St. Louis Blues Pros And Cons From Game 71 Vs. Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 16: St. Louis Blues Center Oskar Sundqvist (70) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues on March 16, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 16: St. Louis Blues Center Oskar Sundqvist (70) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues on March 16, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues faced the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final time in 2018-19. Finishing off the Penguins is never easy though.

The St. Louis Blues came into Pittsburgh with their tail somewhat between their legs. They had lost three games in a row and got shut out by the worst team in the NHL.

However, playing Pittsburgh might have been just what the doctor ordered for this Blues team. They tend to play up or down to their competition, so playing a good team after some bad ones was just fine.

The Blues came out strong, scoring two goals in the first period. They came from some unexpected sources, which made it all the better.

While the second period has not been kind to the team in the past, they buckled down for this one. Two more goals came in for a 4-0 lead before Pittsburgh managed to get one past.

Unlike we have seen in recent games, the Blues never let off the gas, except maybe a shift or two. They added another insurance goal later in the third period, but it was not needed.

The defense and the goaltending did their job and kept Pittsburgh out. A shutout would have been nice, but the win is the most important thing.

Pros: Oskar Sundqvist

After a good start and a great streak where Oskar Sundqvist was doing a ton of scoring (for him anyway), the big man went a little cold. You might say he regressed to his level, but that’s up to each fan to decide.

We saw the return of the hot Sundqvist in this game. He scored the first goal of the game on a nice scramble where he was creating some pressure in front and was able to knock it in.

The goal was not all he provided though. Sundqvist was solid on the defensive end too.

He was not overly physical, but opponents knew he was there. He was not a man to be pushed around. Sundqvist won several battles on the boards.

He also had really good stick positioning. Sundqvist broke up a Pittsburgh attacking play deep in the zone in the second period that likely would have led to a goal.

It’s good to see him return to good form. St. Louis needs all the help they can get down the stretch.

Cons: Too Many Early Penalties

The Blues took their 1-0 lead relatively early. Unfortunately, they tried their best to make it last a short while.

The Blues took two consecutive penalties that really put them at a disadvantage. Pittsburgh had been kept quite offensively until those penalties.

In the blink of an eye, the Penguins went from one shot on goal to nine. They went from being outshot to outshooting the Blues, just due to those first two power plays.

Fortunately for St. Louis, they managed to kill them off. However, that is valuable energy used up against a team that can wear you down with multiple waves of attack.

The Blues were a little more disciplined later in the game, but they still took silly penalties. David Perron‘s slash in the second was rather unnecessary, especially coming in the offensive zone.

Again, the Blues managed to kill it off, but you are playing with fire.

Pros: Defensive Scoring

Put the Blues back at the top of the league after this game. Vince Dunn’s two goals put the Blues back at the top of the NHL in defensive scoring.

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It has been such a weird season. The Blues were terrible defensively early on and now lead the league in shutouts.

Their defense was not providing anything offensively after the first handful of games. Now, they are at the top in that category as well.

While his defensive issues still creep up now and again, you cannot argue about Dunn’s offensive ability. Where so many of his teammates, forward and defender alike, try to pass it off constantly, Dunn is looking for his shot.

If you could combine Dunn’s shooting mentality with Colton Parayko‘s shot, you’d have a feared defender. As it is, we will take what we get from Dunn.

Dunn has been one of the few that continually shoot, even when the team was struggling. He kept it up in Pittsburgh and got two goals from the left circle.

Those two goals also give him 11 for the season. That makes it the first time in Blues history that three defenders have 10 or more goals in a season as he joins Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo.

As long as the team has net-front presence, they need to keep bombing from distance.

Pros: Secondary Scoring

This has been something we have been yelling about for weeks now. Even when the Blues were at their best, they were relying on their top line for too much production.

That’s fine when they are on. Nobody stays hot for a year though, so you need production up and down the lineup. St. Louis got that on this day.

None of the scorers were top line players and one could argue none are top-six forwards, though some have been pressed into that duty.

Sundqvist opened the scoring with his rip from the right circle. Then, Dunn scores his goal.

Next, you get a nice tip from Pat Maroon after a fantastic drive around the net by Robert Thomas. Maroon, then, repaid the favor by setting up Jay Bouwmeester who was all alone in the slot.

You got good assists from guys who have been struggling or injured, like Jaden Schwartz and David Perron too.

Whether this is sustainable or not is not the point. The point is the Blues needed their secondary guys to step up to the plate and they did in an important game.


I rarely take credit for predictions, but for some reason I saw this game coming. I even wrote an article about it.

I do not think the Blues could dominate in this fashion if they played Pittsburgh in a playoff series, but for one game they did. The thing is they did all the things that were absent lately.

They had strong net-front presence. Guys were hunting for rebounds and getting in scraps. Players were involved along the boards. Even if they were not hitting, they were winning the battles.

The kids, like Thomas, were showcasing their speed. The Blues made Pittsburgh pay for their mistakes, such as backing into their own net or leaving the slot open.

You got guys outside of your top three to produce on the stat sheet. You got quality goaltending with Jordan Binnington making several key saves. The defending did the rest, keeping Pittsburgh outside for much of their offensive zone time, the same way the Blues had been held out earlier in the week.

There is no time to celebrate though. St. Louis plays Buffalo tomorrow, March 17, and with the Sabres falling apart after their early season success, they may prove more difficult as the Blues play down to their opponents too.

Next. Blues All-Time 10 Best Centers. dark

Focus will be the key. Replicate what you did in Pittsburgh and St. Louis will be fine. Fall back into bad habits and this eastern swing won’t end so well. For now, let’s just focus on the win and beating a quality team.