The St. Louis Blues had a must-win against the Colorado Avalanche as they began a mini-home stand. They did everything but win in this game.
The St. Louis Blues came out like a house on fire against the Colorado Avalanche. The hockey gods were not on their side however as they played about as well as we have seen in a long time and come up empty handed.
The Blues opened the game with a strong shift and Vladimir Tarasenko broke right in on goal and almost scored. It was a harbinger of things to come for 91 as that would be his story for the rest of the game – almost.
The Blues played well throughout the game, but as usual it was one mistake that really ended up being the costly part of the game. The Blues had a good first period, but it was a turnover that led to the Avalanche’s first goal.
Nathan MacKinnon scored the first two goals for the Avalanche. The first was a hard wrister to the glove side. The second was a rebound goal after a fortunate bounce.
That was basically all the Avs would need, though they doubled their goal total through the rest of the game. Semyon Varlamov shut the door on the Blues, no matter what they did.
Only a Joel Edmundson shot snuck past him. After that, he was an impenetrable wall.
The disappointing part of this was the Blues had it in their hand based on effort level. They just could not get the puck over the goal line.
Vladimir Tarasenko could not buy a goal.
Tarasenko was on his toes and had loads of jump. He ended the game with eight shots on goal and 15 attempts.
Whether he was trying to pinpoint a shot location too finely or just tossing the puck at the net, he just could not score. Varlamov had his number, stopping him on several chances in tight.
Tarasenko will also be kicking himself for missing an empty net in the third period. Tarasenko needed to just tap it, but instead tried to shovel it in. His body was not square, so the puck went wide even though the goal horn operator thought there was no way he would miss and fired it off.
As the broadcasters said, this may have been one of Tarasenko’s better games of the season. Like his team, he just had nothing to show for it at the end of it all.
The Blues were the more dominating team.
Both the radio and television crews made mention of how it seemed like the ice was tilted toward the Blues offensive zone at various points of the game. That will happen when you get over 40 shots on goal.
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The Blues were funneling pucks toward the net with consistency. Though they did their usual Blues thing and passed up a few chances, they created a lot of good scoring opportunities.
St. Louis did just about everything right in the offensive zone, save for some disappointing power plays. It was just not enough in this one game.
As we’ve seen in the recent games, sometimes you need to be lucky rather than good. Tonight, the Blues were very good, but had no luck at all.
Jake Allen was good when he needed to be great.
I make no bones about being a huge Allen apologist. I like the guy and his talents and will defend him as much as anyone can. However, you have to call it right and not let bias get in the way too much – that’s a hint to the haters too.
All of that said, Allen was not at fault on the goals totally, but he did not do enough.
Of the first three goals, each goal scored was not Allen’s fault, but there were minor things that could have happened a different way. The first goal was just a heck of a wrister, but Allen had a good sight line on it. You’d like him to manage to save that.
The second goal, Allen had a big screen in front of him and the puck was knuckling on goal. He was in position to make the initial save, but the rebound went right to MacKinnon. A little more luck or being a little more vocal to his own teammates to clear the lane might have helped.
The third goal, Allen just cheated a little bit. All goaltenders are guilty of it, but Allen figured the puck was going to cut back toward the middle and instead the shot got shoveled over his shoulder. In hindsight, he should have gotten to the post instead of playing the hunch, but there’s no real way of knowing where a backhand shot will go.
Again, Allen did not lose this game for the Blues. He made some good saves and kept the team in it. When you’re playing against a great performance on the other side of the ice, however, you have to raise your game even higher.
The Blues never gave up.
A loss is a loss, just the same as a win is a win. So, when Colorado scored first, you knew the Blues were in trouble. They have only won seven games all season when the opposition scored the first goal.
In past games, you could see the energy get sucked out of them as soon as the other team scored. The game was lost before the final horn even sounded.
That was not the case in this game. The Blues kept pouring it on and kept trying to score no matter what.
When Edmundson scored, it seemed like the game was right there for the taking. That third goal was really a bit of a back breaker, even though the Blues kept pounding away.
St. Louis was doing just about everything right except hitting the back of the net. They had over 20 shots in the third period alone, which is more shots than they’ve had in a few entire games.
We’ve said it in the past and it is of little consolation now, but this was one of those games that if you see a carbon copy in the next contest, you’ll likely get a win. Unfortunately right now, you need wins in this game not the next.
A great performance, but no luck for the Blues, as usual.
The Blues sent tons of pucks toward goal and fought for almost every possession. They were throwing checks, jumping for pucks and pinching along the boards to keep them in the offensive zones.
They outhit Colorado, they won more faceoffs and they almost doubled their shot total. They just could not beat Varlamov.
St. Louis had pucks hit the posts and trickle wide. They missed a wide open net. It was just not their night on this one.
The one negative was the power play reverted to type. The Blues had scored some much needed power play goals during their west coast trip. Instead they got back to what made them so predictable.
They kept funneling the puck to the corner, trying to set up a one timer in front of goal. When Positive Panger even says you can’t keep trying to hit the pretty pass, you know something is up.
The Blues needed to win this game and instead find themselves a full four points back of the last wild card spot. They also have to jump over three teams.
It’s going to be a mountain to climb. At least they were entertaining, which is the least we can ask for.