The St. Louis Blues came into their second round-robin game looking for more goals. They found those goals, but the rest of their game remains frustratingly elusive.
The St. Louis Blues were hoping to shrug off a disappointing loss to the Colorado Avalanche a few days ago. Thinking they had a point in hand, the Blues lost the game at the final buzzer and were looking for a rebound.
The Blues were looking to find more goals, having scored just one goal in two games following the return to play. That goal was a power play goal, so the Blues had no five-on-five goals.
St. Louis managed to find those goals. They scored four goals in one game and did so in efficient fashion.
Unfortunately, that was about the only positive from this game. All the things the Blues pride themselves on were absent.
For the second game in a row, the Blues managed to score first. Once again, after allowing their opponent the first few cracks on net, St. Louis got the goal with David Perron netting another score.
Also for the second game in a row, the Blues managed to hold that lead through the first period despite being outshot badly. The defense was doing an OK job, but still allowed 13 shots against in the first period and many of them were high quality.
Colton Parayko scored just 1:45 into the second period to make the lead 2-0. Sadly, the game devolved into a stereotypical Vegas/Blues game after that.
Every game the Blues and the Golden Knights have played recently had several lead changes and this game was no different. After having a 2-0 lead, the Blues surrendered three straight goals in the second period, two scored by Alex Tuch.
Not long after, the Blues would score two of their own to regain the lead going into the second intermission. If only games ended at 40 minutes.
The Blues just did not come out of the locker room. Vegas would score another three goals in the third period and the Blues just looked bewildered.
St. Louis had absolutely no offense. They only had one shot on goal in the period until they pulled their goaltender late in the third.
The final score was 6-4 and it was not even that close in the grand scope. The Blues were fortunate to score that many goals on so few shots and they were lucky Vegas did not score 10.
St. Louis has definitely not found their game as a team, but David Perron has found his. He now has two goals in two games.
The scoring winger looks dialed in. Like any of the Blues players, there are a handful of things he could clean up with his overall play, but he’s got an eye for the net.
That is something the Blues really need right now. He’s the only regular forward to score for the Blues so far, since Troy Brouwer has the only other forward goal and noly got some playing time as a fill-in.
Nevertheless, Perron is playing well.
It sounds strange to say about a team that just scored four goals, but the offense is nonexistent right now. Don’t try to sidestep it with talk about forechecks and more physical play or whatever. They are not looking like a team that will really threaten anyone at the moment.
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Over the last two games, three if you count the Chicago exhibition, the Blues barely get any shots on goal. We are constantly fed lines about the team looking for quality over quantity, but that needs to be thrown out the window.
Nobody is asking guys to just toss pucks at the net from the goal line or the boards by the point. 17 shots just is not going to cut it though.
The Colorado game was full of fool’s gold as well. St. Louis ended up with over 30 shots, but how much did they really test the goaltender?
How many times in this game did Marc-Andre Fleury have to make a save that kept a sure goal off the board? There might have been none. His counterpart had to make several.
Yes, the Blues are not a skill-based team. Their game is physical and the offense comes from everything else clicking.
They are not devoid of talent either. We saw them make the most out of their chances. You can’t just luck your way into four goals on 13 shots.
Something has to change though. Lines were altered, but that should not have this kind of impact to where the Blues are barely even in the offensive zone.
Another prime example of how this game made absolutely no sense was the Blues goaltender. If you allow six goals, most fans would say there was no way that person played a good game.
The truth is Jordan Binnington played a great game. He stole several goals away from Vegas in a game that the Blues could have easily surrendered 10.
Binnington was not only fighting the opponent, but his own teammates. The Blues fell back into the habit of screening their own goaltender.
On Vegas’ sixth goal, Vince Dunn was gliding right by Binnington’s field of vision just three feet in front of his goalie. It turned an easy save into a goal.
Regardless of that, Binnington gave the Blues every opportunity to win. When the Blues score four goals and play their kind of defense, this is an easy win with Binnington as sharp as he is. Instead, they have two losses, but not for lack of effort.
In the first period alone, Binnington made several scramble saves and looked to be swimming in his crease a lot.
Binnington made a fantastic stop on the doorstep in the first period against Chandler Stephenson. Later, he stoned Stephenson again on a cross-ice one-timer. In the third period, he kept the Blues in it with an unbelievable save on a breakaway when the Blues were on the power play.
He was rarely out of control and making the key stops. If only the rest of the team was at his level.
If you want to make the case the Blues are not going to waste energy on their high-intensity forecheck before the playoffs actually begin, fine. They could still play respectable defense. They did not.
In this game, some of the blame is on the coaches. Craig Berube randomly changed the defensive pairings, even though that’s one of the few things that needed no tweaking.
Justin Faulk did not do much, but at least he was not really involved in the goals against. He was a plus-2 and the one goal he was on the ice for went through his legs before it was tipped in.
Robert Bortuzzo actually had a good game as far as physicality and blocking shots. His time on the ice was not well spent statistically as he was a minus-2. Vince Dunn was a minus-3.
Half the problem was the defenders getting too close to their own goal. Whether on the PK or just even strength, it seemed like the Blues would crash their own net on every shot.
That’s fine in the last 10 minutes of a Stanley Cup Final when the goal is to weather the storm. You cannot play an entire game like that.
Colton Parayko was part of the defensive unit that had a lot of problems, but his game was still pretty solid. Like with all six defenders, there were moments he could have done this or that better.
Nevertheless, his offensive game was great. He played well enough that if you’re going to mix the defensive pairings anyway, move Parayko to forward.
On the first goal, Parayko drove all the way into the slot without the puck. He was rewarded with a slick pass from Brayden Schenn and tapped it just past the goaltender.
The second goal was just a great display of skill and patience. Parayko again drove the net, but this time with the puck and on the right wing.
He got Fleury to bite and slide out of position. Parayko used his long reach and stride to calmly circle the net for the wraparound goal.
Cons: Dumb penalties
You can blame the refs if you want. For the second game for the Blues and countless games during this restart, the refs did throw the arm in the air for some soft calls.
However, the Blues continue to put themselves in a spot where the refs can make the calls. You have to be smarter, especially at this time of year.
The Blues had a too-many-men penalty. I’ve never played the game as a skater, so maybe it’s more confusing than I think, but if you just wait to go on the ice until the player you’re replacing gets to the bench, you’d be fine.
For the second game in a row a penalty against Alex Steen cost the Blues a goal. Maybe the holding call was iffy, but it’s not a good look.
Zach Sanford argued a hooking call, but it was clearly a penalty. That led to a goal against.
Statistically, maybe killing three out of five penalties is good. The fact the Blues gave Vegas five chances on the power play was bad enough.
The refs do need to get up to speed on this being the playoffs, not the preseason. The Blues have to also adapt and get their skates moving.
At this point, it is hard to know what to think of the Blues. They manage to improve one aspect, but not the entire thing.
Defensively, this team just lacks energy or purpose. When the game was four-on-four, Vegas looked like they had a power play because the Blues just sat back and defended.
Offensively, there’s just nothing. The goals prove St. Louis can score against anyone, but you cannot score when you don’t have the puck.
They don’t list puck possession stats in the regular game sheet, but it felt like Vegas had the puck 60% of the time or more.
Other than some individual performances, the only good thing the Blues did was win faceoffs. Ryan O’Reilly had a percentage of below 50% against Vegas prior to this game, one of only two teams that can say that, but he won 87%.
The team won 70% of their draws. That is normally a precursor to success. Win the draw, set up the offense or get out of your zone quickly. It did not mean a thing in this game.
Seeding means little other than knowing who your opponent might be. However, you can’t go into the knockout rounds playing like garbage.
The Blues need to beat Dallas in the next game just to win a game.