The St. Louis Blues continued their late season push for the playoffs against the Arizona Coyotes. Despite playing well, things did not go smoothly.
The St. Louis Blues have always had an odd relationship with the Arizona Coyotes. Win or lose, they have rarely come out and cleaned the Coyotes clock despite some lean years in Arizona.
The same was true the last couple years. The Blues finished 1-2 last season and came into this game 1-1 against Arizona.
Things did not go well for the Blues in this one either. The Blues began with a decent but rather mundane first period.
St. Louis outshot their opponent, but little else. They forced some good saves, but far too many were on the ice which made for a lot of pad saves.
Then, the Blues gave up the lead early in the second period. For an unknown reason, Jordan Binnington passed it right to a Coyotes player who easily slotted it into an empty net.
The Blues continued to have the better of the play, including some physicality and fights, but could not find an answer.
Cons: Jordan Binnington’s Gaffe
We all gave hell to Jake Allen for that huge mistake against the Carolina Hurricanes and with reason. Those that are fair will give the same grief to Binnington for this one.
It all seemed like and should have been an average play. Binnington stopped the puck in behind the goal as goalies do 10 or more times a game.
Instead of firing it hard up the glass, or a soft backhand pass to his teammate 10 feet away, Binnington went hard up the middle with his pass. It ended up right on the stick of Richard Panik, who buried it into an empty net with Binnington still on the far side of the net.
It was a bad play right from the start, but it was amazing how bad. The pass went right to an opponent when there were options elsewhere.
You could tell Binnington had no clue that the puck ended up with the Coyotes either. His attempt to get back into position did not seem that urgent either, meaning he either did not see the opponent with the puck or was unaware the pass did not get to its intended target.
Binnington made some solid saves before and after that. For a long time, however, it looked as though that would be the determining factor in the game.
Pros: Pat Maroon
The Blues needed some big performances by their scorers in this game and did not get them. While Pat Maroon is not going to get you a lot of goals, he was productive in other ways.
The biggest way was the fight to get his team and crowd back into the game.
Immediately after the first goal allowed, Maroon charged the Arizona net hoping for a rebound. He did get there a little late, but the reaction from the Arizona defenseman seemed a bit much.
Nevertheless, Maroon responded in kind and the gloves went off. From there, Maroon proceeded to wail away on his head, proving you don’t mess with a motivated Big Rig.
It was one of those games where Maroon’s addition to the game did not really show up in the stats. He had one shot and was a minus-1 for much of the game, but he still had impact.
He was an energizing force. He was jawing with the opposing bench throughout the game. It is a pity his contributions were not fed off of for more than a shift or two.
The St. Louis Blues just cannot catch a break when it comes to injuries right now. In this game, it felt like Oprah was handing out injuries.
Within the past two weeks they have had two top line players miss time. There was a fear of losing Maroon due to an injury in practice, but he played.
Then, within this game alone, the Blues lost one player and had three others go to the locker room.
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Joel Edmundson was the player who got hurt and stayed hurt. He limped to the back and never returned, leaving the team short one defender.
Sammy Blais, Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist all missed several shifts throughout the game with apparent injuries too. Fortunately, all three came back for the third period but it was not smooth sailing.
Blais looked banged up the entire time, barely making it back to the bench after one shift. Schenn and Sundqvist looked fine in the third, but we have seen plenty of guys finish the game only to go on IR later.
The Blues have some depth in the scratch list and the minors, but this is just not the time to be getting injuries. Clearly the team has no control over that, but it just stinks as a fan to watch your guys drop like flies.
Cons: Never Looking The Fresher Team
The Blues did not play a poor game in the overall sense. If we are honest, they never really put their stamp on this game from the very start though.
Both teams just sort of waded into the water in the first part, with the Blues having the better of the chances but having too many low shots. Then, both teams seemed to wake up after the cheap goal given up by Binnington but that was too late for the Blues.
St. Louis needed to jump right on top of the Coyotes from the word go. They failed to do so, which has been a pattern for this franchise for years.
Arizona had played the night before, allowing seven goals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Even if we take the result out of the discussion, the Blues were the fresher team.
St. Louis had just had two or three days off (depending on your point of view). The Coyotes played the night before and you cannot come out with more energy in the first period?
You are coming off a rare bit of rest this time of year and you have one of the sloppier games we have seen in recent weeks? There is no excuse for it.
The Blues never seem to take advantage of this situation. I wish there were stats kept about such a thing that were easily accessible.
The Blues almost never make a team coming off a game the night before pay for it. It feels like the Blues never win those games either.
It is very anecdotal, but it just seems like the Blues always think they will just win by going out there since the other team should be tired. Then, the Note gets slapped in the face by reality.
This was a team in desperate need of points, coming into the night just one point out of a playoff spot. I do not care if they allowed 20 goals and played the previous two nights, you cannot take them lightly at any point.
The Blues just did not do enough to win this game. They had flashes here or there and even a few sustained bits of pressure.
In the grand scheme, you never really got the feeling they would take this game once that first goal went in. Thankfully, we did not see the return of the hanging head Blues but there was little belief.
The Blues had plenty of chances, so you cannot fault their effort. You also have to give Darcy Kuemper a lot of credit for the saves he made, but it just did not feel as though he stole it. He made several quality saves and faced 40 overall, but it did not feel as though he won it by himself.
Of course, the officials did the Blues no favors either. Arizona did not play a dirty game, but they got away with a lot.
The Blues power play has been terrible at home, so maybe it does not make a difference but it takes your mind off the game if you think calls are missed. The worst was when Schenn got a stick to the eye, which should have been a double-minor and there was absolutely no call. Pouring salt in that wound, the ref apparently said the cut was from running into the glass. That is a joke that there are four guys officiating this game and a stoppage immediately afterward and nobody has the guts or eyes to make that call.
The Blues almost lost Schenn to an injury earlier in the game and now he had a stick scrape right against his eye. Not the best of scenarios for a player that just got back.
You allow two bad goals and one empty net goal. Binnington was only at fault for one, but the defense just sort of watched the puck bouncing around their feet before the second one happened.
St. Louis had their chances. You get 40 shots, you would think you could score more than one late goal. It just was not to be on this night.
It just sort of sits in the pit of your stomach when it does not feel like everything was left on the ice, no matter what the TV crew said. I am not talking about effort as they were hustling, but the execution was nowhere to be found with the exception of one or two players. Even Ryan O’Reilly, who has regularly been one of the team’s best, was off. He missed the net at least five times and maybe more.
The Blues better bounce back quickly because teams are breathing down their neck. A few results elsewhere have gone their way, but you cannot count on that the rest of the season. They have to take care of their own business.