The St. Louis Blues had tons of momentum on their side coming off two wins in Winnipeg against the Jets. Momentum does not always carry though, so they had to be prepared for a storm.
The St. Louis Blues knew what was coming their way when the puck dropped on Game 3 against the Winnipeg Jets. It might have been a little more than any of us really anticipated, but, thankfully, the Blues took it all in stride.
Winnipeg came out on fire to start the game. Right from the start of the contest, the Jets threw everything and the kitchen sink at goal.
Their play was not overly desperate, but you could tell they were trying to put a stamp on this game from the start. The Jets were throwing hits, keeping the puck in the zone and peppering the Blues goal.
St. Louis found a way to hold on. Through one period of play, the Blues had a 1-0 lead off a rare power play goal. That had to get under the skin of Winnipeg.
The problem became the Blues either did not put them off their game or Winnipeg saw something they could still exploit. The Jets came out just as hard in the second period and this time the Blues were on their heels.
Winnipeg scored three unanswered goals in the second period, pushing their advantage to 3-1. The Blues would finally get some jump in the third with an early power play goal.
It was just not meant to be, though. Every time the Blues scored, the Jets would answer right away, with an extra goal tucked in there as well.
The Blues let a tough one slip away in their first home game, deflating an upbeat crowd just the way they had done up north. The Jets won 6-3 and gave themselves a shot to even the series in the next one.
Pros/Cons: Weathering The Storm
Depending on who you ask, this was either a great thing or a bad thing. So, I will classify it as both.
The Blues truly had to weather a storm at the beginning of this game. Winnipeg was firing pucks from everywhere, but not just desperate tosses at the net.
They were getting quality scoring chances from grade-A spots on the ice. Jordan Binnington had to make a handful of top-notch saves in the first few minutes of the period alone.
We all knew Winnipeg would come out and play this game fast and look for an early haymaker. The worrying thing was the Blues complete lack of offense.
St. Louis only had one shot on goal through the first 10 minutes of the period. It is one thing to soak up pressure, but to not provide any counter is slightly concerning.
Those that were happy with the team taking it all in stride point out how it had to frustrate the Jets to give the Blues their best shot and come up empty. I agree with that, but the offensive part of the Blues game is what worried me.
If you spend so much effort defending, getting no pressure in the offensive zone, you can easily tire yourself out. Some call it a rope-a-dope scenario, but Ali was not using up a bunch of energy on the ropes. The Blues were using up quite a bit in their defensive zone.
In the end, it worked. The Blues poached a goal in the first and Winnipeg had to be frustrated after that first period. It’s a dangerous game to play, however.
Cons: Second Period
I am not sure if the St. Louis Blues felt they had deflated the Jets after the first period or what their issue was. They suddenly transformed into the early-October team instead of the one we have seen in March and April.
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The Blues just looked like they sleptwalked through the entire second period, save for a brief stint here or there.
You have to give the Jets credit. They came out with the same gameplan as those first ten minutes and got rewarded for it.
Clearly the message was to keep at it and the Blues would eventually buckle and they did. The disappointing thing was how St. Louis did not keep up their game going.
They sort of proved the first goal of the game was somewhat of a fluke since they could not muster any offense in the second period at all. It was little to no offensive zone time or pressure and just all Jets – at least it felt that way.
Cons: Defense Optional
If we thought things were bad in the second period, they did not get any better in the third. St. Louis tried to put up a fight, but they could not find a way to hem the Jets in.
The Blues would score two goals in the third period. If you play even semi-decent defense, you give yourself a shot at the end of the game.
St. Louis had the game cut to 3-2 with a fine goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. That should get you pumped.
The building was jumping and hopeful. Momentum should have been on their side, and instead they let it slip away.
Each time the Blues scored, they almost immediately allowed a Jets goal. Even if you keep one of those out, you manage to give yourself a chance with the goaltender pulled at the end of the game.
Instead, the Jets were allowed to snuff out any Blues hope early on. Minutes after Tarasenko got a goal, the Jets scored two, including one off Jordan Binnington’s mask.
Alexander Steen gave the team a little hope by cutting it to a 5-3 game. That barely lasted a minute before the Jets punched Blues fans in the gut again.
The forwards did not backcheck enough. The defenders looked lost again. There were goals scored where the closest players to the net were Blues forwards. That is just not good positioning.
It was just a poor defensive showing overall and this team has to be better than that, otherwise more of the same will happen.
Are you sweating now? I know I am.
I am about as far from a negative person as it gets, but the Blues make you have fear. The problem with taking both games in Winnipeg and then losing Game 3 is the worry we will all have in Game 4. If you lose the next one, it becomes a three game series with the Jets having home ice and almost forcing the Blues to steal Game 5.
The other thing wrong with this game was how it went down. We all knew the Jets were coming. Though we hoped and tried to convince ourselves it might happen, there was little real chance of a sweep.
However, to get crushed in most aspects of the game was just disheartening. It was not to the epic levels of awfulness, but this team truly was closer to what we saw in the Fall of 2018 than the Spring of 2019.
There were defensive miscues and gaffes. The zone exits were terrible. The passing was not there and the Blues tried to rely on defense far too much on a night the defense was not there.
I get that the pressure was always going to come. To get outshot 10-1 in the first 10 minutes is not conducive to winning hockey. You have to have some possession to relieve the pressure.
Oddly enough, the Blues actually evened out or won most of the statistical categories and still got blown out. Shots were even, the Blues actually had the better power play percentage, won more faceoffs and had more hits.
Like the early part of the 2018-19 season, none of that mattered. The Blues were constantly outshooting opponents, but the chances given up were far too great. That’s what doomed Jake Allen. Maybe he let up a soft one here or there, but despite only facing shots in the teens or low 20’s, they were all from the slot or odd man rushes or backdoor plays.
Binnington faced the same on this night. The Jets came with a lot of pressure, but that shouldn’t have mattered. However, on those first 10 saves, at least eight were quality stops or fantastic saves. That’s not the kind of percentage you can be giving up against a team with the Jets’ firepower.
It is easy to say it is one game and you regroup, but that was a butt whooping in many senses of the word.
On the positive side, if the Blues play even half decent defense, they are in the game. On the negative side, this was a glimpse into the past we hoped to never see again.
The next game will be huge. It is not a must-win in the general sense of the word, but it is close. The Blues need to slow down the Jets and dim their hope. Going back to Winnipeg tied 2-2 is not an option I want to see.