St. Louis Blues: The Blues Vs The Flames Report Card

The St. Louis Blues 13-4-5 hosted the flickering Calgary Flames 10-11-3 who were on a 5 game losing streak. The Blues fresh off a 3-1 win in regulation against Tampa Bay looked to build some momentum in the win department.

The St. Louis Blues wore their throwback jerseys for the first time of three games this season and was it fun! I felt like a child again watching the guys fly around the ice last night! At times I didn’t know I was watching the 2019-20 Blues!

The St. Louis Blues played well. The new line shuffles by Craig Berube are firing on all cylinders for the forward groups. Although the “Sasky Line” didn’t get on the board they were creating grade-A scoring chance after grade-A scoring chance.

The only thing I could say that the Flames had going for them this night was that their goaltender David Rittich had the Sasky line’s number all night. Aside from that, he didn’t know how to solve the others.

The Sasky line consisting of Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak on the wings centered by Brayden Schenn was a high danger scoring chance machine last night.

They didn’t get on the board in this one but “Holy Jumpin'” as Darren Pang would say, were they good. As good as they were, they were still second fiddle to the new third line of Robert Thomas, Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sanford.

That third line was stellar in this game. Even better than they were in the Tampa Bay game. Robert Thomas looked like Wayne Gretzky out there in the throwback sweater setting up Oskar Sundqvist doing his best Brett Hull interpretation.

Zach Sanford had a monster game and was playing like Brendan Shanahan on the wing. Pick a player from that brief era that the Blues sported those jerseys and there was a modern-day player out there generating flashes of memories of the players that wore them before.

Sanford opened the scoring on a beautiful setup from Robert Thomas giving the St. Louis Blues a 1-0 lead. Sanford would continue to get on the score sheet with three assists and earning the first star of the game.

Thomas had three assists of his own and Oskar Sundqvist finished with two goals and nearly had a hat trick. This line was dominant against the Flames.

Let’s put it this way. In a game where Jordan Binnington posts a 40 save shutout, it was good enough for only the third star of the game! 99.9% of the time when a goalie posts a shutout especially one that required 40 saves it is an automatic first star of the game!

Well despite Curtis Joseph‘s I mean Binnington’s shutout Sanford and Sundqvist nabbed the one and two stars of the game from Binnington.

The power play would get on the board as well with a one-time snipe from David Perron from Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo. Then Vince Dunn, who has been on the cusp of an offensive breakout of his own sniped a wrister in the third from none other than Wayne Gretzky I mean Thomas and Brendan Shanahan dang it! I meant Sundqvist.

There wasn’t too much not to like in 5-0 win, but even in this game, there are some areas the Blues will want to button up. Let’s get to the grades!

Offense- A

The current lines are flying and more importantly burying the puck. There has been an emphasis on getting the puck on net recently as the Blues were killing their own offensive zone pressures missing the net a lot prior to the Tampa game.

It still happened in the Tampa game, but it had improved compared to games prior and in this one it improved a few degrees more. I left this game not thinking about how many times we missed the net and killed our offensive zone time.

The offense was generating and more importantly, they were putting those opportunities on net. Even more important they were making those chances count as well. The shuffling of the lines right now is playing dynamic hockey and it’s a reason for me to exhale for a bit and enjoy it.

Any time an offense scores 5 goals it’s a good night! We won the faceoff battles. We won the turnover battle. We won the takeaway battle. The only stat we didn’t win in this game was the shots on goal, but in a game where you have a Flames team struggling for offense they are going to put all the rubber they can on net.

The Blues may have been outshot in the game, but the high danger scoring chances in the game went to the Blues. The Flames had some of their own high danger chances still, but unlike Rittich, Binnington had the answers to them.

Defense- B

What? A B grade? In a shutout!? Yes everyone and here is why. The defense did a good job, but just a good job. We were outshot in the first and second periods. 16-13 and 17-11. That’s going to happen but as Berube and Sundqvist both said in their post-game interviews we need to tighten up more in the defensive zone in the first couple of periods.

They played well but failed at times to get into the shooting lanes leading to some shots on goal. It wasn’t as dominant a defensive game as they had played against Tampa when they limited them to just 18 shots on goal.

Dunn laid a THUNDEROUS open-ice hit on Andrew Mangiapane that led to a bit of a melee. Mangiapane left the game. It was a great hit and unfortunate that Mangiapane couldn’t return and we hope that he is alright.

Goaltending- A

Binnington. Need I say more? He’s legit. Period. Done. Over. 35-8-5, 2.01 GAA and a .926 save percentage and 6 shutouts in his brief NHL career. Let’s move on.

Special Teams- A

The Blues found themselves in penalty trouble for a stint there and it seemed like it was going to be just what Calgary needed to get back into the game, but the Flames’ Elias Lindholm killed their 5 on 3 chance tripping Ryan O’Reilly after the faceoff and that made the 4 on 3 penalty kill shorter and a bit easier than a 5 on 3.

The penalty kill stood strong and was it just me or did they seem more aggressive than in the kills past? The forwards were generating turnovers and breaks the other way. It’s something that other teams have been doing to the Blues recently and it was good to see us follow suit and do it to our opponent.

The power play converted on 1 of 2 tries and looked like a top 5 power play again. We are going to need that power play to keep winning games. Granted if the lines keep rolling like they are it won’t be as important, but I’m sure the lines will begin to balance out and return to the norm, but here’s hoping I’m dead wrong about that!

Coaching- A 

Kudos to Craig Berube for accepting and acknowledging that the old lines were stale and not generating. Even better he did something to the lines that had many fans scratching their heads, me included. I was a little concerned about that third line.

Well, it’s safe to say I’m not anymore. Hopefully, Sanford doesn’t just drift away into the land of forgotten players again and finally shows the will to remain consistent.

The past doesn’t suggest he will stay hot, but let’s hope that he has finally figured out what it takes to be an everyday NHL’er.

Great game and a really fun night at Enterprise Center! The Blues host the floundering Nashville Predators on Saturday night at 7 pm (CST). The Preds are going to be desperate, but like the Flames, they are struggling to get goals and they are giving up goals in bunches.

Let’s hope the Blues continue to be the hunters and the Predators stay the prey Saturday night.

Drop the puck!