St. Louis Blues Pros And Cons From Game 66 Vs. Anaheim

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 6: Robert Thomas #18, Jaden Schwartz #17, and Patrick Maroon #7 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Thomas' second period goal during the game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 6, 2019 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 6: Robert Thomas #18, Jaden Schwartz #17, and Patrick Maroon #7 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Thomas' second period goal during the game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 6, 2019 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Blues needed to get back on track against Anaheim after a couple losses prior to the game. The west coast has not always treated the Blues very well though.

The St. Louis Blues always seem to run up against scenarios that are not totally in their favor. Whether they overcome those things has been up in the air.

Nobody expected the Blues to win 11 straight because they had some really tough opponents during that stretch where it happened. Nevertheless, it happened.

Even so, with the Blues needing to hit the reset button after a couple tough losses, the west coast did not seem like the place to be. Historically, at least over the last decade or so, the Blues have struggled in their trips to California.

St. Louis came into this particular game 4-11 at The Pond. To counter that point, the Blues had won the last two against the Ducks on their ice.

So, it was anyone’s guess as to what might happen. Giving up the first goal was not in the script that equals a Blues win as they have only won a handful of games when getting scored upon first, but it happened.

Fortunately, the Blues answered with three straight power play goals before the Ducks would score again. St. Louis can’t make anything easy though, allowing two goals in the second to tie things up.

The game went back and forth with the Ducks having a lead late in the game.  For those of you that went to bed early, you missed a hell of a finish.

St. Louis scored two goals in the final 1:04 and pulled off a huge win in regulation.  It was not the prettiest win of the year, but it could be one of the most important.

Cons: Wraparounds

This one is more a culmination rather than picking on this one play specifically. The Ducks first goal came from a wraparound and it was a shot that likely should have been stopped.

Jordan Binnington would likely agree that he should have had it. For whatever reason, his right pad (the far pad) was tucked in behind instead of guarding the goal line.

These things happen though as you cannot have perfect form every single time.

The troublesome part of it was not just with Binnington though. Where was the backside defending? On an even strength play, why was there not a player that could help defend that and deny the chance in the first place?

That has been something that has cost the Blues several times this year. Many of those goals were blamed on Jake Allen, but this one was evidence that the defending could do more to aid their goaltenders on these sorts of plays no matter who is in the crease.

Sometimes speed just wins out and the offensive player makes a good, hard turn to stuff it in. You have to know these things are likely coming and snuff them out a little quicker than the Blues have recently though.

Pros: Power Play

Listing the power play as a positive thing has been a rare thing in the 2018-19 season. The Blues were just over 18% overall coming into the game, a full two percentage points behind the league average.

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For whatever reason, the Blues do better on the power play on the road and that played out in this game. A big reason is they actually shot the puck.

The Blues have been known to overpass on their power plays. They would either struggle to get into the zone or, if they could get some zone time, they would just pass until time elapsed with no shots on goal.

The opposite was true here. On the first three Blues power plays, they had nine shots on goal. Three shots per power play does not seem like much, but you will take three more than zero any day.

Getting three goals was mainly a bonus due to their more aggressive play. It also was a result of net-front pressure.

Pat Maroon actually moved out of the way on the third goal, but both of the others were due to someone screening the goaltender. The first goal was due to a nice deflection too by Brayden Schenn.

You are not going to score this many on the power play every time out, but the team’s percentage would be much better if they took these sorts of chances and played the same way. For whatever reason, we just do not see it all the time

Cons: Jordan Binnington

I understand, I will likely be roasted for this, but if we are going to be fair then you have to give some blame to Binnington in this game.

Binnington was not totally to blame for this loss, just as Allen was not totally to blame for many of his losses but many chose to do so anyway. However, the truth is Binnington allowed two goals that did not need to go in.

With razor-thin margins in many of these games, the Blues needed him to turn those goals aside. He did not and has looked more and more human the last few games he has been in.

Defenders will say it was more bad luck than bad play and there is not a huge argument against that. You also have to give credit to Binnington for making some good saves to keep the Blues in the game.

Regardless of that, he needed to do just a little better. The mistake that led to the Ducks’ fourth goal was a prime example of that.

When totally on his game, Binnington makes an easy glove save on that goal. Instead, he had it deflect off the cuff and up into the air and he could not get to the rebound.

Beyond the goals, we have seen a little more Allen-esque body language from Binnington lately. The head goes back after some goals and he has slid outside the posts a little more than we have become accustomed to.

Again, the game does not fall completely on his shoulders. You do wonder if some of the magic has worn off though.

Pros: Robert Thomas

Things have not gone smoothly for Robert Thomas in his rookie season. We expected so much out of him that seeing him play on the fourth line seemed under his talents.

However, we have seen flashes of what we can expect in his future. He showed plenty of that in the game against the Ducks.

Thomas showed speed and puck handles aplenty. His zone entries with speed and possession are what so many look forward to as he could take it in by himself instead of the Blues usual dump and chase.

In addition to all the little things he was doing right (1 blocked shot and 1 takeaway), Thomas showed some of the offensive skill we have been dying to see. Two goals is not too shabby, right?

The first was a power play goal that put the Blues up 3-1. It was a shot that the Ducks goaltender likely should have had, but you cannot score if you do not shoot. Thomas took the chance and got the reward.

The second goal was even better. Not only did it tie the game 4-4 late in the contest, but it was a beauty. Thomas found the ricochet off the end wall and roofed the puck over the outstretched pad. You put that shot any lower and it might be saved.

Thomas might only have seven goals on the year, but he has managed to make them count.

Overview

What an improbable win. Anyone that stayed up to watch it was definitely rewarded.

Even those of us that did stay up would likely be lying if we said we thought the Blues were going to win. Very little had occurred in the third period that gave you hope they would overcome a 4-3 deficit.

Give St. Louis a lot of credit for not allowing their usual down in the dumps attitude to creep in. They kept at it and kept the pressure on, even when things seemed most dire.

The Blues made it extremely interesting. They looked terrible on their final power play, but kept the pressure on with the goaltender pulled and Thomas got that huge goal.

After that, they did not rest on their laurels. They kept the pressure on and Alex Pietrangelo took a chance and just fired it on goal. He was likely looking for Schenn at the side of the goal, but got the lucky deflection.

These are the kinds of wins you need going down the stretch. Not everyone is going to have their A-game every night, but sometimes you just need to get a little good fortune. The Blues had some in this game.

It’s not as though they did not deserve to win though. Except the first Thomas goal, all the goals were good ones. Not all the goals given up were the best, but it happens. When you overcome that, despite not playing your best and still get a win in regulation, you soak up all the good vibes and move on to the next one.

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Of course, there isn’t much time for celebration as the Blues play the Kings in less than 24 hours. Even so, a huge win that keeps the Blues in third place with a decent cushion.