The St. Louis Blues returned to Anaheim to replay their postponed game. While hockey should have been the main focus, it was difficult.
The St. Louis Blues faced the Anaheim Ducks in a replay of their postponed game from around a month ago when Jay Bouwmeester had a cardiac episode. That was just one of a few things that made this night odd.
On a night when we were hoping to be able to focus on hockey alone, it became difficult. The NBA suspended their season after finding out one of their players had a preliminary positive test for coronavirus.
The NHL released a statement saying they would have further discussions and a larger statement one day afterward, sparking discussion that the league would likely follow suit to the NBA. It would make sense since there are several NHL teams that share arenas with NBA teams.
Also, while there is no verifiable proof, it seems likely the Blues were a bit shellshocked returning to the building where such a potentially dangerous event occurred. To their credit, they shrugged it all off.
The Ducks came out and grabbed the game initially. St. Louis relinquished eight of the first nine shots of the game and relied heavily on their goaltender to bail them out.
Once they got their wits about them, they came alive. The Blues went on an 11-0 run with shots and actually looked like a real power play on their first two first period power plays, eventually scoring on the second when Alex Pietrangelo unleashed a ripper that banked off the post and in.
Oddly enough, the second period went by a similar script. The Blues were quite poor in the first portion of the second period, allowing the Ducks to come out with energy and take it to them.
Anaheim would get the tying goal on a squeaker that Jake Allen likely should have had. Similarly to Pietrangelo’s goal, the Ducks took a shot from straight away and it slipped just through the elbow area.
Thankfully, that seemed to wake the Blues back up. They reignighted their offense.
They regained the lead late in the period on what amounted to a power play, but would not go down as one. With a delayed penalty called, St. Louis used some beneficial officiating (many refs would have blown that play dead once it even glanced off a Ducks’ stick). They controlled the puck for around a full minute and then Zach Sanford was able to score to make it 2-1 for the night and 3-2 overall.
The third period went back and forth with both teams getting their shots. The main difference was the Blues were getting shots, but the Ducks were creating chances. Allen had to make some big saves while his counterpart was not tested too much.
The Blues were pushed back onto their heels throughout, but held on. To add sugar to the lollipop, they actually got an empty net goal from their captain to get a 4-2 win.
Cons: First half of the first period
The Blues are notorious slow starters, so perhaps the start to this game should have been expected. However, this start was particularly troubling after the Blues had looked so out of energy against Florida.
The Blues were again making poor decisions and the legs did not seem to be there. It did not help matters that the Ducks were coming off a hot game and carried that over.
Anaheim had eight of the first nine shots on goal between both teams. They were decent chances too that forced Jake Allen into some quality saves.
Snake didn’t have to stand on his head, but he was still busy. Allen was sharp, staying on his edges and going back and forth. Allen even frustrated former teammate David Backes on an early one-timer from the high slot.
Still, the lapse defending was worrying.
Pros: Second half of the first period
As poor as the Blues were to start the first period, they were as good or better after that. They had almost two minutes of zone time uninterrupted, save for a chip to center.
Then, the power plays came and for once that actually energized the team instead of being so inept that it gave the other team momentum. St. Louis actually could have scored more than the one goal they got if not for some good saves by Anthony Stolarz.
The fact they actually scored on the power play was just icing to a cake that was already rising just perfectly.
The only two negative things about the Blues once they took over offensively in that period was they passed too much and the forwards still did not have a goal.
Nevertheless, the power play was solid. They were decisive with their passes and kept the Anaheim defenders quite compact, which actually gives them space to work offensively. What a novel idea.
Pros: Allen and Petro
It seems a shame to lump these two together, but time is a precious commodity when it comes to these late west coast games. So, the captain and the Snake have to share a space, which they are somewhat used to.
Allen was great from start to finish, with that small blip in the middle. Even as a staunch Allen defender, I have to say he probably should have stopped the goal that did sneak in for the Ducks.
Nevertheless, Allen faced a lot of tough shots. While the Blues outshot their opponent by 10 shots, the Ducks created the better of the chances. Allen was on his toes and sharp for almost the entire way.
His only other mistake was passing it right to a Ducks player late in the game, but his defenders backed him up and quickly cleared it. Other than that, Allen was on point and is only three wins from tying the Blues all-time lead. Whether he has a chance to get there or not is anyone’s guess and that has nothing to do with the virus issue.
On top of the goaltending, the Blues got a great performance from their top defenseman. Alex Pietrangelo scored two goals and set a new career best with his 16th goal of the season.
Petro is only two points away from his career best as well. The captain was an offensive powerhouse, leading the team with five shots on goal while doing a decent job defending as well.
Your best players need to be at their best at this time of year and Pietrangelo showed up at the right time.
With all the news swirling around from other leagues and other sports, it was nice to get a win and keep pace with the Colorado Avalanche to stay up in the standings. However, the unfortunate part is this could very well be the last game we get to see for some time.
The NBA suspended it’s season with no clear time or reason when it might resume. Though empty arenas are the likeliest course of action if games are played, it becomes hard to imagine the NHL continuing to play when other sports and venues are not having games at all.
Time will tell on that. For now, we got all we could ask for.
Allen got another win and whether you like him or not, he was a big reason why the team won. The Blues finally got a forward to score a goal, their first in almost 9 periods of hockey.
Their captain was a leader on the ice, in more ways than one. Also, even if it did not enter into their minds at all, the players got a win in the building where they lost Jay Bouwmeester and that is a nice way to wrap up that part of that story as well.
Hopefully we have more hockey to discuss in the coming days and weeks. For now, at least the Blues got a win heading into uncertain times.