The St. Louis Blues had an opportunity to put a nice stamp on the end of their season with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues did a lot of Blues things on the way through it all.
The St. Louis Blues took on the Chicago Blackhawks for the final time in 2018-19. Going into the game, we tried telling ourselves all those early season games turned out the way they did because the Blues were not themselves.
However, through the first period, the Blues looked a lot like they did in those early season matchups. St. Louis also made the Blackhawks look good by turning the puck over and setting up their stretch passes.
St. Louis was doing a great job of entering the zone. They had a lot of good pressure, but it amounted to nothing.
The Blues generated the better of the opportunities in the first handful of minutes. The problem, as it has been for awhile, was they kept putting the blasted thing wide.
The Blackhawks were actually putting pucks on net. St. Louis allowed the first goal of the game after a turnover in the neutral zone was followed by a boneheaded defensive play where both defenders went after the puck only to leave Jonathan Toews alone in front.
St. Louis battled back after trailing by two goals. The Blues seem to have an odd thing with two goal leads, either giving them up or taking them away.
Sadly, they did not have enough in the tank in overtime to get the winner. They would lose in a shootout.
Cons: Not Playing Well For The Snake
Haters can hate, but if not for Jake Allen, this game could easily have been 2 or 3-0 after the first period. The Blues were just playing sloppy defense and not taking care of the puck.
The frustrating thing is this seems to continually happen to Allen. This gives all the people who hate him more ammunition and it has gone from opinion to fact. The Blues simply do not do quite as well in front of Allen as they do Jordan Binnington.
Much of the early problem in the first period was just missing chances. You have to hit the net and give your goaltender some support with a goal or two.
Instead, the Blues kept turning the puck over. The Blackhawks love that long, stretch pass and the Blues were serving it up on a silver platter.
It was just one of those turnovers that led to Chicago’s first goal. Then, for some reason only known to a higher power, both Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn went after the puck carrier. Bortuzzo even went so far as to dive after the puck, leaving Toews alone to tuck it in.
If Allen was not in there, you have the feeling that Bortuzzo would have stayed put and guarded his man. Instead, due to no fault of the Snake, the team just loses their mind and plays poorly.
St. Louis cleaned it up for a little bit in the second, but they couldn’t stand prosperity after tying the game. They had to scramble again, allowing another tipped goal for a 2-1 Chicago lead and then take dumb penalties too.
Pros: Vladimir Tarasenko
Thank goodness for Vladimir Tarasenko when playing Chicago. Not since Brett Hull has someone owned the Blackhawks the way Vlady has.
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He scored his 17th goal against Chicago in a little over 20 games. He usually manages to make them count, too.
His goal in this game could not have come at a better time. Tarasenko sniped this one just 26 seconds into the second period, tying the game up 1-1.
Just as impressive was how strong the shot was. Once Tarasenko hit the circle, he had eyes on the goal. Then, he ripped a wrister over the glove hand. The shot was utterly unstoppable.
Tarasenko was also strong on the puck. The Blackhawks managed to poke it away at some opportune times, but Tarasenko was doing some good work in the offensive zone and just not getting rewarded.
Cons: Jaden Schwartz
Can someone put out an APB for Jaden Schwartz. This impostor is fooling no one.
Schwartz’ failure almost directly led to the Blackhawks second goal. He missed a great opportunity to score in the second period. The miss led directly to a breakout for Chicago.
Now, you have to give credit to the save, but when he is on, Schwartz buries that. Instead, he gets this puck stopped and his guy scored afterward.
Schwartz did get back, but it was his man that slipped by and got the tip on the go-ahead goal in the slot. He is not directly at fault, but you still feel like his lack of confidence is directly affecting everything around him like some form of butterfly affect.
Later, Schwartz butchered a shot attempt during the Blues second power play in the third. The giveaway there led to a shorthanded, odd-man rush against. No goal, but just almost as frustrating.
After that, he made a simple backhanded pass that went right to Chicago with about eight minutes played in the third. Again, nothing overly negative came from this, but instead of keeping the puck in and generating pressure, you hand the puck right to the opponent.
Pros: Not Giving Up
Writing these immediately after games becomes somewhat difficult to find the good stuff, even if it is there. That said, as poorly as the Blues played for much of the game, they got a point and forced overtime. That’s not a moral victory, but it shows they are capable of pulling their head out of their rear, if only for brief moments.
The Blues finally got their impotent power play on the board when David Perron snuck one in. It might not have been the most blistering shot of all time, but at least he had the guts to shoot it and look for good things.
Then, almost against the will of the gods, the Blues managed to tie the game in the dying seconds. Tyler Bozak got the puck in the crease and banged home a second effort to even things up at three goals apiece.
Normally, you would think the Blues would get the shaft on the coach’s challenge, but this one stood.
St. Louis made this an uphill battle in overtime by passing up on some shots, but at least they battled the entire time. They had every reason to give up and focus on Philadelphia on Thursday.
Instead, they buckled down and put some pressure on. Like their baseball neighbors, it would be nice to see them stop waiting until the last minute, but I digress.
I have long been a believer that you throw the stats out the window in rivalry games. That said, you cannot lose this game to this team.
Chicago is about as bad defensively as I have seen since their resurgence. They are slow, ill-positioned and lack physicality.
The Blues took advantage of nothing. They did not put on enough pressure and when they did have pressure, it was not sustained enough.
St. Louis played right into the hands of Chicago too. They were sloppy with the puck, which leads to breakouts. That is the Blackhawks bread and butter.
Allen had a typical Allen game. He was the reason this game was not a blowout, but was also part of the reason some goals went in.
As much as I love the guy, I do not understand why he lunges forward onto his stomach so much. It cost him on the Patrick Kane goal. The breakaway should never have happened, but Allen needed to hold his ground too.
It’s great to battle back and get the point, which keeps you alive for the last two games. It stinks to lose in the shooutout when nobody does anything.
Bozak just went directly down the ice and shot it right into the pads. At least disguise it.
The second two shooters actually made some moves, but took the puck right into the goaltender in doing so. Even if you avoid the poke or keep the puck, there isn’t enough room to finish.
Anyway, on to the next one. This game really does not mean a ton other than the frustration of losing to another mediocre team.
Unfortunately, the Blues play two more of those kinds of teams to end the year. They better win if they want home ice at all.