The St. Louis Blues had not fared well in the second game of any series thus far in 2021. While they only had a loss and a shootout loss, it was still something the team needed remedy.
St. Louis was giving the first career NHL start to Ville Husso. While you need to protect a new goaltender, the worry was the Blues would focus too much on their efforts on defense.
Oddly enough, that proved to not be the case. St. Louis allowed a lot of shots against in the first period, but were holding up well enough to start.
For whatever reason, they just cannot look cohesive as a squad yet. They had flashes and glimpses, but nothing sustained.
They had several odd-man rushes and came up empty almost every time. Eventually they need to just shoot the puck.
With the Blues, nice things rarely last. They took another penalty, with another questionable call, and after a decent kill to start, the Kings snuck a puck over Husso’s left pad to tie it up.
Then, the defense fell apart as Vince Dunn got juked out of his skates and Los Angeles fired a shot over Husso’s blocker shoulder for the lead. The goal came less than 30 seconds afterward.
The officials continued to jam their heads up their rears right after that. Ryan O’Reilly tapped someone on their pants and that got a slashing call, giving LA a power play to start the second period. By the mercy from above, the Blues managed to kill that.
That was about it for positives in the second period for the Blues. St. Louis did not get their first shot on goal until around the halfway point.
Defensively, it was just a mess. Dunn continued to look foolish as his turnover was responsible for the third goal of the game. LA wasted little time in adding to that lead, forcing it to 4-1 with just over 11 minutes left in the period.
Craig Berube called a timeout, but that seemed to do nothing. The Blues just showed nothing at all.
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They got a late power play in the period and established zilch. In fact, after another boneheaded play by Dunn, the Kings sprang a breakaway and a 5-1 lead.
To their credit, the Blues came out and tried to reestablish some credibility in the third. The first few minutes went by without much going on, but eventually the offense came to life.
Schenn scored his second of the game to make it 5-2. Moments later, after some good pressure, O’Reilly scored his first of the year to make it 5-3.
The Blues offense was buzzing in the last five minutes, but their passing betrayed them and kept them from connecting on some good chances. It was too little, too late though as the Kings added an empty net goal for a 6-3 win.
Cons: The officiating
The idea of an official should be that a penalty is a penalty, regardless of who commits it. That’s normally true, but when it involves Ryan O’Reilly, that might need to be revisited.
In four of the six seasons he played prior to arriving in St. Louis, O’Reilly had single digit penalty minutes. The most penalty minutes he has ever had in a season was 18 and 16 and those were in his first two years in the league.
Needless to say, O’Reilly knows how to defend without really impeding an opponent. That is until 2021 apparently.
O’Reilly has been called for three minors in 2021 already, giving him six penalty minutes in six games. At this pace, he’ll have 82 penalty minutes.
Seriously though, the calls these guys are making are ridiculous. Fans understand wanting to free up the game and increase scoring, but some of the penalties are not even close to what should be a normal call.
Argue O’Reilly should not have reached out and made any contact with his stick if you will. Then there should be absolutely no contact with a stick by either side.
The Krug penalty was another iffy one. I get the call and the argument is that Krug changed his angle. The Kings player still grabbed Krug and kept chugging forward, so there’s not much he could do.
If we thought the passing was poor in the first game against the Kings, the Blues told someone to hold their beer. Somehow it got worse.
There’s just no positivity from the passing game, other than that Kyrou setup on the goal. Everything else is just bad.
St. Louis continually puts pucks too close to skates. This forces the target man to dig it out instead of head off to the races.
In a 45 second span, they passed 2 feet behind the intended target, passed to a man facing the wrong way at the blue line and then forced a dangerous cross-ice pass with 3 Kings players in the zone. The decision making is horrendous right now.
We’ve already covered the incidents with Dunn in the game recap, but he needs to be benched. It does not matter if it’s just six games in or if he joined the team late.
He is a detraction from what this team is trying to do and a hindrance to a winning effort. His defensive play is atrocious and, the part of his game that is supposed to be good, his offense is nonexistent.
This was a team loss because so few played poorly. However, if we are going to continually pick on Hoffman, then we need to pull the scab completely off with Dunn.
He’s doing nothing for the power play and causing goals with his turnovers or poor decisions on when to jump up ice. A game or two in the press box will do him good. It will do fan sanity good at the very least.
He has not been perfect, by any stretch, but you can rarely doubt the determination and will of Brayden Schenn. While the team has been awful in the second games of these two-game sets, he has been the only bright spot.
Though the Blues have lost all their even-numbered games, Schenn has still stood tall. He has three goals in those two games and, along with Jordan Kyrou, is the only real reason this team has points on the board and in the standings.
Oddly, he was not credited with any hits. Given the fact they kept putting Blues shots into the Kings shot total, I don’t buy that.
Regardless, he always keeps his motor going. As Lou Korac pointed out on Twitter, if the team had 20 of him, they’d never be doubted for how hard they play.
We can say it’s early and just six games in, but in a short season, that’s 10% of the season gone. St. Louis can technically say they’re above .500 with that extra OT point, but they’ve lost as many as they have won.
Something has to give. They have to find a way to win two blasted games in a row. Don’t shovel that nonsense about teams having extra scouting for the second game because so many teams win two games in a row in the playoffs.
If the Blues were actually beaten when playing a good game, it would be one thing. Give me the kind of effort we saw in the first game of the season and just have a hot offensive team find the rare seam in the defense and you could stomach it.
Yet, for every positive thing the Kings did (there were plenty), the Blues did at least two or more negative things that contributed to that. Frankly, the Kings should feel bad they did not win by more.
I don’t know if it’s a subconscious effort to maintain energy for later in the season, but you cannot come out so lax in these second games and hope to turn it on at the end. These are not the playoffs yet, but the Blues need to jab the knife into the brain as Doug Armstrong used to say.
The Kings are a better team than we thought coming in and they deserved this win. St. Louis simply did not do enough to challenge them for the points.
LA made it tough on the Blues in the first game. The Blues did not repay the favor.
31 shots does not tell how poor the offense was. 6-3 is much closer than the score really was too.
It definitely does not get any easier with two games in Vegas this coming week.