The St. Louis Blues have a lot of games against the Eastern Conference to end the 2019-20 season. Oddly enough, they had not played Florida until tonight.
The St. Louis don’t have a very long history against the Florida Panthers. That history is even shorter this season since this game was the first time they faced one another in 2019-20.
The game opened up with a good pace. The shots were coming with regularity on both sides, despite neither team playing poorly defensively.
The Panthers outshot the Blues 4-2 initially, but St. Louis answered back with seven of the next eight shots. They came close to scoring on a rebound from a Marco Scandella blast, but Alex Steen could only tap it between his legs and the goaltender was sprawled out to make a glove save on the ice.
The game slowed down a bit, but each team kept trading proverbial punches. However, when the Blues got a late-period power play, you thought good things might happen.
Instead, the awful Blues power play returned. St. Louis was careless with the puck and gave up two grade-A scoring chances against while Florida was shorthanded.
Then, just as the penalty ended, the Panthers got a breakaway. It seemed improbable that Florida did not score on that, but they did not.
Jordan Binnington with the SPLITS to make this save
— FanSided NHL (@FanSidedNHL) March 10, 2020
The second period was fairly ho-hum despite a slightly high number of shots overall. The Blues did not play poorly, but they did not play great either.
It was not until around 12 minutes into the period that the Blues finally broke the deadlock. Colton Parayko unleashed a bomb from just outside the right circle that went up high and made it 1-0.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 10, 2020
That did not last too long, however. The Blues took a mysterious penalty a few minutes later and the Panthers would score on the power play to tie it up.
The Blues continued to not get much done as the second ended and the third began. Early in the third period, St. Louis had surrendered almost 30 shots in total.
Florida took advantage of a lucky play. Vince Dunn knocked the goal onto Jordan Binnington’s head, stunned him for a moment and he could not recover to make a save on his right side. The Panthers took a 2-1 lead on that.
Offensively, the Blues were allowing the Panthers to get in front of too many shots and unable to control rebounds. The Blues lacked energy in this game and that is not a result of not wanting it. They appeared to be giving everything they had, but there was not enough in the tank.
The legs were heavy, the mind was clouded and there just weren’t enough breaks. Frankly, the Blues were fortunate the game stayed tied as long as it did.
Cons: Power play
The Blues power play had shown signs of being a real power play in recent weeks. They were getting some goals and even when they were not, they did a decent job of holding the zone, if nothing else.
However, the first power play of the game for St. Louis was about as bad as they have looked all season. They could barely cross the blue line and if/when they did, they looked about as confused about what to do with the puck as anyone could be.
The passes were to no one. There were not even shot opportunities because the Blues were scrambling the entire time, giving the puck away with odd, blind passes. David Perron continued to be a detriment for this team with lackluster play and weird decisions about where to put the puck.
St. Louis had an extra attacker. Yet, because of a turnover, Florida was allowed to break in on the wing, get a good scoring opportunity that was blocked by Alex Pietrangelo and then collect the rebound for another immediate chance.
How in the world does that happen? I get breakaways, because it is one bad pass and off to the races.
But allowing someone to follow up without backtracking to stop them? It was embarrassing and only because of goaltending did the first period end scoreless.
Colton Parayko continues to show his confidence offensively. He now has three goals in his last six games.
Earlier in the season, it seemed like Parayko had almost given up on the offensive side of the game. He appeared content to be part of the shutdown crew with Jay Bouwmeester.
However, as goals started going in, we started to see the giddyup in his stride and a willingness to unleash his shot again. It was the big boomer that struck here against the Panthers.
Parayko had three shots on goal and stayed stout defensively too. He blocked two shots and played on both sides of special teams.
Cons: Forwards’ “offense”
I rarely let this team use fatigue as an excuse, but you could see the energy leave the Blues’ bodies as the game went on. That said, the forwards were absent from the get go in this game.
The only player that had a seemingly decent game was Robert Thomas. Even he did not help matters though because when he was confident enough to shoot, he would shoot high. Thomas is going to be a special player, but all he seems to do is shoot over the goal when he actually does shoot.
Outside of him, all the forwards stunk. David Perron looks like he’s stuck in quicksand and his decision making is quite terrible lately. He can’t pass, his shots get blocked or he misses and he just looks slow.
Ryan O’Reilly battles like hell, but he just seems to get outmuscled all the time. There were several instances late in the game that he tried to win pucks, but he’d stumble and fall down and even if he had the puck, there was nothing he could do with it from there.
Nobody shoots the puck anymore either. If they do, it’s either blocked or they miss.
Meanwhile, four defensemen had three shots. Vince Dunn had two shots. Only Carl Gunnarsson failed to get more than one shot through.
Tiredness is one thing, but you still expect your big guys to lead you. It’s great to have offensive defensemen, but you cannot count on them to score the way you do with your forwards.
The Blues cannot expect Vladimir Tarasenko to be a magic pill either, so the other guys have to get the job done.
This is a really disappointing loss. Florida is battling for a playoff spot and they’re not as bad as Twitter would have you believe, but they’re not on the Blues level.
One of the irritating things is St. Louis let another no-name goaltender get the best of them. The Blues seem to excel at making backups look like Vezina goalies and also giving players their first NHL goal.
I have nothing personal against Chris Drieger. However, who the heck is he and how did the Blues let him beat them?
Florida deserves credit for playing well defensively. They blocked 23 shots and forced the Blues into low scoring areas. Even so, you’ve gotta beat that guy and make him look the level he is.
St. Louis has to get their top lines right. They’re not doing nothing, since guys like Brayden Schenn were scoring at will just a few games ago, but they just are not clicking as trios.
The power play was horrendous tonight. Why Berube refuses to put the second unit out there when they actually try to score is beyond anyone.
Hopefully the Blues can rebound in Anaheim. It is not as though the world is ending, but the Blues can’t hope that Colorado will lose too many games since they’re schedule is even easier than St. Louis’.