The St. Louis Blues had one last opportunity to make things feel better for everyone outside that locker room going into the playoffs. Instead, it was another dull, lackluster performance.
Going into the St. Louis Blues final round-robin game against the Dallas Stars, the opponent seemed like the perfect adversary to draw out some of that nastiness you need in the playoffs. Instead, we basically got another exhibition game where the Blues just wanted to get out with no injuries.
At least they accomplished that, as far as we know. They did not accomplish much else.
The Blues offense was basically nonexistent again, even though they led 90% of the game. The defense was slightly better, but it was not as though the Stars were putting much into this game either.
St. Louis came out and struck early, which has not really been their problem. The Blues have scored the first goal in each of their three round-robin games. Holding that lead or adding to it was the team’s issue.
Robert Thomas would score with a nice snipe on a three-on-two less than four minutes into the game. Tyler Bozak made a nice play to draw the defender, let the pass go through his legs, which gave Thomas some space.
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The game settled into a lull, with both teams taking penalties. There was little flow at all because of all the special teams play.
St. Louis looked like they were going to bookend the first period with goals. With a little over three minutes to go in the first 20, Vince Dunn scored a goal. Unfortunately, Dallas challenged it for offside and there was no doubt that Jaden Schwartz was offside on the zone entry.
The Blues offense went into its little turtle shell for the second period, getting outshot 12-4. They took another three penalties in the second too.
Thankfully, Jake Allen was solid. It remained 1-0 after two.
In the third period, the Blues finally showed some composure. They stayed out of the box in that period and got a whopping six shots, which is better than four.
However, you could tell they were just trying to hold the lead instead of trying to grab the game. Dallas had 16 shots and dialed up the pressure, since they had not scored in almost two game’s worth of periods.
The Blues finally had a crack in the defense and let the Stars tie it with 31 seconds left. Needless to say there were some broken items out there in Blues fandom.
St. Louis had a little offense in overtime, actually outshooting Dallas 3-2. It did not lead to anything and the Blues do what they do in shootouts, which is lose.
Robert Thomas was one of the few bright spots in this game. He played over 15 minutes of ice time and was rewarded with a good amount of power play time.
Thomas’ power play unit was the only one that even resembled anything decent. That’s not saying much since the Blues power play was pretty putrid again, but it was not for lack of effort by number 18.
Thomas’ goal was a solid snipe too. We criticize him for not shooting enough, but he showed some elite shooting ability by going bar down for the 1-0 lead that almost held up the entire way.
You could argue that the Blues did not cost themselves anything since they killed off every Stars power play. You simply cannot take six penalties though.
That is six penalties in two periods too. If the Blues had not been more disciplined, who knows how many man-advantages Dallas might have had.
It should be noted that the Stars were not much better, taking five penalties. We are not worried about them though.
The bigger issue than just number of penalties is the kind. There are far too many that are just reaching penalties or penalties that don’t gain you anything.
If it was a penalty to deny a player a great scoring chance or maybe blowing a player up and the referee deciding it was too much, so be it. It was all just lazy or senseless stuff.
There were two interference calls, three slashing penalties and one for boarding. It’s obviously not something that can be accomplished or guys would do it, but for the love of Pete, just stop hitting guys on the hands with your stick. You know they’ll call it.
I don’t care if you have the greatest penalty kill of all time. Even if you kill every penalty against you, your offense has no time to gel and get into a flow.
The radio announcers were comparing Vladimir Tarasenko to a fourth line player due to his ice time since the Blues spent too much time on the penalty kill. You’re trying to get him in a grove and he barely played in the second period. He only got over three minutes of ice time in that period because of the Blues own power plays. That’s terrible for your star to have such little playing time.
Don’t come at me for this one. If you blame Jake Allen for anything in this game, it is your hangup and nothing else.
If not for the Snake, the Blues would have lost this game in regulation long before the third period came around. While the Stars were not spectacular offensively, they were at least threatening.
The Blues were better defensively, but still not great. They relied on goaltending for the third straight game and were rewarded by getting it, thankfully.
If Jake was not on his game in this one, it likely would have been a copy of the Vegas game, minus the Blues actually scoring.
Allen faced 38 shots and turned them all away except for one. The one that did get by him, he had no chance on because nobody in blue felt the need to get Jamie Benn out of Allen’s grill. Allen had no clue where the puck was because Benn was about two feet away from him.
Blame Allen for the shootout if you want, but that’s a crapshoot anyway. Nobody ever talks about how the Blues cannot score in shootouts. It’s always the goalie.
Any sane person would realize Allen was very good in this game and, just like they did for Jordan Binnington, the Blues gave him no scoring support.
Cons: No intensity
Very few fans honestly expected the Blues to be throwing their body around like they did against the Winnipeg Jets or the Boston Bruins in the 2019 playoffs. We expected them to play like they were preparing for the playoffs, not playing preseason games though.
Though it seems like it, I am not questioning the players’ integrity or grit. They have proven they are one of the toughest teams out there in the past.
But, it was disheartining to see them play as though it was just a warmup game. Maybe seeding did not matter to them, but the Blues were playing not get hurt.
After the second period, Joey Vitale was asked his thoughts on the game so far and he literally said it sucked. He pointed out some good things, like Allen and the penalty kill, but it was just going through the motions.
The Blues are saving it up, we all get it. We have just seen too many teams not be able to flip the switch.
Who would have thought that between the two Stanley Cup finalists from 2019, the two teams would combine for one point. Only the Blues managed to even get to overtime.
As a fan, I am doing my best to chalk this up to one more game to just get the legs going and not care about the result. It becomes difficult when the Blues were not as close to winning any of these games as the score would indicate.
Even if you wanted to argue that the Blues were close and had a chance in each game, they were hoping to defend too much like a Game 7. You cannot just absorb pressure all the time throughout the playoffs. Eventually you have to attack and we just did not see enough of that, with sustained control.
We will see how this translates into the playoffs. Maybe this is all nothing and the Blues come out strong.
My worry is that if the Blues continue to play like this, Vancouver will eliminate them round one.