The St. Louis Blues might not have been facing elimination in Game 5 against the Winnipeg Jets. They needed to play like they were and that’s not what we saw.
The St. Louis Blues really needed to win Game 5 against the Winnipeg Jets. A loss would not have eliminated them, but losing three straight and getting dominated in most aspects of the game. It was not a true must-win, but it felt as close as you can get.
Of course, in typical Blues fashion, they crapped the bed early in the game. The Blues forgot to defend the slot yet again, which has been a major problem the last three games, and allowed a goal in the first 15 seconds of the game.
The Blues battled back for a little while, actually generating more scoring chances in the first period than the Jets, but missing on all of them. St. Louis kept firing high or wide.
St. Louis had a clear breakaway in the first and missed the net. They had empty nets in front of them and still managed to not score as well.
Things only got worse in the second. The Blues were afforded even less space and still managed to shoot high or wide when given an opportunity. Then, just as with the first, it was a defensive miscue that led to Winnipeg’s second goal.
However, seemingly beyond belief, the Blues managed to turn things around in the third. The Blues got a power play goal 89 seconds into the period.
They scored their final two goals in the last seven minutes of the game. The go-ahead goal came in the last 15 seconds.
St. Louis found a way to grind this one out and the win could not have been bigger.
Cons: Oskar Sundqvist’s Whiff
The Blues were already down by a goal at this point, so who knows if this was a game breaker. Nevertheless, you absolutely need to score in that instance.
Oskar Sundqvist was sprung open on a breakaway and the nearest Jets player was a good two strides, or more, behind him. As the Blues love to do, he missed everything.
Darren Pang tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it might have nibbled off the goaltender’s pad. It did not. It simply went wide of the net.
You cannot do that. If you cannot score, you have to make the goaltender make a save at the very least.
Connor Hellebuyck had no clue what was going on either. He reacted to where he thought the shot was going and then fell on his butt. He was not going to save that. The puck was going to either hit him or go in and instead Sundqvist went with the third option and bailed him out.
He was not the only one to miss the net, but his was the clearest example. Things like that don’t always cost you games, but when they continually add up, they will cost you a series.
Pros: Double-Minor Kill
The way the game played out, you would have thought this meant very little until you got to the final moments of the contest. The Blues were already down by two goals by the time the first penalty got called.
More from Analysis
- St. Louis Blues and Cardinals Similar In All The Wrong Ways
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 82 At Dallas
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 81 Vs Dallas
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 80 At Minnesota
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 79 Vs NY Rangers
Of course it would go against the Blues. Of course it would happen mere moments after the officials swallowed their whistles on two textbook trips. I’m all for letting guys play but those were videos you would show your referees in the offseason to show what a trip is.
Anyway, the point being, the Blues had the misfortune of being the first in the box. Robert Thomas somehow flung his stick up toward the opponent’s head and drew a double-minor.
A third, or even potentially fourth or firth, goal by Winnipeg in that time frame would have been game over. Instead this kill, along with a regular minor kill later in the game ended up having a gigantic impact on the outcome.
Cons: Awful Defensive Breakdowns
Credit goes to the Jets for their persistence and drive. However, both goals for the Jets to make it 2-0 were direct results of defensive miscues.
The first goal, there was a board battle in the corner and the Blues lost it. That’s bad enough, but it happens. However, there was nobody guarding the slot. Ryan O’Reilly was there, but it was zonal defense at best. Adam Lowry was basically all alone in front of the net while O’Reilly was closer to the hashmarks.
It does take a good pass, or a lucky pass, to get through. Still, if you are more aware of where the player is rather than hoping you’re in the passing lane, maybe that one does not happen. It certainly should not happen 12 seconds in.
The second goals till astounds me. Joel Edmundson might not be the most fleet of foot, but he’s one of the team’s better defenders. You would not know that if you only saw him on the Jets second goal.
The entire play unfolded as though it was in slow motion. Kevin Hayes just kept his feet moving as he took it down the right wing and then calmly slid by Edmundson, who put up absolutely no resistance.
Vince Dunn probably should have drove in lower to take away the space, but you could argue he was trying to guard the man in front. The backchecking forward could also have done more to get a stick in.
Instead, what you got was three white shirts all just watching as Hayes had two or three cracks at it and finally jabbed it in. It was about as frustrating as things can get from the standpoint of preventable plays.
Pros: Unfathomable Finish
Listen, I try to be even keel with these things. Having taken journalism and broadcasting classes in college and trying to be a broadcaster, that’s just how my brain works.
That said, I thought the Blues were done. As a lifelong fan, you always hope and try to keep that hope alive even though this team has crushed our soul more times than we can count.
Somehow, depsite getting outplayed and outmuscled for most of this contest, the Blues managed to pull it off. They scored three unanswered goals, with the last two coming in incredible fashion.
St. Louis tied the game up on a Brayden Schenn goal. It seemed almost a certainty the Blues would not get the goal since the net was knocked off just as the puck was about to cross. However, fate smiled on the Blues and they were awarded that goal.
Then, just when we were all settling in for the second overtime game in a row, Jaden Schwartz ended it. It was an unbelievable tip-in goal that came with only 15 seconds left and sent the Jets fans down to their seats in stunned silence.
The goal belongs to Schwartz on so many levels. The part of the play that will go unseen is along the end boards.
There was a scrum along the wall and Schwartz jumped in. He was actually the one that jabbed it loose and then he popped out in front.
From there, Tyler Bozak found a little space on the near wall and fired a hard pass in front for the tip-in. The pass deserves a lot of credit too since the Blues had so many weak ones knocked away while Winnipeg kept them buzzing by.
I’m not ashamed to say I had counted this team out. I was pleasantly surprised and it was an even better ending to have Schwartz score it after all the bad things that have happened for him this season.
What an emotional game this was for all involved. From the players and coaches, down to us little guys (the fans), this one took a lot out of all of us but it ended with a smile.
The Blues had their moments throughout this game. It was not as though they were crushingly dominated throughout, but with all the misses and blown defensive assignments, you felt it was slipping away.
The Blues were actually outpacing the Jets in terms of scoring chances, but you never felt they were getting sustained pressure. The Jets just kept coming and coming.
It seemed a long shot to come back at all, let alone needing two or three goals in the third period when you had been shut out to that point.
St. Louis was achingly predictable on their power play, but still managed to poach a power play goal from O’Reilly. They were not always getting the pucks through, but the Blues managed to keep it in the zone and keep the pressure up and got the Schenn goal.
Those penalty kills managed to be gigantic for this team too as another Jets goal would have been the kill shot. Jordan Binnington was stellar again, as he needed to be.
It was not pretty and it certainly was not comfortable, but this team managed to come together the way they did at the end of the year.
Fittingly, on a day when I said the Blues were in no man’s land with their lines, they finally make some changes and the players come through with the performances.
Now, it’s all down to whether the Blues can end this streak of five games with the road team coming out on top. St. Louis used up too much energy a couple years ago by not finishing teams off. It would be nice to finally put the proverbial knife in and twist it.