The St. Louis Blues made a habit of playing down to the level of their lower-tier competition in recent weeks. They took out a lot of frustration against the Edmonton Oilers.
The St. Louis Blues had a lot of pent up emotion prior to the Edmonton Oilers. They had gone 1-1-1 on their recent road trip and 1-2-1 in their last four, with all the losses coming against teams below them in the standings.
The Blues were also tired of dealing with so many injuries. Over the last month, they had lost two of their top three players at various times. They had also been without one of their better scorers in David Perron for almost two months.
With almost the entire lineup finally healthy and the team tired of getting punked, they took it all out on the Edmonton Oilers. A 7-2 showed they were done playing around with these lesser teams, at least for a night.
The Blues had a good first period, but did not capitalize on all their chances. Jaden Schwartz got the first goal on a fantastic shot, but really poor positioning by the Oilers goaltender.
It did not take near as long to get a second goal. That same line set up the second goal early in the second and would have a hand in five of the team’s seven.
The Blues gave the Oilers a little too much hope at the end of the second period. Two goals went in within a minute that barely crossed the line.
Still, the Blues did not give the Oilers any more room. They snuffed out all hope when they scored within the first ten minutes of the third and then added two more after.
Cons: End Of Second Period
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, you could almost forgive the Blues if they took their foot off the gas a little. However, it was not a lack of effort that let Edmonton into the game. It was a lack of focus and mistakes.
For some reason, late in the second period, Jordan Binnington decided to get cute with his puck handling skills. His pass up the middle was picked off without exiting the zone.
Binnington’s turnover lead to the first goal. Even if the Oilers did not score immediately, that run of play was going to end in a Blues penalty if they did not score.
Then, another mistake caused the second goal. The Blues got caught napping after a turnover in the offensive zone.
Edmonton connected on the stretch pass and stuffed one in on the wrap around. The problem was Binnington’s again though.
He bit hard on a shot fake that would have been a bad-angle chance. That left him out of position and an easy wrap attempt that did barely trickle in, but would not have been a problem if Binnington was not so aggressive initially.
Really, the Oilers were lucky to score both of them. On the flip side, the Blues had no business giving up either goal
Pros: Smothering defense
If we give some stuff to the defensive miscues for the two goals, we have to give the defense credit for everything else. They put the clamps down on Edmonton from the start.
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The Blues only allowed five shots in the first period. They only allowed 13 total shots through two periods. Edmonton did not get their 14th shot on goal until almost halfway through the third period.
When you consider the Oilers should have had all the momentum and been trying to cut the lead down to one, you would expect a hard push. The Blues simply never allowed it. You cannot score if you do not even get any shots off.
The Blues just never let Edmonton into this game, no matter how much they pushed. St. Louis was just always in the way of something and that solid defending led to more chances for offense.
Cons: Milan Lucic
Milan Lucic might be a fantastic teammate and a wonderful human being to those he interacts with. I would not know, since he has never played for my team.
From an outsider’s perspective, he’s a scumbag. There are other players that draw ire quicker and with more ferocity, but Lucic ranks up there among them.
He was trying to start stuff all night long. He came in late on a first period hit attempt on Sundqvist and whined to the official when his helmet was the one knocked off.
Then, you get the nonsense toward the end of the game. Frustrated and irritable, Lucic again took his frustrations out on Sundqvist.
This time, the lumbering ox got penalized for a major and a game misconduct on his dirty hit near the boards. While the Blues did get a goal on that power play, Sundqvist did not return.
There was no need for it either. The play was essentially over. While the crosscheck was not the worst you’ll ever see, there was no need. Lucic had to know that Sundqvist would not have time to brace himself.
Maybe he has redeeming qualities if you are playing with him. I do not see them and consider him a dirty player and disliked him immensely in Los Angeles.
Pros: Secondary scoring
It is a wonder what a little health will do for a team. Sometimes it is getting players back in their right slots and sometimes it is just getting players to feel right. All of the above are true for the Blues.
With Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko returning within a couple games of one another, the Blues were able to put guys in spots they were much more comfortable with. The beneficiaries were Perron and Schwartz.
Take nothing away from these guys, as they are former top line players in their own right. However, things do get a little easier when you have the benefit of not going against the opponent’s top defenders. There is a little more space to work with.
That said, the Blues have been desperate to get some secondary scoring. The goals have been coming from defenders, top line guys or sometimes fourth liners.
Against the Oilers, the Blues second line was involved in four goals. One of their members scored on a sixth and seventh too, as Perron’s second and Schwartz’ third goal came on the power play, just with different teammates.
Beyond just that line, the Blues other goal was scored by Pat Maroon and set up by his third line teammates. St. Louis’ secondary forwards combined for 15 points in this game.
The top line played well, but this is the kind of game you need down the stretch. You need guys outside of your top three to put it in the back of the net.
Pros: Pat Maroon
Pat Maroon has been a pleasant surprise in the second half of the season. He has reinvented himself, all for the benefit of the team.
One could have understood if Maroon just called this homecoming a failure and called it a year. It just was not clicking.
Maroon was a first line player in places like Edmonton, Anaheim and an upper six guy in Philadelphia. He was struggling to even click with the fourth line in St. Louis.
His performance against Edmonton showed what he has figured out in St. Louis. He is basically the team’s enforcer, with skill.
Maroon did not have to drop the gloves with the team up four goals, but he did. He was not about to let some Edmonton fool take advantage of that situation and he did himself proud with the scrap.
Maroon scored a nice goal too, jamming one in on the short side, catching the goalie off the post as the Oilers had done to Binnington.
The only thing missing for the Big Rig was an assist for the Gordie Howe hat trick. The goal did give Maroon three goals in three games. He has emerged as an emotional leader for this team.
Interesting what having a healthy team can do for this Blues team. We saw everyone clicking because they were all comfortable, which takes their mind off the game – in a manner of speaking.
The Blues got to take all their frustrations out on the Oilers and, hopefully, put some of these ghosts behind them against teams behind them. St. Louis had as many goals in this game as their previous four, which will hopefully take the cap off the offense.
St. Louis played solid defense, despite the total goals allowed. They kept the door shut on a potentially potent offense that came into this game with only a handful fewer goals than the Blues had.
It was a very important win for the Blues. It keeps the Blues two points ahead of the Dallas Stars, who also won their last game.
This game, though against one of the playoff outliers, showed how deep the Blues can be. They were able to move pieces around to best suit everyone. They even moved Alexander Steen down to the fourth line, which might suit him better.
Time will tell on that. For now, the team looked fierce and strong and comfortable. You could not ask for much better going into the home stretch.