Coming off their offensively overcharged win against the San Jose Sharks, the St. Louis Blues were hoping to build some momentum and, perhaps, get a winning streak going. The Anaheim Ducks did not want to be gracious hosts.
The Blues had a slow start, in the grand scheme of things. They did not play poorly or lack energy, but they did not impose their will either.
St. Louis got the first handful of shots, but surrendered the first goal. Admittedly, it was a soft goal, scored below the faceoff dot, over the glove hand.
After that goal, the Blues were on their heels for most of the first period. They generated a handful of chances, but John Gibson seemed like he was dialed in, making several quality saves.
While the second period was a normal second period to start, i.e. slow and sloppy, the Blues managed to get their offense to come alive. The Blues managed three goals in the period.
David Perron sniped one following another fantastic pass, this time from Brayden Schen. After that, Zach Sanford deflected in a goal. While I might not be 12’s biggest fan, it’s good that the team is getting tip goals at last.
Last, but not least, newcomer Dakota Joshua shrugged off all the miscalls of his name by the broadcast crew. Sure, it was a lucky bounce for the rebound to go directly off his leg and in, but you still have to be in the right position for that to happen.
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The third period was another frame to have a poor start. Anaheim scored early on a wraparound. It was a lucky goal, but another that Ville Husso probably could have done a little better on.
The Ducks were pressuring, or the Blues were allowing them too much space – take your pick. The only thing to quell the Anaheim surge was a Ducks penalty, but the Blues failed to score on that midway through the third and the opponent picked up their pressure right after.
That pressure paid off. With 4:44 left in the third, the Ducks cut the lead down to one goal with a tip-in goal that Husso didn’t have a chance on. The disappointing thing here was the Blues were in control of the puck, but had another defensive-zone turnover.
Making matters worse, the Blues got a slashing call against them in the final two minutes. It seemed like things were closed out when Sanford scored an empty net goal. Then, the Ducks knocked in a fluttering puck to make it a one-goal game again.
The Blues killed off the final minute and won a nervy game, 5-4.
At this point, what more can we say about this kid? There’s enough film on him that if teams were going to implement some sort of strategy to slow him down, they would have done it.
With confidence, we should be able to say that this guy is a true NHL talent. There’s no reason to think he’s ever going to be a leading scorer, but that’s not what the Blues need.
They need exactly what he’s providing, which is timely scoring to supplement your more established stars. Maybe he’ll develop into a 30-plus goal scorer right away, but that’s something to worry about later.
What is so impressive is his calmness. In his first handful of NHL games in 2020, he looked overwhelmed by the game. Now, it’s just a hockey game and he’s letting his talent take control.
There’s no jitters there. Kyrou knows exactly what he’s going to do with the puck once he takes the pass.
Cons: Close game
Most games, you need to give credit to the opponent for sticking to a game plan and making things tough. The NHL is the best hockey league in the world and even the worst teams are still better than your average team.
That said, this game had no business being this close. The Ducks had their spurts and a heck of an individual game by Isac Lundestrum, but the Blues let them have far too much.
Anaheim is a bad team and the Blues did not make them look as bad as they are. Once the game was 4-1, it should have been over.
Unfortunately, the Blues played like they thought it was over. That’s when you need to hit the gas even harder.
When you put it into cruise control, that’s when injuries happen and also when teams get back into it. Yeah, it was a fluky goal that got them back into it at the start of the third, but 4-2 is still a commanding lead.
St. Louis needed to find a way to make it 5-2 and 6-2. Instead, they just kind of putzed along and did not do much of anything except turn the puck over and invite pressure.
We’ve seen how bad things can get when they do that against good teams. You would think they would learn and not allow the same to happen against a bad team, but apparently not.
A win is a win and you need the points. As always, you do have to take into consideration the amount of talent that is not on the ice for the Blues.
In the grand scheme, the Blues got it done, but you just don’t like to see complacency creep into their game. They’re talented, but they cannot win on talent alone. As poor as Anaheim is, they proved they can hang with the Blues if St. Louis is not keeping their foot down.
Kyrou had a good game, but an awful turnover late in the game. As great as he’s been lately, it has to be said Justin Faulk was not great in this game. He had some bad luck, but also some bad turnovers too.
Schenn and O’Reilly had fantastic passes and the Blues’ passing, overall, was wonderful for 90% of the game. The problem was the 10% when it was not was at the end of the game, when they’re trying to clear pucks out. You cannot go through the middle of your ice in your own zone and expect to get away with it.
But, the Blues won. We can pick it apart until we are blue in the face, but they got the two points. At the end of the season, we won’t care how.
They just have to win the next one.