The St. Louis Blues were trying to sweep a two-game series for the second time in a row. The Arizona Coyotes had little interest in letting that happen.
Similarly to the previous game, the Coyotes came out on fire. By the midway point of the first period, the Blues were being outshot 11-2 and the Blues two shots were not really even chance.
Counter to that, Arizona was peppering Jordan Binnington with chances and forcing several top notch saves. The Blues goaltender kept the team in the game until almost halfway through the first, when the Coyotes finally connected on a one-timer in the slot for a 1-0 lead.
St. Louis failed to connect on a power play shortly after that goal. The Blues offense was basically non-existent.
Arizona doubled their lead late in the period. After another great save by Binnington, nobody was able to clear the puck away from the post and the Coyotes jammed it in to make it 2-0 with just over two minutes left.
Then, the Blues just kept the straight-legged play in their own zone. Binnington made another great save only to see the rebound put home because there was not a Blues defender within six feet of the net.
St. Louis just looked like they had nothing in the tank. The effort was half-hearted and they simply could not keep up. There was a lot of reaching and standing going on.
Mike Hoffman scored a late goal, smashing one in from the point with Binnington pulled. Unfortunately, the comeback attempt was short lived as Arizona got an empty net goal not long after to make it 4-1.
Credit to St. Louis though. With 1:09 left, Ryan O’Reilly scored to make it 4-2, proving they don’t totally quit even when they don’t have it.
The Blues gave fans hope as Hoffman scored his second with 24 seconds left. It was not to be with St. Louis losing 4-3.
For the second game in a row, the Blues best player was probably Jordan Binnington. The only reason this game was ever close at all was Binnington.
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In the first period, he made a dazzling diving save. Stretching out with his stick, blocker and glove, Binnington managed to keep a sure goal out.
After that, he connected on a series of glove saves, further frustrating the Coyotes.
From a goaltending standpoint, what was frustrating was the fact Binnington made the initial save on two of the three Coyotes goals. He just got no help on the rebounds.
We have almost all played sports at some point in our lives. We all go through days, even in normal life, where we just don’t have the energy.
No matter what you do, you just can’t snap out of the funk. The Blues were that way in this game.
The worrying thing is that this seems to happen in the second game of every two-game series. The Blues have good athletes, so they simply cannot be this gassed every other game.
It makes no sense. You have an old-school coach that should be able to get the guys fired up and focused.
You have a team made up of young players or players in their prime. The only “older” veterans are either in a bottom six role or on the third defensive pairing.
Yet, we saw what we saw. The entire team, except for a player or two on a shift or two, had no energy at all.
You saw guys gliding around with straight legs. The passes were weak and off target and the shots had no power behind them at all.
The Blues were falling all over the ice, but the Coyotes were not. This indicates the legs just are not there for some reason.
Pros: Final four minutes
The Blues outplayed the Coyotes for four minutes of this game, but it was the final four minutes and St. Louis was already down 3-0 at that point. Still, you have to admire the fire in this team.
Many teams in the league would accept their fate and just fade into the night. Whether the Blues thought they’d be playing Colorado or knew it was two more against the Coyotes, they could have just packed it up and said we’ll get the next one.
Instead, they found a little spark. Hoffman showed his shot power with a drive from the top of the zone. It was a seeing-eye shot that found it’s way through a maze of bodies and into the net.
Then, O’Reilly scored on a nice turnaround and fired it off the goalie’s shoulder. Hoffman’s second goal was even nicer, scoring on a cross-ice pass with little net to shoot at.
Ultimately, this late push makes you wonder where all that was the entire game. Even if you extend that effort into just 20 minutes, the Blues might actually win.
I also question keeping the goaltender pulled when the game was 3-1, but that’s personal preference. There was still over 3 minutes left and the Blues should have relied on their five-on-five play.
Give the guy a couple goals and people sing his praises, but he’s just not getting it done for the Blues. He is weak on the puck, makes terrible passing decisions and has poor positioning. He was on the ice for two of the goals against and was somewhat responsible for each too (not solely, but partially.
It was not just Dunn though. Until that late push, Binnington was the only guy playing. If you want to be generous, you could say Justin Faulk was doing pretty good too, but that’s about it.
The worrying thing is that this applies to the entire team. Every poor game seems like it is the entire team. It’s hard to have someone step up and lead when all 18 skaters are not playing well. Usually, you have a line or two that is off, but this is an entire team other than the goaltender.
Hopefully the Blues figure something out for Saturday’s game. Arizona seems to play far above their pay grade against St. Louis and the Blues have to counteract that.