The St. Louis Blues played their one million and twenty seventh game against the Arizona Coyotes – ok, it was only the seventh game this season. It lacked a playoff atmosphere and you could tell these teams were just tired of seeing one another.
The first period was on lock down. Neither team really wanted to give an inch.
While each team got a decent number of shots on goal, there were not any grade-A chances on either side. Much of the game just kind of flowed back and forth without any big push in the period.
The second was much of the same. Arizona scored the only goal of the period at 5:21.
Zach Sanford failed to hold the zone and the Coyotes went on a breakout. Clayton Keller cut back across the grain and snapped one off Jordan Binnington‘s glove for the 1-0 lead. Binnington likely should have had it, but he saw the shot late too.
The Blues actually looked dangerous on a five-on-four power play. Once they were given a five-on-three power play, the offense disappeared and then the man advantage went back to struggling on the ensuing 5v4.
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Both the second and third period opened with a Coyotes power play. They were fortunate to kill both of them off.
Credit has to go to Arizona. They were clogging up everything and taking away almost every inch of space available to the Blues.
However, despite John Kelly’s claim of a great save, the Blues ran themselves into a corner. O’Reilly could have taken the shot, but by passing, there was almost no angle for Dunn to find an opening.
The Blues just could not free any space in the middle. Things got even worse six on five as they failed to even get a shot off, much less force any rebounds.
The Blues finished this seven-game set 3-3-1 against Arizona after the 1-0 loss.
This was just an odd game overall. St. Louis didn’t play poorly, but they didn’t do a lot right and there were several bad breaks against them.
The call at the end of the first against O’Reilly was just terrible. He was the one that got hauled down, but ended up in the box for interference. You can make the case he impeded his opponent, but there’s no way to not call a matching minor.
The Blues had guys falling all over. Whether that’s a result of fatigue or ice conditions or just bad luck is unknown.
The passing was not good top to bottom. St. Louis knew how well Arizona was clogging the middle, but they kept trying to force shots and force cross-ice passes. The Blues seem to have an aversion to taking shots purely for rebounds.
They also got into a habit of blind passes, both in the offensive and defensive zone. When things are not going well, you have to simplify, not complicate. Many of those blind passes led to turnovers.
Speaking of simplifying, when the Blues were on the PK at the end of the game, Faulk played the puck to a teammate on the half wall, on the off wing. Just send the puck out and be done with it instead of allowing Arizona to retain since there was nothing to be done even if that pass connected.
Last, but not least, is the power play. It looked fine at times, but the five-on-three is ridiculous. The Blues have not scored on a traditional two-man advantage since 2016. Wrap your head around that.
You hate to pick on a guy that was clearly trying, but Sanford was just off tonight. He looked like a guy that was recovering from the flu, but the odd thing is he’s had nine days since he was actually sick.
Regardless, he looked like a guy playing through a fog. He wasn’t strong enough on his stick to keep the puck in the zone with an exhausted Coyotes line out there.
That miscue eventually led to the only goal. It was not Sanford’s fault, but keeping it in the zone changes that particular outcome.
The Blues are definitely shorthanded, but Sanford doesn’t need to be on the power play. None of the passes to him were great, but he also failed to hold the zone a couple other times beyond that one key play. Sanford’s passing was not on point either.
While the Blues did not play poorly, there really was not anything they did well. As a fan and analyst, I can usually pick out something to list as a pro, but there just was not anything that stood out.
There was a good shift here and a solid play there, but it was just an odd game. Arizona locked it down after scoring a goal and even prior to that really.
They had the opportunity to implement their game plan and worked it to perfection. The Blues just did not do enough to counteract that.
The Coyotes get the shutout, but it was one of the least earned shutouts in recent memory. Darcy Kuemper made some saves, but there were none that he really had to struggle with.
The one good thing is the Blues are all but done with Arizona now. They have one more road game against them, but that’s a couple months away.
We finally get to see a different team. The Blues will play San Jose at the Enterprise Center on Thursday, February 18.