St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021 Game 25 At LA Kings

St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Winning back-to-back games is difficult at the best of times. Given the St. Louis Blues injury situation, the fact they’re winning more games than not is impressive.

However, when things are within your grasp, letting them slip away is more painful. Blues fans found that out the hard way.

If you told most Blues fans prior to the series that their team would take three points of a possible four, most would jump on that. Given how the Kings dominated the Blues at Enterprise Center, even two out of four points would be acceptable to many.

Game circumstances change the feelings of an outcome. The Blues set that into motion just 25 seconds into the game.

After a push up the ice, the Blues gained a two-on-one. It was finished with a fantastic one-timer by David Perron for the 1-0 lead and keeping his hot streak going.

It was good vibes, but you felt like the Kings would get their act together sooner than later. One goal was not going to hold up.

The Blues kept the pressure up, however. Just over four minutes later, the Blues struck again.

After a flurry of activity, Nathan Walker tapped one in. The Aussie was in the right place at the right time after a strong shift and just had to direct the puck in to make sure it didn’t bank off the post.

St. Louis kept on rolling. After drawing a penalty, the power play scored for the third game in a row, with Ryan O’Reilly notching the goal.

As well as the Blues had been playing on this road trip, or as well as the results had gone even when not playing well, you figured a three-goal lead had to hold up. The Kings had other ideas.

St. Louis slacked off later in the first period. Los Angeles broke into the zone and Anze Kopitar snapped one past Jordan Binnington to make it 3-1.

Kopitar notched another one late in the second period. The Kings go-to scorer came up big on the power play, making it 3-2 with under two to go.

Then, the rails really came off. With just 11 seconds left in the period, the Kings banked one in off Binnington’s elbow with a shot from the left circle to tie it, 3-3.

The Kings kept charging in the third period. Binnington stood tall, despite little help from his teammates on the offensive end.

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The Blues were more than content to gain the point and just see the period out. It was not a terrible idea, once you felt you had the point secured.

Nevertheless, given the way the game had transpired, their luck had run out. Despite some pushes up ice, the Blues best chance came when their injured scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko, drove the net.

He showed no unease dropping his shoulder and bullrushing the net. No goal came from it and the Kings countered with an odd-man rush and a 4-3 OT win.

Pros: Tarasenko

Statistically, there was nothing special about this night for Vladimir Tarasenko. He contributed no points and was a minus-2.

However, this was as close to a perfect start as you could get. Tarasenko almost had the storybook ending, but even that was not 100% needed, other than it would have given the Blues the win.

What was good about Tarasenko’s game is we didn’t see a player worried. He looked like the Vlady of old, worried more about getting to pucks and scoring goals than his shoulder.

He took four official shot, plus a few that did not count on target. There was good zip behind his shot and good pace to his skating stride.

He’s never been a blazer, so you didn’t expect him to blow by anyone. He’s never taken slap shots, so you did not expect the shooting gallery to open either.

We got a confident, in shape, Tarasenko though and that’s huge. The way he pushed past the defender in overtime was brilliant.

Just the fact he was courageous enough to try it impressed many. Under normal circumstances, Tarasenko buries that. Sadly, it slipped off his stick and no goal came to let Blues fans celebrate.

Cons: Letting it slip

It might be an unfair generalization, but when you score three goals in the first period on a team that you’ve struggled against, you have to find a way to win. The Blues did not do that.

Credit has to go to the Kings for seeing the gaps in the Blues’ play and taking advantage. The problem is you cannot take your foot off the gas at all.

Injuries don’t matter in that situation. The Blues lost focus.

We can argue about what caused that. Maybe it’s fatigue. The Blues had five games in eight days with two overtime games mixed in at the end in back-to-back games.

Perhaps it was complacency. The Blues have been one of the worst teams in the league at holding on to a two-plus-goal lead over the past few seasons. Even radio broadcaster Chris Kerber mentioned that.

As talented as they are and as hard as Craig Berube makes them work, the Blues lack a killer edge when they have a large lead.

Any pushback in the form of a goal would have been the difference. The Blues did not get that and had four unanswered goals scored on them.

Cons: Binnington

I hesitate to put Binnington under a negative section, but let’s be honest. He’s very good when he’s on, but he’s been shaky lately.

The power play goal and the odd-man rush against him in overtime were not shots he was going to save. Also, he’s not to blame for this loss. There were plenty of things players in front of him could have done differently to alter the course of the game.

That said, he should save the first and the third goal against him. Both of those pucks hit him and he wasn’t fully ready for some reason.

The first one has to be a save. While not physically, you could tell Binnington was cheating to his glove side, thinking Kopitar would fire across the grain. Instead, he went short side and this caught Binnington by surprise.

There’s no way the Kings should have a player so open on the faceoff circle and it’s a harder shot to save due to how close to goal it was. Even so, the puck hit Binnington in the inner part of the elbow in a manner that he should have been able to steer it away.

Binnington made good saves and is a reason the Blues even got a point. He’s also a reason they did not get two.

Overview

For having such a great start, this game headed south in a hurry. There were quite a few issues despite a good start.

Jordan Kyrou slinked back into a rookie role, trying to defer every opportunity he got. Zach Sanford had to play center, due to injuries. He did a decent job, but just as he’s not really a top-six winger, he’s not a top-three center.

The Blues continue to get good performances. Nobody really expected Walker to score, so that makes letting the game slip away even more frustrating.

The things you take out of this game are smaller. You got a point and you were inches away from getting two, with Tarasenko charging the net.

You kept Tarasenko intact and healthy. I won’t lie, I was against playing him in LA since he got injured against the Kings once before. The fact he played a normal Tarasenko game cannot be overlooked or overstated.

We all should do our best to understand the fatigue factor. You’re asking guys who normally play seven or eight minutes to play 12-15 minutes. You’re asking guys who have never been in the NHL to play special teams or play seven to eight minutes of key time.

There has to be a way to slam the breaks on that game. Maybe it’s someone starting a fight or taking a run and snowing Jonathan Quick, just to change the pace of the game and get the Kings off theirs.

Next. Blues record more impressive than it seems. dark

A point is acceptable, but only just. We’d all have taken a point prior to the game, but how it came about makes it feel like sour grapes.