The St. Louis Blues needed to get a second win in a row in Buffalo. As usual, they could not make things easy on themselves.
The St. Louis Blues continue to prove they are not one of the elite teams in the NHL. While they are quite good, when at their best, they never seem to dispose of teams that are beneath them. Such was the case against the Buffalo Sabres.
Similarly to their contests against Arizona and Ottawa, both of which ended in losses, the Blues came out well and took it to the opposition early. However, lack of success clouded their minds a little.
Buffalo began to catch the Blues in counter attacks and would score two goals on transitions after the Blues either turned the puck over or missed a shot. St. Louis would score one, sandwiched in between, but all that good will was for nothing in the first period.
Cons: Transition Goals And Turnovers
What is it with this current Blues team and having awful luck when it comes to missed opportunities going the other way? Both of Buffalo’s first period goals went just that way.
Both times, the Blues had chances in the offensive zone. Each time, something went wrong and the Sabres drove the puck the other way.
The first one led to a partial odd-man rush. The Sabres made a great pass through the seam and popped one in on a one timer. It was a solid play by Buffalo, but the Blues always seem to forget about the backside these days.
The second goal was a decent individual effort, as the shooter cut back toward the slot. However, you would like to see Colton Parayko stay on his feet instead of going down to one knee. He might have been better positioned to get a poke on it then.
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You would also like Jake Allen to make that save, but it was still a pretty good shot, into the side netting.
The third goal was just as bad, overall. This one was not a missed chance by the Blues, but it was an odd-man rush for Buffalo. Again, they go right to left and the shot was buried over the glove hand.
It is just very frustrating to have to pay for every missed opportunity. It is games like these that make you cringe with every missed shot because you fear it will spring down to the other end and be put in the back of your net.
Beyond the goals themselves, the Blues were just far too careless with the puck. They gave the Sabres so many opportunities on a silver platter because they turned the puck over or did not get it in/out of the zone.
Jaden Schwartz gave the puck away right in front of the goal, almost immediately after the Blues tied the game. You just cannot have those kind of mistakes this late in the year.
Pros: Pat Maroon
Give the Big Rig two goals in two games. This one ended in a little flashier fashion than in the Pittsburgh game.
Pat Maroon bulldozed his way across the net and then in behind. You could tell Maroon was looking to pass the entire way when he came around the goal. He decided to keep hanging onto it and then used the space given to bury one just away from the blocker. That gave him two goals in two games.
Maroon snapped another quality scoring opportunity from the slot midway through the second that was denied. Even so, you need him to be taking those kinds of shots as they are high percentage chances.
Maroon also kept his physical play up too. Again, like many of his teammates, he is not really blasting people into the boards, but he is strong on the puck and heavy on opponents.
Cons: Stupid Penalties
Through two periods, the Blues were only in the box two times. Normally, you would take that and run.
However, in this game, they were not penalties and the guys that went into the box did not need to put themselves in that position. It was just bad all around.
One of the penalties, David Perron was actually the one that got held. Despite that, the referees somehow saw it the other way and threw Perron in the penalty box.
In a perfect world, Perron would not have even put himself in that position. The two players were jostling behind the play and for whatever reason, the moment the ref saw it, he saw Perron do something apparently. Best to avoid that.
It was a similar situation for Brayden Schenn. His hooking call was a little tap with the stick at best. Again, it was something that did not need to be called.
However, also again, Schenn did not need to put himself in a position where the referee could even make a call. There was no need to even put your stick anywhere near the opponent in that spot.
This was another unnecessary loss to a bad team. I try so hard to give opponents credit for the game they played, but these are just sickening.
Buffalo is not terrible, but they are another team on the outside of the playoff picture. The Blues lose this one, though they gain an important point, but that does not take the sting away.
Nobody for the Blues ever looked comfortable in this game. Jake Allen did not play a bad game, but you could tell he was not sharp either. Despite making over 30 saves, his positioning was off and he seemed edgy and unsure.
The same could be said of a lot of guys. They did not look like they wanted to make plays and then when they would try, it would be the wrong option.
St. Louis got caught trying a lot of dumb, blind drop passes. Vince Dunn, who played a great game in Pittsburgh, was especially guilty of that.
The Blues missed a lot of chances too. Tyler Bozak could have ended the game in overtime, but fanned on what would have been an empty net chance.
Then, once it went to a shootout, you just felt the Blues were going to lose. For whatever reason, they are just not a good shootout team.
Perron held onto the puck too much and dangled too much. He needed to not get so close.
Ryan O’Reilly ended up shooting it over the goal too. It was a decent move and he had the goaltender beat, but you just need to force a save if you are not going to score.
This was not the worst game ever, but it was frustrating to watch. The Blues looked slow and got outhustled and outmuscled for large portions of the game.
The Blues just seemed in scramble mode the entire way.
On the plus side, the Blues never gave up. They gave up the first goal of the game and trailed 3-1, but managed to battle back and get a point.
Now, they need to reset and focus on Edmonton. Eventually the Blues need to be able to put these teams away. The majority of their final 10 games are against teams outside of the playoff picture. You have to stop playing down to your competition.