The St. Louis Blues played quite well in the first period of their first game of this series against the San Jose Series. That was not even close to being true in the second game.
The Blues looked like a team that had spent too much time in the sauna. Nothing they were trying was working.
St. Louis was stumbling around like their legs just were not underneath them. Their decision making was quite terrible too.
The two biggest turnovers in the first period led directly to goals against. The Blues passing was not horrendous, but they were trying cute plays when there were better options available.
Zach Sanford was in the left circle in his own zone. Instead of just chipping it up the wall, he tried to slip it through the legs of the forechecker into the slot. That’s not a good idea under normal circumstances, let alone with an opposing player three feet from you.
The second goal was not quite as eggregious, but could also have been avoided. The puck was cleared and Jordan Binnington allowed it to come all the way to the side of the net before he fielded it. Binnington felt there was too much pressure coming on his right, so shifted it to the far corner, but he banked it too sharply off the wall, which led to the turnover and a quick goal for the 2-0 Sharks lead.
The second period did not start much better, overall. The offense picked up, but the lack of proper defending and poor passing continued.
Only minutes after Darren Pang saying the Blues could not afford to fall behind any further, they allowed the next goal. St. Louis got crossed up after losing a defensive-zone faceoff and never recovered, with an open.
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A mental lapse allowed the lead to balloon back to three. The Sharks went boards to slot and Vince Dunn, as well as others, puck watched until the puck was in the net to make it 4-1.
The Blues didn’t waste time answering. Torey Krug fired a shot and Sanford redeemed himself with a nice tip to make the game 4-2.
After wading through some nervy moments, the Blues finally tied it up. Kyrou kept up his hot play, wristing one in from the left circle.
The third period was mainly controlled by the Blues, though they did not really generate much from it. However, it was another defensive zone turnover that turned the game for the worse. After failing to clear the zone, the Sharks got a lucky bounce after a deflection and the puck went off Binnington’s back for a 5-4 score.
The first period Blues showed up again after that. They did not have the turnovers as much, but there was no urgency at the end of the game.
With Binnington pulled, they kept dusting the puck off, looking for another pass. San Jose did a good job of clogging the lanes, but the Blues never even attempted to get it on goal until there was under 10 seconds left.
St. Louis should have had at least a point from this game, but probably got what they deserved with the loss.
Cons: First period
The 2021 Blues are such an odd team. You always want solid, team play, but they take it to another level.
This season, the Blues seem to either have all 18 skaters playing well or all 18 playing dreadfully. In the first period, the latter option was true and you could make it 19, since Binnington didn’t look right either.
For once, it was not about a lack of effort, but St. Louis seemed to be trying to fight off a cloud of the mind. They were not making good decisions at all.
After 20 minutes of play, the Blues had nine defensive zone turnovers. You should not have nine turnovers in your own zone in one game, let alone one period.
The announce team blamed a bad bounce for the second goal. It was just a bad pass by Binnington. It hit the boards flush in the middle, so there was nothing for it to bounce off.
There was too much standing straight up by the defenders. It’s hard enough to react to the speed of players and passes when you’re on your game, but if you’ve got the stiff legs, you’re dead in the water.
There was also no offensive game at all. It doesn’t matter what the shot totals said (9), the Blues basically had no good chances.
It’s a small sample size. It’s too early to get excited too much, yada yada.
The bottom line is Jordan Kyrou can flat-out play. We keep trying to tell ourselves defenses might adjust when there’s more video or he might just be having a rookie hot streak.
Let’s worry about that in his sophomore season. Right now Kyrou is just doing everything well.
He’s adapted to the Blues style more than anyone could have imagined. He threw several hits, whether they showed in the stats or not, in the corners, trying to win the puck back.
His pass to Schenn for the goal was something any top assist man would be proud of. He feathered the puck over the defensive stick, right on target, for Schenn to just sweep it in.
He might not have the power or snap of Hoffman or Tarasenko, but Kyrou is showing an ability to be an elite shooter too. Give him some space and he’ll pick that hole on the goaltender.
That’s not a hopeful shot where a kid gets lucky. He sees his spot, picks it out and puts it home like a veteran.
It’s more of the same from the Blues. There’s just not a consistent push from this team game to game.
They have a slight excuse with all the injuries. But that’s just an excuse.
When you score four goals, have a good defense and one of the better goalies in the league, you should win. When you’re playing one of the bottom four teams in your division, and a lesser team within the entire NHL, you should win and you should not surrender five goals.
Circling back to the original con, I’ve never seen a team run so hot and cold. You can remove Kyrou from that conversation, but with the strange play and odd body language from Binnington, you can still say the Blues had 18 guys that were not on their game.
Some players had a flash here or there. Krug and Faulk were not bad. However, it’s just a poor overall performance.
The Blues need to be racking up the points against these kinds of teams. Every game in the NHL is not an easy game, but even with their injuries, the Blues still have a better lineup top to bottom.
When defenders allow players behind them with no regard for their position and guys get caught puck watching, it’s a recipe for disaster. That was the case here and the Blues deserved to lose, even though they fought hard to earn the 4-4 tie initially.