The St. Louis Blues needed a big response in Game 5 against Dallas after a stinker two nights before. In typical Blues fashion, nothing is ever easy.
The St. Louis Blues knew they needed to come out hot against the Dallas Stars in Game 5. After getting their butts handed to them for 50 minutes in Game 4, they had to show Dallas they still meant business.
Unfortunately, the Blues can never get everything right. The Blues came out with some great energy to start the game, but they put themselves out of their game.
The Blues were almost out of control the way they were flying around and it put them out of position. The defense went into scramble mode and the Stars got the first goal of the game less than three minutes in.
After that, the Blues just tried to stand pat. Instead of finding a way to grab the game, they seemed to just hope to hang on and give themselves a chance late.
In typical Blues luck, St. Louis had a defender accidentally deflect in the Stars second goal. The entire second period seemed to spiral out of control.
The Blues finally showed a little life in the third, but it was still nowhere near enough. St. Louis goal only came because the Dallas goaltender made a boneheaded mistake.
St. Louis found a way to put on a good amount of pressure at the end. Even so, you cannot keep trying to leave these games until the final moments. The Blues have never been good with their goaltender pulled and you have to play more than just 20 minutes.
Cons: Out Of Control Start
As mentioned, the Blues came out strong in this game. If we had seen this kind of energy to begin every game, the Blues might have an edge in this series instead of being even coming into this game.
The problem is that the Blues were focused on everything except what they needed to. St. Louis was overly concerned with picking up hits, bit hits in particular, against Dallas.
It is great to be physical, but the Blues’ game is not predicated on physicality. If you can pick up a hit here and there in the course of play, great. St. Louis is about pressure and quality cycling once you gain the zone.
The Blues had good energy, but were out of control. Their passes were sloppy, giving it away several times while in the neutral zone or trying to exit/enter the zone.
It was just that kind of messed up play that led to Dallas’ first goal. The Blues had two players lose two separate board battles in the offensive zone.
After Jordan Binnington stopped a quality scoring chance, the Blues actually outnumbered the Stars four to three. However, every single Blues player in picture on TV was standing upright and still, while Jason Spezza fired a shot past a partially screened Binnington.
That sucked the life out of the game for the Blues and the crowd. All that energy was for nothing.
Pros: Jordan Binnington
Thank the powers that be the Blues have Jordan Binnington. I may not have been his biggest supporter during the regular season, but he was the only reason this was anything close to resembling a game.
This game could have and should have been 5-0 before the second period was halfway through. St. Louis was simply hanging their goaltender out to dry. This was reminiscent to what the Blues were doing to Jake Allen the entire first half of the year.
It is simply unfathomable that the Blues could be playing so terribly and not even focusing on helping out their teammate that was trying everything he could to keep the team in the game. Binnington made save after save on breakaways and odd man rushes and the Blues did absolutely nothing to help him out.
Fans love to say a goaltender has to steal you a game. If the Blues did anything resembling hockey, maybe Binnington could have done that.
I cannot remember the last time the Blues were so awful at guarding their own blue line and so slow through the neutral zone. The Blues gave up so many breakaways through two periods alone that this game could have been out of reach.
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The Blues gave up three breakaways on one power play to start the second period. Most of that was due to the terrible puck control of Vince Dunn.
The puck kept rolling over his stick like there was a hole in it. He was responsible for at least three of the Stars breakaways by himself.
Even if it was not a breakaway given up, Dunn was just awful. He gave the puck away several times in the defensive zone too. It literally felt like he could do no right in this game.
On top of all that, the Stars had two consecutive breakaways, even at even strength, some happening after shot attempts were blocked. The Stars were just packing it in near their goal, so the Blues shots were often not even getting through. Then, the Stars were able to turn those blocks into possession and break out of the zone against two defenders that were flat-footed.
The breakaways churned the stomach as it was. The shorthanded chances made you want to rip your hair out.
99% of us have not played the sport at the highest level (that might be a low percentage, but you never know who is reading), so we do not know what it’s like to be out there. However, you just cannot allow a team to look like they have an extra man when you are on the power play.
St. Louis was winning absolutely no battles, with David Perron skating so lackadaisical in the neutral zone that even Chris Kerber became upset. As he said, there is no way to understand how that kind of play can happen at that stage of the game given everything that had transpired before that.
This was eerily reminiscent of early season Blues hockey and nothing at all like the last two months.
Cons: David Perron
I try not to focus on a single player as a con, but it is impossible not to. David Perron was so weak in this game that it has to be singled out.
I would give Dunn his own section too as bad as he was, but I discussed him at length regarding the breakaways given up. Perron did not have a lot of major plays that came off his mistakes, but there were just so many mistakes.
Clearly this is unofficial, but I counted four times in the third period alone that Perron had an opportunity to win a puck battle that would have kept it in the zone. Instead, he turned his back towards it, giving him absolutely no chance to jab it away unless the puck magically hit his stick as he spun around.
It happened time after time. This guy was such a pleasant surprise during the regular season, but he has refused to do anything close to the extra step during this series. It stinks to not have his offense, but he can at least act like he gives a damn.
You know the Blues are not going to have any shot at keeping the puck if Dallas is pressuring him along the wall. He lost at least 10 battles along the boards throughout this game.
There are plenty of other guys that had really bad games, including our usual darling Ryan O’Reilly. It just seemed like Perron had so little heart during the moments he needed it most and yet they kept throwing him out there.
I understand the options to make changes and limit someone’s time are diminished during a game, but the fact St. Louis kept throwing him out there with the best lines is almost insulting.
I do not even know how to wrap this game up. St. Louis just felt so bad, regardless of the close nature of the score.
Fans that are glass half full will point to the fact that the Blues only lost by one and easily could have tied it up on that Oskar Sundqvist chance late in the game. That’s fool’s gold.
This game would have and should have been out of reach if not for Binnington. The Blues handed the puck to Dallas so often you would think the Blues thought they were wearing white.
Even when St. Louis was only down by a goal you hand it right to the opponent. Carl Gunnarsson literally passed the puck from the corner right to a Stars player on the left circle. How can you not see an opposition player right there?
So many of the Blues best players were their worst players. You make the change on the power play to include Dunn due to his offensive skill and he can’t even hold the zone, even if you ignore the breakaways given up.
O’Reilly was bad in the circle again, even though he won 52% of his draws. It just felt like they could not win an important one.
You had plenty of bad luck in this game too. The game winning goal for the Stars deflected in off a Blues defenseman. Of course fans will jump all over Jay Bouwmeester just because of the name, but that’s just fortunate for the Stars.
As a fan, I will always hope for the best. All you need is one good performance in Game 6 and the series is coming back to St. Louis.
That said, this feels like the end. The Blues have had two awful games in a row. They have been in both of them on the scoreboard, but not in the way the game has actually been played.
We will see how things play out. It certainly does not look good for the Note, even for the most optimistic, unless we get a complete 180.