St. Louis Blues Pros And Cons From Game 24 Vs. Nashville

The St. Louis Blues were coming off two of their bigger wins of the young season in their last two games. The bottom sort of fell out against the Nashville Predators.

The St. Louis Blues were riding high after their last two victories. After knocking off the Tampa Bay Lightning in a tight, defensive affair and then exploding with offense against the Calgary Flames, maybe the Blues thought things were going to be easy.

With the Nashville Predators struggling entering this game, maybe the Blues thought they were only what their record says they were. That was not the case.

Nashville came out hot and scored in less than a minute in the first period. The Predators did not take their foot off the gas, doubling their lead before the period was even halfway through.

The Blues did get a little bit of a foothold with Klim Kostin scoring his first ever goal. However, the good feelings did not last. The Predators restored their two goal lead before the first 20 minutes elapsed.

It was just a lot of sloppiness after that. St. Louis would have a good shift or two, but nothing that really pressed the Predators into mistakes or an uncomfortable situation.

The Blues made a game of it, scoring late on the power play with their goaltender pulled. However, the Blues continued to be sloppy and poor puck control allowed Nashville a 4-2 win with a late empty net goal.

Cons: The start

Whether we want to say the Blues were flat or the Predators were motivated, there is one thing that cannot be denied. This was one of the worst starts the Blues have had thus far in 2019-20.

The Blues allowed the Predators to score just 20 seconds into the first period. This is not where the effort seemed off. In fact, it was a seemingly innocuous shot from the right wing and an easy save for Jordan Binnington. Unfortunately, the puck exploded off the blocker and right to Filip Forsberg, who made short work of the one-time rebound.

If the first goal was just unlucky for the Blues, the second one was pure luck for the Preds. Nashville scored their second goal off a triple deflection. Not only is that pretty rare, but all three deflections were off Blues players. The shot was tipped by Jay Bouwmeester, went off the body of Justin Faulk and then deflected off Binnington’s stick and still had enough momentum to go in.

Beyond just the goals, the Blues just had nothing to offer. St. Louis got outshot 10-0 in the first few minutes. Halfway through the first period, St. Louis was being outshot 15-2. It was definitely not the start you would expect for what many consider a rivalry matchup.

Pros: Kostin’s first goal

It was bound to happen, but what a way for Kostin to get things rolling in the NHL. He has played some solid shifts, but yet to really have that complete game to this point, but what is the kid supposed to do with such limited ice time?

Well, he showed what he could do on this play. He did not quite go coast to coast, but it was darn close and he knew how to finish.

After Brayden Schenn cleared the puck from the corner, Kostin did the rest. He met some resistance at center, but shook that off with a little shoulder fake.

Kostin drove it into the zone with confidence, like a seasoned veteran. After he cut toward the left circle, Kostin let fly a fine snap shot. It might have nibbled off the stick of the defender, but it does not matter. You only get one first NHL goal, unless it gets called back for some reason, and this one was one to remember.

Cons: Giving momentum right back

Once the Blues scored, the game score was 2-1. You should get a big boost by cutting the lead in half and having a rookie score his first ever goal on such a great individual play. That was not quite the case with the Blues.

They did get a momentary boost from that goal. They put some good work into the offensive zone, but their first power play actually sucked all the life out of them.

The Blues only mustered one shot on goal on that power play and actually gave up a grade-A chance while the Predators were shorthanded. It was not a full player vs. the goalie breakaway, but it was still a clear shooting lane. The Blues only failed to give up their fifth shorthanded goal of the season because of Binnington’s quick glove.

Despite their goaltender’s heroics, the Blues continued to falter. The Predators kept up the pressure and scored a third goal not long after that penalty kill.

The goal was another lucky one. It only slid in because the momentum of his body pulled Binnington’s right pad off the ice, but it was still the tenacity of the Preds that forced the issue.

The problem was it sucked the life out of the team and the building. Instead of getting a power play goal that would even things up, the Blues actually lost any momentum gained and went back to a two goal deficit.

Pros: Binnington

It is not as though Binningon has not been a huge factor in the last handful of games he played in, but he was the ONLY reason this game was not a complete destruction of the scoreboard. Despite the Predators getting the win, this was the Binnington show.

This game might have been more impressive than the high number of saves against the Flames and a shutout. Binnington was tested far more often in this game and faced a lot more difficult chances against.

Binnington faced at least three breakaways, maybe four. Two of those breakout attempts came while the Blues were on the power play.

A good goaltender is always engaged, but you could not blame someone if they were caught a little unaware since most goalies don’t figure their team will allow a breakaway while your team is a man up. Each time, Binnington made a save more impressive than the last.

The first time, he snagged it with a glove save. The second time, somehow, Binnington managed to sweep the back leg closed after it looked like the puck would slip through the five-hole. The third, Binner had to make two saves, each one of big quality.

I just don’t understand what is going on with this defensive core right now. It is great that Binnington is calm under pressure, but I worry this will have a similar affect as a quarterback with a bad offensive line. You can absorb it for a time, but eventually you might get shell shocked. That is sort of what happened with Jake Allen. He was great to start his career and then hit a wall.

Regardless, this game could easily have been 6 or 7-1. Binnington is truly the only reason the score was kept reasonable.

Overview

Without being a homer, I do believe the Blues are one of the better teams in the NHL right now. However, for whatever reason, they refuse to take advantage if an opponent is on the second game of a back-to-back or coming in on a losing streak.

While it is purely anecdotal, it feels like guys always get their first goal of the season or in the NHL against the Blues. It feels like teams regularly end losing streaks against the Blues.

So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Blues allowed the Predators – winless in six games – to jump all over them. We can say these games just happen, but it is worrying the same things are happening time after time, win or lose.

The passing is just awful right now. While we see a few dangles and nice set ups, like Robert Thomas a game ago, the Blues are getting far too cute with things and that is not there game. At all.

One of the breakaways was due to a rinkwide pass with every player on the ice being within two yards of the blue line. In what world is that a good idea?

St. Louis continues to fall behind in games. It is great they have the will and determination to lead the league in come from behind victories, but you can’t rely on that for an entire season.

St. Louis regularly does not show up for the first five to 10 minutes of the game. We have said, tongue-in-cheek, they do better when that is the case since they were allowing the first goal when they had good starts, but cannot continually think you can just flip the switch.

The thing that stinks about this game was Nashville did not play all that well. They got some bounces that had not been going their way in previous games and the Blues could not string together a solid five minutes.

The Blues would have a good shift or two and then do something silly that would flush it all down the toilet.

This one was just frustrating overall. Alex Pietrangelo scored his 100th goal, Kostin got his first and Binnington played out of his mind. Even so, this was not nearly as close as the score would indicate.

St. Louis has an opportunity for revenge soon. They play the Predators in Nashville on November 25. Hopefully they have a better performance.