The St. Louis Blues had a great opportunity to sweep their west coast trip. It fell short at the final moments though.
The St. Louis Blues had not swept their way through California since 2007. That streak will keep on going as the team fell short of taking all the points against the San Jose Sharks.
The Blues gave themselves a good way to pick up the win. The Blues have won almost 74% of their games when scoring the first goal of the game and they did that in San Jose.
It was a bit of good luck, but Pat Maroon still had to have the skill to track the puck off the wall and then knock it in. That takes a lot of concentration.
Unfortunately, the Blues just did not have it all together throughout the entire game. St. Louis did not play a poor game, but they went long periods without shots or even getting into the offensive zone, other than for a moment or two.
These lapses in offensive pressure and spending too much time in the defensive end allowed the Sharks to score two unanswered goals and take a 2-1 lead.
Then, the Blues kept their late period magic going with a power play goal at 19:58 of the second period. However, instead of making that a jumping off point, the Blues fell asleep in the third period.
St. Louis got outshot and only kept alive due to goaltending. In the end, they forced overtime and gained an important point. It is just disappointing for a sweep to be that close and not happen.
Pros: Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn continues to amaze. He does not have all the dangles and silky moves of your average superstar, but this guy is money when it comes down to it.
Of course, like any player, Schenn has some detractors out there. One of my friends, who I value their hockey opinion very highly, was very critical of Schenn earlier in the year. That was when the entire team was malfunctioning though.
Now, Schenn has become the prime cog in this team. The departure of the team’s offense while he was out and the immediate return when he came back from injury was a showcase of that.
Schenn was on again today. He was not perfect, ending up a minus-1 even though he scored a goal, but the effort was there. He gets to those areas on the ice that others don’t always want to.
His goal was evidence of that. Schenn intended to give a pass toward the side of the net to Tyler Bozak. After it was intercepted, he took it off the defensive stick and banged it right in.
If someone does not drive to the net after their pass, that’s an easy clearance. If he isn’t cat-quick, it ends up as a scrum in front that is 50/50 at best.
Instead, Schenn kept at it, as he has throughout this entire stretch for the Blues, and the Blues tied it up.
Cons: Defensive Tracking
There is an old phrase – not so old really, but anything older than one or two years is old now – that says haters gonna hate. So, I am sure there were some out there that blamed one or more goals on Jake Allen. Let us not even discuss them.
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The truth is that the Blues failed to keep solid track of Timo Meier. Meier ended up scoring both of the Sharks’ goals in regulation. On both goals, he was relatively open in front of the net.
On the first one, it was a little more understandable since the Sharks were on the power play. Nevertheless, Jay Bouwmeester seemed anchored to the top of the crease as Meier slid by, took the pass and shot it in. The one thing you might say negatively about Allen was he lost track of Meier as well, thinking the pass would go cross-ice, not to someone in front. Regardless, Meier was untouched.
The second one, Allen had no chance on. Colton Parayko failed to hold the puck in the zone and was slow to get back. That left Bouwmeester to take the puck in the corner and Ryan O’Reilly guarding the wall.
What O’Reilly failed to realize was Meier had left the wall and was all alone in the slot. The pass came quicker than the back check, so Meier had to just make one, slick move and tuck it in on the backhand.
These are all bang-bang plays that are easy to criticize watching slow-motion replays, but that does not remove blame from the man marking of the team’s defense.
You simply cannot give up chances that close to goal and think it will work out for you. It ended up costing the Blues in this one.
Pros: Jake Allen
Say what you will about the goals. Personally, I do not think there was much to be done about them by anyone.
Regardless, the Blues earn a point from this game because of Jake Allen. Allen made 30 saves in this game and many of them were quality.
One of the shakiest aspects of Allen’s game during the winter months was his glove hand. He made, at least, five hard glove saves in this one and more than that overall.
His athleticism, which is something that was a staple of his game earlier in his career, was on show here too. He constantly battled and earned his position instead of shrinking back into the net, which has been a major problem when he is off his game.
Allen was confident and calm in the net, which is what they need from him. Instead of freaking out and going to the butterfly too early, he stood up and made a good save on a breakaway with three minutes left in regulation.
His double pad stack save was not too shabby either.
Jake was the Snake in this game. He was a big reason the Blues got anything from it as they had their struggles elsewhere.
It’s a shame another loss goes in the books for Allen. He has played well to great in five of his last six games. The wins are not always there for him though.
If you look at this game in a vacuum, it’s basically the half glass of water test. Some will see the good and some will see the bad.
The good is that you held your own against one of the league’s best on their home ice. You had opportunities to win, even without a completely healthy lineup. The half full people will say the team might pull that one off if they had all their players.
The bad is that you lost the game. You do get a point, but use up one of your games in hand to do so and don’t give yourself much cushion between you and the team below. You allow one of the better teams in the league to get off the hook after you put them down by an early goal and then rely on your goaltender to get you that point.
Of course, the truth is in the middle. The Blues should be proud they earned five of six points on this road trip. Anaheim and Los Angeles might not be the teams they once were, but the buildings are still difficult to play in.
You won both of those and had a chance to win the game in San Jose. Losing is not good and the team should not want moral victories, but you cannot brush aside any positives just because you had tired legs on the ice for a two-on-one.
The Blues were not at their best and could have won. That is the story of this game and this game alone. We can argue about tying to win without your best in the playoffs other times. For me, five points out of three games is good enough.