The St. Louis Blues were hoping to keep March from becoming a disappointing start with back-to-back losses. The Dallas Stars are desperate for points too, so it was never going to be easy.
The St. Louis Blues knew they had to get themselves into another gear when they took on the Dallas Stars. The Blues were coming off a disappointing performance against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Stars were just as in need of points, trying to hold onto their wild card spot or catch up to the Blues.
The Blues came out and did their thing to start the game. St. Louis had good energy to start the game and got some decent offense going.
The Blues outshot the Stars 7-1 and then 10-4, so they were funneling pucks to the net, which was not something done in Carolina. Unfortunately, it did not make the difference.
The Blues squandered two power play chances, mustering only a handful of shots. Then, the Stars struck first.
Dallas won the faceoff in the last five minutes of the period and my favorite current player (sarcasm), Jamie Benn, managed to get the tip. Then, the wheels came off a bit.
The Blues failed to get the puck in deep and on the counter, John Klingberg was allowed to get into the low slot without being touched and buried it.
The Blues just never found a way to get things going after all that. They did notch a goal, but allowed one soon after.
The team just is not quite working as a team right now. They desperately need their injured players to return. The cohesive nature of the lines and the roster has been disrupted and now they look lost.
Cons: First Period Letdown
As mentioned, the Blues had a good first portion of the first period. It was the second day in a row where that was the case.
For the second day in a row, the Blues ended the first period having given up two goals. In this game, unfortunately, the Blues were unable to score.
For whatever reason, the Blues are now unable to sustain their solid play. It seems like if something does not go right from the start, they take their foot off the gas and it costs them.
The first goal was simply unfortunate. You lose a faceoff and the shot from the point gets deflected in. You never like to be scored on, but that one is acceptable.
The second goal is not. The Blues simply just lost themselves everywhere. You could see it coming and it was likely to be a goal no matter what.
Klingberg was untouched making his way to about six feet from goal, making it almost impossible to stop. Looking at the replay, there was a man wide open on the back door, so even if Klingberg elects to pass, the Stars likely score their second goal on that play.
Joel Edmundson was taking care of his man, but where was everyone else? They seemed more concerned with guarding a spot on the ice than with where someone wearing white was at.
The Blues have to fix this. They are not playing awful hockey, but just as at the start of the year, they are paying for every mistake.
Pros: Pat Maroon
I really like Pat Maroon. I was fortunate enough to cover him during his dominant days with the St. Louis Bandits and enjoy his grittier style.
That said, he probably should not be on the team’s top line. There simply does not seem to be any cohesion and Maroon lacks the speed to keep up with the style of his linemates.
That said, he was one of the few bright spots in this game. He did not back down at all and even instigated a few things.
While the NHL is veering more toward a more pristine game, devoid of scrums and fights. As an old school fan, I appreciate those things and the people still willing to get involved in that.
Maroon was just that. He was the kind of player you would be complaining about if he was on the other team.
Maroon snowed Ben Bishop, which is frowned upon, but he was trying to stir the pot. He got under the Stars skin enough that three people went after him after a whistle.
He was jawing with guys and mixing it up, while always being smart enough to not retaliate. We have not seen that sort of stuff since Ryan Reaves left and Maroon gets more ice time, giving him more chances to fulfill his role.
In a game where the Blues just seemed to lack something, Maroon did everything in his power to provide a spark.
Cons: Top Guys Nowhere To Be Found
If fans want to berate Jake Allen to no end, then they better admit that Jordan Binnington should have saved the Stars third goal. It was not the deciding factor in the game, but it was a momentum sapper.
Moving out of the firing line, the other top players for the Blues just did not get anything done. In reality, they have disappeared and that is a big reason the team has struggled the last week or so.
I saw a tweet that said the Blues have seven goals in their last four-plus games and none of them are from your big offensive guns. The only top player that has done his best to carry the team is Alex Pietrangelo. That’s great from your captain, but not when he’s a defender.
Ryan O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz have no points in that same span. Vladimir Tarasenko has cooled off quite a bit too and has returned to his pass-first mentality, which is not what put him on the verge of scoring 30 goals.
O’Reilly still leads by example from a hustle standpoint, but he’s not doing the other things. His faceoff percentage has not been great of late. His percentage has been regularly under 50% and while that happens, it can’t happen when the team depends on him so highly for that stat alone.
Who knows what has happened to Schwartz. We all thought a couple gimmies would set him on the right path, but now he looks lost again. He was stumbling around, afraid to shoot the puck and defenses know it. They were hounding him as soon as he got the puck because the Stars could tell he did not know what to do with it right away.
The Blues best players were their best players during their win streak. It is now the opposite.
Really, Blues? Really?
Of all the players on the Stars – there are, at least 17 other players that would have been acceptable – the Blues managed to give a hat trick to the loathsome Jamie Benn. I’m sure he does all sorts of fine things in the Dallas community, but I cannot stand the sight of him and his smug smile. It literally makes my stomach turn.
Taking that out, it just was not good enough from the Blues. The post game show was talking about how tired they are, but I do not want to hear it. Everyone, with the exception of Nashville, has played about the same amount of games by now, so fatigue is not an option at this point of the season.
Also, while we see the Blues all season and not those other teams, it never feels like the Blues take advantage of an opponent when they should be tired. So, why is it the fallback excuse when St. Louis gets beaten?
You had an opportunity to go up by seven points on the Stars and now, instead, you are only ahead of them by three points. Now, they are the hot team that you have to hold off instead of charging toward the teams above you.
Overall, this was a better effort than we saw on the road in Carolina, but we cannot have moral victories at this part of the year. The Blues are in prime playoff positioning, but if you go on a losing streak, you can find yourself out of it right quick.
The Stars got their best players to play. Benn and Ben Bishop have owned the Blues lately and they did it again. The top players for the Blues were not to be found. Binnington cannot be a savior every single night and one goal will not win most games.
Maybe I would feel differently about this game if my personal villain did not play such a role, but the bottom line is the Blues have to regroup. We can talk about shrugging these off all we want, but this team is allowing too much of what buried them early in the season back into their game.
They are not moving as a unit. They are missing open nets and passing up chances. The goaltending is better than it was then, but these last two games show that was never the issue. You can’t win with one or two goals. The offense has to do its part and it returned to the shadows.
The guys are tired, I have no doubt of that. They better utilize this small break and come back better come Wednesday.