The St. Louis Blues had a chance to put a stranglehold on the Dallas Stars if they stole two wins in Big D. Instead, Game 4 was possibly the worst game we have seen this playoff run.
The St. Louis Blues have had very few stinkers this playoff season. Unfortunately for them, they seem to have their worst games when they have a chance to put a choke hold on a series.
The Blues had a 2-0 series lead against Winnipeg and then fell by a score of 6-3. They had a 2-1 lead against Dallas with a chance to go up 3-1 and possibly close it out at home. Instead, they allowed the Stars to rattle off four unanswered goals and pick up a 4-2 win.
The Blues were never really in this one. They scored the first goal of the game, but never got going after that until the very end.
The Blues were sloppy and slow. They got caught out continuously on bad line changes or long shifts.
St. Louis failed to pick up the backside pressure time after time. They also got suckered in on so many extra curricular incidents, proving the Stars are starting to get into their heads.
The officials did not help, but that’s a different matter. The Blues had a chance to get things back in their favor in the second period and let it slip away instead.
As seems their way, the Blues found a little extra in the third period. This too little, too late stuff has to stop though.
Pros: Quick Power Start
The Blues power play is literally feast or famine this playoff year and the entire year overall. It seems like hyperbole, but they truly either score or look like garbage.
Fortunately, they managed to score this time and early. The Blues got the first goal of the game, which is normally a good signal they will win.
Unlike so many other power plays we have seen in this series, the Blues won the faceoff and that was huge. They got the puck back to Vince Dunn who fired a quick pass over to Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko took a couple strides and fired it in.
You got about everything you needed on that play alone. You got a faceoff win, first and foremost.
The Blues were quick and decisive with their passes, which has not been the case and was not the rest of this game. Then, you got your top star to score a goal on the power play.
This was only the second power play goal by the Blues this series. You hoped that was the spark they needed to take this game. It did not happen to go that way.
Cons: Weak Refereeing
I try to leave referees out of these articles as much as possible. I’m an official for soccer, so I know how hard the job is and how easy it is for all the eyes in the stands to judge.
That said, the refs were bad in this game. The worst was the bogus interference call they made against Tyler Bozak.
Bozak was near the side of the net as his teammate was going around the net. He did take a step out to set a small pick on Roman Polak. However, there was so little contact that Polak was barely thrown off his stride.
Regardless of what the letter of the law says, that is not a penalty. It happens 10 times a game all over the ice and the officials decide to call this garbage.
Not only was that barely a penalty, if at all, but there is so much stuff that does not get called that it makes this one look even more laughable.
If you want to pick on the Blues, the refs missed David Perron putting his stick in the spine of Ben Bishop. If you look at the Stars, they are constantly chopping at anything that moves like they are trying to fell a redwood. None of that got called, but a pick that barely made the jersey move is a penalty?
It does make things worse that the Stars scored on that too. The goal may have gone in anyway as it was a roof shot, but maybe it does not go in if the Blues are at full strength. We will never know.
The point is there has to be consistency. If you call that, especially as early in the game as it was, you need to be putting guys in the box left and right. Instead, there were very few penalties called, overall, and they manage to see a penalty in this situation.
Cons: Not Matching Intensity
The Blues just were not on in this game. Even before the Tarasenko goal, the Stars looked like they had an edge. The Blues just managed to get that early power play and make it count.
As has been the case in almost every game, however, the Blues never seem to turn up the dial after they score. You would like to think that is not the case, but the Blues almost seem to play like they think the other team will roll over once St. Louis gets a goal.
When you are up in a series and up in the game, you have to know the other team is going to throw everything at you. St. Louis either did not anticipate that or just could not match the same intensity that Dallas brought.
Even after the Stars tied it, the Blues just looked a step off. They were not winning puck battles and looked slow.
St. Louis could not hold the zone and could not exit the zone. The team’s second line of Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Perron seems to always be the line that gets stuck out too long and gassed. Oddly enough, they were not made to pay because of it.
Lots of other people were. The Blues failed to pick up the late man or guard the back side several times.
The goal given up to John Klingberg was a killer too. The Blues just seemed to be moving in slow motion. Nobody closed the space and one of the top offensive defenseman was allowed to just stroll in and pick his spot.
Credit does need to go to the Stars. They showed up to play, they were sharp and got under the Blues skin.
That said, the Blues just found no way to match anything Dallas did. They weren’t strong enough, not fast enough and not decisive enough in any zone.
This game was one of, if not the most disappointing of this playoff run. Even if you take the potential to grab a 3-1 lead out of the equation, the overall way the Blues played was just so disappointing.
You get the first goal of the game and you think things are going to go pretty good. Instead, your opponent just takes a hold of the game that could have easily been yours.
St. Louis is just not doing enough of the little things. They are not winning enough faceoffs, especially at key times like in the offensive zone to start power plays.
They are not getting enough shots through. The Blues only trailed Dallas by two shots in this game, but they had 20 shots blocked.
Even when St. Louis was playing better, they allowed the Stars to dictate the game too much. The last two or three minutes with the goaltender pulled were a huge example.
St. Louis could not get the puck off the perimeter. It’s fine and well to have all that possession, but you have to do something with it. The Blues never got into the danger areas because they seemed unwilling to go there and pay the price.
As well as he has played previously, Pat Maroon was a complete nonfactor when they needed his kind of grit to counteract what the Stars were throwing at them.
The top lines were silent again, despite the Tarasenko goal. None of the goals were Jordan Binnington‘s fault, but he looked off his game too.
The Blues have to find a way to rebound in Game 5. Most people assumed this series would go close to the distance, but the worrying thing is we still have not seen the Blues play well.
You could argue St. Louis has been in every game even not playing well. You cannot keep relying on that though and the Blues have to go out there and dominate, regardless of the score.