The St. Louis Blues were in desperate need of a hot start against the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite getting to overtime and hanging with Vegas near the end, the Blues needed to be playing from ahead.
The Blues could not even last the first five minutes without surrendering a goal. The team failed to clear the puck again, which is a disturbing trend, and Vegas scored after their defender was left wide open on the backside.
Fans blame Ville Husso, as they always do, but pro players score when they’re wide open within eight feet of the goal. The Blues did not do enough to put Vegas off their game at all.
St. Louis relied on a rookie forward to give them any kind of spark as Dakota Joshua got in a fight. Despite this, the Blues accomplished nothing.
They evened up the shot totals by the end of 20 minutes, but the quality of chances were not even close. St. Louis was extremely lucky to only be down by one.
The Blues found a little more stride in the second period, but came up empty regardless. The TV broadcast team kept talking about how they were getting to their game and doing this or that, but it was all for nothing.
It’s great to finally be finding energy and winning board battles. When your shots accomplish next to nothing as far as pressure on the goalie, then what was the point? It’s energy spent in no particular direction.
It was much of the same in the third period. The Blues finished off the final 37 seconds of a power play and had a look or so, but didn’t get anything done.
Their failure to clear the puck bit them again. After a weak little tip play by Mike Hoffman failed to get past the defenseman, Vegas scored just a few seconds later. The defenders were all facing the end wall, thus not set up properly, and nobody could clear the rebound after a great save.
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St. Louis did what they do and started chipping away. Once the game seems out of reach, they start doing things right. With 15 minutes left, Sammy Blais scooped one in over the blocker shoulder to make it 2-1.
That was the end of the good things for the Blues. They failed to score on a five-on-three power play, continuing to fail in a scenario most teams score on for the last five years.
Another giveaway sprang a counter attack and Vegas scored to make it 3-1. It was a shot that Ville Husso really needed to save.
Vegas made it 4-1 with around seven minutes left. The defense was weak and Husso failed to keep his pad sealed to the ice on a wraparound, giving scumbag Mark Stone his second goal of the game.
The Blues pulled the goalie with a ton of time left, but there was just no space. Vegas defended it all perfectly and St. Louis had no urgency. Eventually, Vegas got the empty net goal for a 5-1 win.
Cons: Failure to clear pucks
At the NHL level, especially for a team that is considered a possible Stanley Cup contender, you would think getting the puck out of your own zone would be second nature. The Blues seem to struggle with the concept like they are a lower-tier junior team.
I have seen shorthanded collegiate teams find ways to clear their zone with more regularity than the Blues recently. There’s just no excuse for it at this point.
I’m beyond words for how to even fathom how it happens. It cannot be coaching because there’s no way Craig Berube has failed to address this.
It cannot be boiled down to lack of talent, because even with the injuries, the Blues still have a team capable of staying near the top of their division. It seems to just be a lack of attention to detail in the most key areas of the ice.
St. Louis is just so blasted weak on the puck, or they are too strong. Early in the second period, they had seven icing calls against them, meaning they either flip the puck all the way down or they don’t even get it past their own blue line.
What is worse is there are regular offenders in this category. It’s not players that will be replaced when the team is healthy either.
Cons: Scandella and Dunn
Defensively, the Blues were a shambles. Don’t give me this business about blocked shots or keeping Vegas to fewer shots than the Blues had. They were no good.
Guys like Torey Krug had two giveaways, as far as the stats say and 90% of the shots Vegas did have were grade-A chances. That said, based on the eye test and the stats, the duo of Marco Scandella and Vince Dunn were just awful.
Dunn has been on my personal *bleep* list all season long. Due to injuries, the team has needed him now more than ever, but they need to look for other options next season.
He might have only had one statistical turnover, but his passing choices are terrible. For as much talent and ability as he clearly has, he seems to have no hockey sense at all at times.
Scandella has been a steady presence for the Blues and been worth his weight in gold for much of the year. The last two games have been horrendous.
Scandella was somewhat responsible for the turnover that led to the first Vegas goal on Friday. It was another poor play on his part that led to the first goal in this game.
Scandella was a minus-3 in this game. He also got blown by Max Pacioretty for Vegas’ third goal. The shot needed to be stopped, but the play never should have happened.
There’s no great answer to who to play with whom. Unless you split up Krug and Faulk, the Blues are kind of stuck. They cannot sustain success with these two playing this badly.
I’ll admit this one is as much being fatigued on my part as anything. I’m just so tired of trying to defend the goaltender position with the Blues.
It’s a constant, neverending battle. It doesn’t matter who is in net, there is always some idiotic opinion about how this goal should have been saved, even if Jesus himself would not have had a chance.
All that said, the Blues needed more from Husso. The Finnish netminder made some huge saves as the Blues just gave him no help at all.
Nevertheless, the Pacioretty goal was one he has to save. It was a decent snipe, but Husso has to react better and make the blocker save.
The first goal was one he could have stopped too. I give him a pass because I’ve played the position and it’s 50/50 at best to stop a shot from a wide open player that has time to pick his spot.
Still, once you reach the NHL, you need to have the reaction ability to make that save. If nothing else, Husso needed to make the stop just to shut up the people freaking out about any time he allows a goal early in the game.
While Husso was not to blame completely, he was just as much at fault as the team. With that in mind, the Blues lose no matter who is in goal.
You score four goals and lose. You come back the next night and only manage one goal and expect that to be good enough?
As good as Jordan Binnington can be, he rarely gets shutouts. Husso is even less likely to keep a 0 up there. You have to force some sort of offensive pressure and the Blues got none.
The shot total is irrelevant. Marc-Andre Fleury was never under any real pressure and hardly ever had to make any double or triple saves. Nobody was hacking and whacking at rebounds or getting in Fleury’s grill.
St. Louis could have had 50 or 60 shots and if their game was exactly the same as this contest, they still would have only got that one goal. It’s simple to blame the goaltending, but when your offensive players don’t look like they could score on a peewee team, you have a problem.
St. Louis has been bad at home. As much as it costs fans sleep, hopefully another west coast swing will be good.
They have to take maximum points against Los Angeles and San Jose coming up. After that, it’s a lot of games against teams that are as good or better than the Blues.