The Blues seem to still be a long way off, no matter how competitive they might be.