The St. Louis Blues are in the home stretch for the virtual regular season. A final home game against a former rival was the last pothole before two rather large speed bumps to come
The St. Louis Blues against the Detroit Red Wings used to be one of the fiercest rivalries the Blues ever had. Red Wings fans will probably look more toward Colorado as their main rival in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but the Blues and Wings still had some great battles.
The thing that made that rivalry slightly more heated than Blues against Blackhawks was that both teams were good at the same time. Detroit was almost always slightly better, except for a couple teams around 2000, but both were good. Chicago and St. Louis always seemed to be heading in opposite directions until the mid 2010’s.
Unfortunately, Detroit wanted to be in the Eastern Conference when the league shifted. That, along with the Red Wings decline, has taken plenty of spice out of this matchup in recent times. Nevertheless, that winged wheel still touches a nerve at times.
Both teams had an early chance on net, but the goalies were sharp. However, Detroit took an early penalty that put the hot and cold Blues pwoer play on the ice.
The Blues kept their foot on the gas, scoring barely a minute later. Robert Thomas picked the pocket of a defender behind the net and while Bernier was reacting to the initial pass, he did not have time to get over to the near post before Thomas made it 2-0.
About four minutes after the second goal, Ryan O’Reilly got into the action. Utilizing his suddenly lethal slap shot, O’Reilly beat the goalie glove side from the top of the slot to make it 3-0.
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Bernier made some key saves late in the first period to keep his team in it a bit, but the Blues kept putting pucks on net until the horn sounded. However, somehow Detroit managed to get on the board with just 0.7 seconds left after an odd man rush was able to generate a shot to deny Binnington the shutout.
The second period kind of swung like a pendulum. The Blues would get a few shots and then Detroit would answer and so on.
St. Louis came up empty on their second power play of the game. Immediately after, Binnington had to make a big save on Dylan Larkin after Carl Gunnarsson stepped up and lost a puck battle in the neutral zone. All in all, the score remained the same after 40 minutes.
St. Louis got the first couple chances in the third, but Bernier had gotten in a groove. Midway through the third, the Blues took their first penalty of the game but managed to kill it off.
Not long after that, O’Reilly got his second of the game. From the left wing, he went heel to toe on his stick and banked it up off the goalie’s shoulder and it managed to fall in behind Bernier.
Detroit scored on a rebound with 45 seconds left, but it was too little too late. The Blues would win by three in the end as Perron got an empty net goal to make the score 5-2.
Cons: Lack of details
If I’m honest, there really was not much to complain about in this game. The goals given up, plus one other mistake were really the only main detractions from the game overall.
On the first goal, it was poor timing. The Blues had just 8 seconds left, so all they needed to do was tie up the faceoff. Instead, in that short amount of time, they let the Red Wings drive down the ice and score with under a second to go. St. Louis still had a two-goal lead, but the Red Wings had gained momentum.
If not for Binnington, that momentum could have become unstoppable. The mistake Gunnarsson made was almost very costly. You want your defensemen to be agressive, but it was a poor choice because it was 50/50 at best and probably not even that high.
Last, but not least, the Blues just kind of took their eye off the ball at the very end there. Yes, there was under a minute to go when Detroit scored, but the goal was a result of a larger problem. Detroit had been passing the puck around as though they pulled the goaltender, but that was not the case until after the Red Wings scored their second goal.
It’s fine to have those minor details missed in these types of games. However, you cannot afford that against better teams.
Pros: Ryan O’Reilly
Ryan O’Reilly, as well as David Perron, had a fantastic game. However, beyond just the goals, O’Reilly was just a shade better.
Where in the world this slap shot has come from out of O’Reilly is beyond me. Other than a few times here or there, we have not seen him unleash a slapper much but now he’s had three-straight goals from one.
After that, he still showed some solid power. His second goal was mainly due to the puck still having so much momentum after hitting the goalie’s shoulder.
O’Reilly was quite good in the faceoff circle, as usual. He was also good defensively, knocking some passes away as the Red Wings tried to go wing to wing.
Overall, this was a good game for many of the guys at the top. You want your best players to be your best players and they were in this game.
Robert Thomas had another good game. Perron had two goals of his own. Jaden Schwartz was solid as well, though not getting a goal, he did add some assists.
Binnington was solid again. He was not tested often, but he had to make some big saves at key times.
There was nothing overly fantastical about this game. It was the kind of win you expect against a team that only had 39 points when the league went idle.
That’s right, you did not read that wrong. Detroit has a mere 39 points.
But, for the Blues, it was business as usual. Now, the real test comes as it’s a rematch with the Boston Bruins and then a final road game at Colorado to end the regular season.