The St. Louis Blues opened their second round series against the Dallas Stars at home. Home ice has meant little so far and St. Louis was hoping to change that.
The St. Louis Blues came into their second round series against the Dallas Stars hoping to get things turned around on home ice. They lost two of three games on home ice against the Winnipeg Jets.
Things started off pretty well. Despite anyone without cable not being able to see the goal, the Blues managed to strike first.
St. Louis opened the scoring less than six minutes into the game. They managed to hold that lead for quite awhile, going into the intermission up 1-0.
Things started to turn in the second period. The Blues had one of their usual inept powerplays and the Stars turned that momentum into a goal minutes later.
The Blues were not going to be denied in this one, however. They got a goal late in the second period and again early in the third period from their sniper, which was a huge boost.
Dallas would pick up a late goal to make it 3-2 after an unfortunate penalty was taken with three minutes left. As usual, the Blues made things way too interesting, continually icing the puck.
Pros: Scoring First
If you consider the Blues a championship contender, then they should be able to overcome almost any situation. Even so, scoring first was paramount in this game and in this series.
The Stars were in the Blues heads during the regular season. Also, during the regular season, the Blues had a far better record when scoring the first goal.
The playoffs are different, but you still need to give yourself any advantage you can. The Blues getting the first goal allowed them to settle in a little bit and be confident in their game.
Robby Fabbri got the goal and, truthfully, it was a little soft. Fabbri sniped a shot through the five-hole and if the stick of Ben Bishop was down, it might not have gone in.
Sometimes you are better off being lucky and the Blues did not let the good fortune of the goal go to waste.
Cons: Where’s The Defense?
The way the game was going, you had a feeling the Blues would not be able to shutout the Stars. Still, how the goal came about was puzzling.
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The Stars came into the zone with a little speed, but it was not as though they were blazing down the ice after a bad turnover. Everything unfolded in an even manner and the Blues should have had time to react.
Instead, they all just stayed where they were and watched the puck. Blues killer, John Klingberg had all the space in the world on the right wing.
He fired a pass across and it was finished off, even though deflected by Jason Spezza. Ok, so a goal was scored. The issue is seeing the replay. All of the Blues back in defensive position were forwards.
The only defender anywhere close was Alex Pietrangelo. He overcommitted by going to his knee on the endline, giving all the space back out front for the pass.
So, you have to ask where in the world the defenders were. Even if you are playing man-to-man, there is no need for your defenders to be that far out of the play.
Also, it looked like the Blues only had four guys on the ice for awhile. Even on a bad line change, things just don’t seem like they should have turned out as they did.
Pros: Making Them Pay
The Blues power play was just awful during their first attempt, which came in the second period. Some of it was not their fault, but it was frustrating nevertheless.
The Blues looked like a peewee team. The puck was bouncing over their sticks on almost every pass. They were tossing passes behind players and playing right into the Stars’ penalty kill.
It could not have been much different the second time around. The Blues struck so quickly that there was no time for them to frustrate anyone.
St. Louis won the faceoff and managed to get it over to the left point and Vladimir Tarasenko as fast as they could. Tarasenko took a couple strides and, before the Stars could close the gap, he fired it through the five-hole for the team’s second goal.
The timing of the goal could not have been better. It was just the sort of lift the Blues needed.
It was bad enough to look so powerless on their first power play, but the power play has long been an issue with this franchise. One goal does not erase all the futility, but it garners respect.
You have to make teams pay for taking foolish penalties. Once the Blues put a goal or two in against the Jets, they stopped taking so many liberties.
Putting an early one in against the Stars, in the grand scheme of the series, will hopefully make them a little less bold.
Thank the maker for Tarasenko and Jordan Binnington. Those two were the big reasons the Blues managed to win this game.
Binnington faced 29 shots and turned away 27. He might not have been pelted with pucks, but there were a lot of quality chances against, especially late in the game.
The odd thing was this was probably the least comfortable Binnington has looked. Even so, he battled through it all and kept his team ahead almost the entire way.
On the flip side, this is the Tarasenko the Blues need. Tarasenko was decisive and strong.
On the first goal, he just took the puck and fired it in on the power play. We’ve seen him wait and wait and pass it quite a bit, but he was rewarded for taking the shot.
The second one was even better. Tarasenko bulldozed his way down the wing and then cut inside so he could roof it. It was a dominant performance by the team’s best scorer.
On a personal note, it was frustrating that Jamie Benn got a goal. As he tends to do, he was flopping around, drawing penalties that did not have to be called but that’s what he is good at. I just wish he was not rewarded for it all with a goal.
Regardless of who scored, it was nervy after that goal. On a side note, I can’t say I have ever seen a referee blow the whistle because he lost sight of the puck and then be the one that called the goal.
Ultimately, the Blues held on and got the win and that will be huge. Now the focus shifts to Saturday.