The St. Louis Blues had another opportunity to put some distance between them and a divisional foe. Instead, they have now been passed up by Dallas.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Blues had the most games against divisional opponents of anyone in the Central Division. Three weeks after that, they have played a good chunk of those games and have not come up with the needed results.
Their game in Dallas against the Stars was another example of the team playing well in spurts, but not getting the job done. With only 22 games remaining, it is about results, not style anymore.
The television crew tried to pass this one off as another game where the Blues ran into a hot goaltender. While Ben Bishop did play very well, the Blues did not do enough, pure and simple.
The first period in Big D went fine. The Blues got net-front presence and were doing a decent job offensively. There was not much wrong defensively either, though Jake Allen looked a little shaky in his first few minutes.
St. Louis just cannot seem to get out of their own way right now though. Both Dallas goals – one in the second period and one in the third – deflected off Blues defenders. It’s not as though they meant to knock it in, but it’s almost like the harder this team tries, the worse the result is.
The Blues got a late power play goal, but the game was over by then. Statistically, this game looks like a good effort and close loss, but it was another wasted night.
The Blues gave Jake Allen no support.
We can debate until our tongues dry up and our voices are hoarse about the goaltending. There are people out there that blame Allen for this game too.
The first goal was not even going on net and then deflects off Carl Gunnarsson in the low slot. No chance to stop that.
The second goal is somewhat similar. You can argue Allen should have had it, but the Blues could have cleared it and then once the shot comes it takes a deflection of Alex Pietrangelo’s stick. Allen was in position to make the stop if that goes through clean.
Regardless, the bottom line is that whether it’s Allen or Carter Hutton, the Blues are not supporting their goaltenders enough. You cannot expect a shutout every game or even every other game.
That is what the Blues are asking of their goaltenders right now. One goal against Dallas. One goal against Pittsburgh. Only one goal against Boston and Buffalo.
You cannot expect shutouts or one goal against every single night. There is too much feast or famine here.
The Blues really didn’t play badly.
That sounds like a backhanded compliment, and it sort of is. However, we’ve seen some stinker games this year and this was not one. Especially coming off that awful tankjob they did in Nashville, you could have expected them to be in the dumps.
Our frustration level is growing with every underwhelming performance, but viewed in a vacuum, the Blues did not play poorly. They outshot Dallas, kept the shot totals against low and were beaten by two lucky goals.
It’s simply the Blues failure to capitalize that is doing them in right now. Nobody had a bad game. Very few had a great game though and therein lies the difference.
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Bernie Federko said on the postgame show that if the Blues play like this they will get wins in most games. The discouraging thing is they are not right now.
You have to be able to win even when you’re not at your best. The Blues were not at their best, but they were not bad. The final score suggests it was winnable, but not playing poorly is not the goal. In retrospect, it’s hard to tell if this is a pro or a con, but you can’t rip individuals for simply not playing out of their skulls I suppose.
The offense just is not getting it done.
We can applaud the team for getting 29 shots. You can credit Bishop if you want. The issue is that the Blues did not do enough to test him.
Sure, 29 shots sounds fine, but how many were second chance attempts? The Blues got next to no second push after the initial chance on goal.
There were seven forwards that had one or no shots on goal in this game. To put that in perspective, all but two defenders had two or more shots.
You can take that as a positive and say good on the defenders for shooting, but those are likely from distance. I say shame on the forwards for not creating their own chances.
The excuse of being pass first is not enough for Paul Stastny any more. When you’re mentioned with fourth line players for having no shots on goal, that’s not good enough.
Brayden Schenn continues to lead by example.
It’s a shame that the guy that has been here the least amount of time is the one showing this team how it is done. More so than the captain or the team’s star goal scorer, Schenn has been there almost every night.
Sure, he might have had an off shift here or there, but Schenn was bringing it in this game. He got his reward by tapping in a well set up power play goal to cut the lead in half late on.
That goal didn’t even show the kind of game he had. He was battling in the corners, he was forechecking. Schenn even got in a fight with a much larger man. Marc Methot is four inches taller and 30 lbs heavier, but Schenn got in there to tell his teammates to get their heads out of their rears.
Newer fans, or sometimes younger fans, don’t understand the impact that can have. They say just go out there and score and that’s more important to your team. Schenn was and has led by example.
He’s basically saying we all need to not be worried about how big they are or how good they are and fight, whether literally or figuratively. You’re not about to take the C off Pietrangelo, but that is leadership material to me.
Another wasted chance and now the playoffs are in doubt.
It’s amazing how one game can change a perception so much. Entering this game it seemed unthinkable the Blues might miss the playoffs.
Now, they are not part of the division’s top three for the first time all season. They are tied on points with Dallas, but the Stars have games in hand.
Now, St. Louis is only up by four on Minnesota and by five on Anaheim. Get below that and you’re out of the postseason.
It’s the little things that are becoming huge for this team. As pointed out, they did not play poorly, but that’s not enough right now.
The TV crew said you cannot focus on the negative and that’s true for the players. You cannot think bad things will always happen or it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That said, you have to go out and make positive things happen.
You have to take games by the scruff. You can’t blow 3-0 leads like they did in Nashville. You can’t keep dropping points to divisional opponents when they don’t play all that great either.
It was not as though Dallas came out and had a fantastic game. If you’re going to lose, you better make sure they made you lose. The other team better have poured it all out and that has not been the case and was not the case in Dallas.
Federko can say the Blues will get wins if they continue to play like they did, but they can’t. They have to be better and excuses have to go out the window.