The St. Louis Blues opened up the 2021 season against a rival. The game lived up to its billing.
The St. Louis opened the 2021 season against the Colorado Avalanche. The league was hoping this would turn into a rivalry and, based on the first game of the season, it’s looking like it’ll turn into just that.
Considering the high altitude, coupled with it being the first game of the season, both teams came out with plenty pep in their step. You might worry that either side could use up all their gas too early, but they were getting things done.
The Blues looked a tiny bit shaky in the first minute or so, but were grabbing hold of the game offensively with seven quick shots on goal. Unfortunately, they were undisciplined early too.
A quick Colorado power play led to an even quicker goal. Just seconds into the man advantage, the Avs hit the backdoor and snapped one past Jordan Binnington, who stood little chance of making the save.
Thankfully, the Blues got right back at it. They kept up the offense and were hitting some really nice passes.
The Blues went tic-tac-toe twice in a row, getting a 2-1 lead after the first period. The goals showcased the team’s talent, but also its depth. We also got to see two of the key young players highlighted that so many of us want to shine this year.
It was a very solid first period to start the season. The Blues dominated, outside of a couple boneheaded penalties and a few turnovers.
The second period was a little looser. The Blues kept going into the box, with a duo of questionable penalties called against Robert Bortuzzo.
Fortunately, the Blues managed to kill off those penalties in the middle frame. Nevertheless, they got a little sloppy.
The Avalanche started gaining some momentum. The Blues escaped with a scoreless period, but felt lucky to do so, even though they missed a couple offensive opportunities too.
Cons: Early penalties
This game proved that the Blues are as good as just about any team when things stay five-on-five. The problem, at least early in this game, was the Blues didn’t seem to want to stay at even strength.
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Barely one minute into the game, the Blues already put themselves down by a man. It was a very weak call against Marco Scandella, but you can’t get your stick caught in someone’s midsection. Colorado scored almost immediately.
It looked like it was going to be a long night when Sammy Blais took a penalty just minutes after the Blues killed off the first. The call was questionable in terms of calling it elbowing since there was no chicken-wing motion, but it was a shoulder to the head.
The Blues were able to kill that one off. Then, the second period came around and that was even more fun.
The calls continued to be quite weak, but you’re going to get that in the start of a season. Bortuzzo was called for covering the puck, though the replay showed it was barely for a second while he was off balance. He then took another one when he spun a guy around and was called for holding.
While I do not agree with the majority of the penalties handed out, the Blues need to realize the situation. You want to play physical against a skill team, but you cannot give them that many power play opportunities either and, sadly, have to adjust to the officiating
Pros: Fantastic first period goals
More often than not, you don’t want the Blues trying to make pretty plays. They have skill, but they’re a meat and potatoes team, built on work ethic.
Taking direct shots and crashing the net for rebounds is their best game plan. However, it’s hard to argue with the results we saw in the first period.
The Blues got two of the best goals you might see all season. The first goal of the 2021 season for the Blues went to Oskar Sundqvist.
Sunny might not be the first name out of people’s mouths when they were picking goal scorers, but when you see how it was set up, you get it. Robert Thomas displayed fantastic vision at the blue line and then a nice pass from Jaden Schwartz set up Sundqvist on the doorstep.
The second goal was even prettier. After a nice keep in by Marco Scandella, the Blues threaded the passes like an expert seamstress putting the tiniest thread through the smallest needle eye.
Just when you thought Tyler Bozak had lost his balance, he tapped the pass right back across the slot to Jordan Kyrou. Kyrou proved how much he had earned his spot by burying the goal, which proved to be the game winner.
Pros: Binnington when needed
Jordan Binnington was not tested often in this game, which is a testament to how well the Blues defense played. Yet, Binnington did exactly what you want your goaltender to do.
You want him to make all the saves he’s supposed to and, maybe, stop a couple you don’t expect. That’s what we saw from Binner in this game.
Unless the puck hit him, or unless he made some unbelievable stop, he had almost no chance to save the one goal that got by him. But, when the team needed him most, he came up big.
As well as St. Louis played overall, they were loose and weak in the second period. Binnington bailed them out big time with the save shown above.
If Binnington does not make that save, the Blues end up with a tie game and then it’s anyone’s to take. Instead, the Blues manage to keep their one-goal lead after 40 minutes and reestablish themselves in the third.
Pros: Oskar Sundqvist
Sundqvist really showed well during the 2020 playoffs. He continued to show Blues fans that he was a quality pick up during much of 2019-20.
But, overall, it seemed like he was still meant to be on the fourth line. That is likely where he’ll still up when the team is completely healthy and Mike Hoffman gets his visa issues sorted out.
Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that Sundqvist has the talent and can gel enough with guys on the upper lines that he fits in nicely. He had a big night in this game.
Sundqvist did it all. Of course, we all will focus on his two goals and rightly so.
Sundqvist also led the Blues in blocked shots, with four, and hits, with three. He did all that while playing on the team’s second line. He was scheduled to be on the fourth line, but got moved up as late as the pregame skate when the Blues found out Hoffman would be unavailable.
He quickly switched his mindset and upped his game, helping the team to their first win of the year.
It’s one game into a season, so we cannot overreact. Things could turn on their head in the very next game, as the Avs look for revenge on Friday.
However, it’s hard not to be excited. Except for some silly penalties and a rather poor looking power play on their first man advantage, the Blues looked incredibly dynamic.
They don’t have that blazing speed, but they look a lot smoother and quicker than even their championship team. They will need to cut down on the poor passes, but they’re going to be incredibly dangerous when they connect on those passes.
The Blues were defensively sound. They limited a high-powered Avalanche offense to single-digit shots in the first and third period. The only time Colorado got more shots was the second and that’s when Binnington was at his best.
You could also make an argument that all the team’s scoring came from the bottom six. Sundqvist was playing on the second line, but he’s typically going to be a fourth line player and Kyrou was on the third line. Kyle Clifford rounded it all out, scoring on the actual fourth line.
Once the big guns get their offensive game going, this team will be really hard to defend. When you don’t have to depend on them, that’s the mark of a deep team.
Again, this is just a one game and we should not blow it out of proportion. But, if the Blues can play like they did in this game on a consistent basis, they are going to be battling for the top divisional spot all season long.