The St. Louis Blues have not been known for hot starts over the last few years, including their Stanley Cup season. That changed, at least for one night, against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Blues scored their first goal just 20 seconds into the game. St. Louis capitalized on a turnover and Jordan Kyrou stuck it in.
The Blues doubled their lead 37 seconds later. The goals kept flying in after.
Kyrou scored his second of the game at 2:06. It came off a breakaway where he just sniped it over the left pad of the goaltender and Josh Gibson was out of the net after only a handful of shots against.
The Blues took another too many men penalty, but managed to kill it off. Kyrou was close to his first NHL hat trick late in the first period, but Ryan Miller stoned him on the door step.
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St. Louis got sloppy in the late portions of the period. They failed to clear the puck and Anaheim scored after being allowed to jam at the puck three or four times.
Vince Dunn continued his questionable run of play by failing to clear a puck and then taking a high sticking penalty. Luckily, the Blues killed that off.
The second period was slightly odd. The Blues generated a ton of good chances, but couldn’t finish several odd-man rushes or scramble plays.
The Blues were a little loose and careless with the puck, but closed down the defensive gaps to not allow many chances against. Then, David Perron scored almost midway through, putting the Blues up 4-1.
St. Louis took their foot off the gas again though. While no goals were surrendered, they went from badly outshooting the Ducks to barely outshooting them by allowing the Ducks to have late-period offensive chances.
The Blues added more goals in the third. Kyle Clifford continued to outskate expectations by scoring his second of the year on a beautiful wrister.
St. Louis made it 6-1 with a Dunn power play goal. That would be the final as the Blues saw the result out.
Pros: Jordan Kyrou
There is every possibility that this is just a brief flash and Kyrou will eventually cool off. Thus far, and definitely with his start in this game, we have no reason to think that is the case.
Some times you can tell when a player is just hot and punching above their weight. Kyrou seems like he has not yet hit his full potential and he already looks about as comfortable being a true NHL goal scorer.
The first goal was a bit of luck in terms of where that puck bounced to. It’s pure skill to fire that shot with precision though.
The second one was even better.
Kyrou just broke through the defense and eyed up the net. He didn’t waste effort or time with silly moves that might or might not work. He picked his spot and fired it in.
Cons: Vince Dunn
Despite several articles to the contrary, I don’t hate Vince Dunn. I want the guy to succeed since you can see talent in there.
The problem is he doesn’t seem to learn. The Blues were 100% right to bench him after a poor showing against the LA Kings and prior to that.
There was little issue with putting him back into the lineup, but St. Louis went back to their old habits and so did Dunn. There was absolutely no reason to reward him with power play time after a benching, but they did and the unit was abysmal.
Dunn can’t be given all the blame for taking a penalty when he got whacked by Ryan Getzlaf, but he failed to get the puck out of the zone prior to that on a typical Dunn mistake.
He managed to get a power play goal in the third, so perhaps that will boost his confidence. He still seems lost, overall, though.
Brayden Schenn gets a little overlooked because other guys have been flashier or just stand out a little more. Nobody has played better.
Schenn has, in fact, been the hottest Blues forward since the start of the season. He now has four goals and eight points in his last six games.
These have not been junk points either. His effort and determination has set up important goals.
He got an assist on both Kyrou goals. While Kyrou deservedly gets attention for his skill, it’s Schenn’s work away from the puck that allows a lot of that to happen.
Cons: Late periods
It’s human nature to become complacent. The Blues are no different, despite fans wanting them to be.
The worrying thing is the fact the Blues did it in all three periods. You don’t have to kill yourself and go balls to the wall for 60 minutes when you’re got a team down, but don’t start heading to the locker room early either.
In each of the three periods, the Blues took silly penalties, potentially giving their opponents momentum. They also allowed shots against after keeping the Ducks off the board for so long.
In the first period, the Blues did not allow a shot until almost halfway through. At the end of 20 minutes, they came close to getting outshot for the period.
The same was true for the second. The Blues only allowed two shots against through most of the second period and then gave up eight in quick succession.
It’s a nitpick thing when the team wins by multiple goals. Still, you don’t want them thinking they can just turn things on or off simply because they’re playing a lesser team.
This was a good, overall effort by the Blues. It was not perfect by any means, but how much can we really complain about the result?
There were small things to be irritated at. The power play is still mediocre at best.
The coaching staff gave too much trust to Dunn immediately after being benched and he did little to deserve it. They also “punished” Justin Faulk by putting him with three different defensemen. I’m not sure how he can gain chemistry when you’re switching his linemate that much.
Jordan Binnington was great, but it was odd. He made spectacular saves, but there were plays it felt like he gave up on (which would be two games in a row) that managed to stay out of the net.
Offensively, the Blues were steady. They easily could have had 10 goals if they connected on all the chances they should have, but six goals is more than enough as long as you play well on the other end and they did.
They’ve won an even numbered game now, even if solely due to circumstance. Now, they need to break the streak and win the second of a two-game series.