St. Louis Blues: Pros And Cons From Game 61 Against San Jose

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 20: Brayden Schenn
ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 20: Brayden Schenn /

The 2017-18 season has been a season of ending streaks. Unfortunately, almost none of those streaks ending have been beneficial to the St. Louis Blues.</h2.

The St. Louis Blues had another “big game” with another chance to right the ship. It ended in failure again, as the Blues continue to bleed points and not take advantage of other team’s miscues.

The Blues had a chance to climb back into the secure divisional playoff spot by leapfrogging Dallas, who lost the previous night. Instead, they end up with another clunky result against San Jose that gives the optimists enough to say there is something there but the pessimists a reason to say sell at the deadline.

As always with this team, the truth is somewhere in the middle. They’re good enough to beat any team on any given night. They are not good enough to win on talent alone.

That last statement has been their biggest issue. They don’t want to do the little, yet important things that will win you hockey games, especially in the playoffs.

As an example, the Blues never really played that poorly against San Jose. There were the usual things, such as puck watching or turnovers leading to rushes the other way. However, the Blues did not play terribly. They did not play better than their opponent though and that’s what matters.


The Blues started the game well and responded well.

At the start of the game, the Blues looked like they might have a decent game. They came out with a decent amount of jump and were putting some pucks toward net.

In the completely unfair category, Samuel Blais was one of their best players in the first period. It was unfair, because he got knocked out of the rest of the game when he took a shoulder to the chin. It was a legal hit, but more misfortune for the Blues they can ill afford.

Blais was skating well and on his toes. He created a scoring chance early on by driving to the net, showing his lackadaisical veteran teammates how it’s done.

Beyond just the play of Blais, the Blues did not get down in the dumps after allowing the first goal of the game. They kept at it and tied the game in relatively short fashion.

Ivan Barbashev just drove the zone 1:58 after San Jose scored and snapped one over the goalie’s shoulder. You can make the case that Martin Jones was cheating, but that’s why you shoot the puck.


The Blues, as a defensive unit, were standing around far too much.

If you’re going to give the Blues credit for sticking with things after that first goal, you have to take credit away for how they played after tying it.

There is no one unit to blame here. You cannot say it was just the defenders or just the forwards, though the forwards take plenty of blame on the Sharks third goal.

As a five man unit, there was little to no cohesion. It was every man for himself, often leaving the next guy to fend for himself once someone messed up.

On the Sharks’ second goal, the forwards are nowhere to be seen. Vince Dunn over-pursues the puck and Chris Butler is just standing there on his knee, trying to block a pass that never comes.

The third goal started with a bad turnover by Jaden Schwartz, who looked shaky with the puck all night. After the giveaway, the forwards are in no position to come back to help.

Again, it was Dunn and Butler on the ice for this one, but not much they could do. It was another three-on-two and each man made a decision as to who to follow and the passes found their way around.

It’s just not good enough all around. Again, the Blues are allowing teams to take advantage of every single mistake.


Vladimir Tarasenko had a very good game except for one or two plays.

We give this guy so much grief because we want so much from him. We want him to be the Blues savior. Maybe he will be, maybe he won’t, but when he’s motivated, he plays.

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Case-in-point was this game. He was doing everything he could. You could argue he did not skate hard enough on the backcheck of the third goal, but that kind of stuff is just fan arguments. He was not going to impact that play.

Regardless of that, he was doing the little things. He was tied for the team lead with three hits. Tarasenko had three shots on goal as well. Only Patrik Berglund and Scottie Upshall had more, which says more about the rest of the offense than anything.

Tarasenko got a dirty power play goal as well, right when the team needed it. Down 3-1 and the period waning, Tarasenko put himself in a good position. He was on the circle, waiting for any rebounds. He had to pinch toward the endline to score, but he was right where he needed to be.

Additionally, the Blues had a chance to tie at the end because of Vlady. San Jose was poised to score an empty net goal. Instead, Tarasenko went down to block and when the Shark went around, he pokechecked it away. The Blues did not score, but they went down the ice and created a chance or two.

We’d all love to see him score two goals per game, but if he is engaged like he was, he’s going to find success.


Tarasenko lost that edge in a crucial time.

Again, like the other pro and con, if you give credit you have to take it away, if warranted. Tarasenko had the puck on his stick in a key moment at the end of the game and chose not to take it.

With about 12 seconds left in the game, the Blues found Tarasenko at the blue line. He had a little bit of space to maneuver up the wall and, instead, tried to chip it in.

You are the star. You are the player this team needs to grasp that brass ring.

Maybe Tarasenko gets pinched against the wall and nothing happens. We will never know because he let go of the puck.

If you are to truly be a star in this league, you have to realize the situation. Big-time players try to impact the game in the biggest moments. There is nobody the Blues want to have the puck more in that situation.

By no means does this loss fall on the feet of Tarasenko. There are 17 other guys that could have done more earlier in the game.

However, how things played out, you need him to take charge and try to put a move on. There is not enough time to chip and chase. He needed to rush up the wall and get a shot himself. The fact he did not continues to give people fodder to doubt him.


The officiating sucked.

This is a minor issue to this game, but something we are all getting tired of as fans. There were plenty of bad calls that benefited the Blues in this game, but that’s the point. Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you don’t, but if they’re all blatantly bad, that should reflect on the refs.

It makes no sense anymore. A feather tap on the glove earned the Blues a hooking call, but goaltenders are pushed and smashed in the face and it isn’t interference.

Officiating is tough. There’s no doubt of that. However, the NHL is going off the rails with the wild inconsistency.

Overall Thoughts:

Not good enough, but should we even expect more at this point?

The Blues, as already stated, did not play a bad game. That’s half the point these days, though. You can’t just not play bad and expect to win.

This is a very talented team that can take down any team in the league. They are not talented enough to win on talent alone. You cannot play like an All-Star team and think doing whatever you want, as an individual, will be best for the team.

Next: The Case for Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard For The Blues

The Blues continue to not outplay their opponent. Some of that is our fault, since we keep saying we just want to see a good performance.

However, sometimes a good performance is not enough. The Blues got good performances in plenty of games, but they did not outwork or outplay their opponent in those games. That happened again against San Jose.

Put the Blues in a vacuum and they were alright – nothing special, but not bad. You have to actually outplay the team across from you. You have to be willing to do as much and more than they are. Right now, that’s not happening for the Blues.