Grief can be a powerful thing if it motivates, but it can also drag a person down. The St. Louis Blues were hoping they could use their sadness over the loss of a team legend to propel them in their first home game in what felt like forever.
It sort of worked. For the second game in a row, the Blues had a spirited first period that included a Brayden Schenn fight.
The team had some jump and was buzzing around the net. Unfortunately, it led to nothing.
While the Blues seemed to move and get to the middle a little better than they did against Minnesota, it still was not good enough. The Blues either shot wide or right into the goaltender in the first period.
Of course, the second period also went the same way as it did in Minnesota. The Blues played alright, but you could tell they’d lost a small step.
Then, the bounces just would not go the Blues way. They were building themselves back into the game and Anaheim poached a goal.
All it ended up being was a flung puck from just north of the corner boards. Since Robert Bortuzzo had no clue where the puck was, he could not make a play on it and it bounced off a Ducks player and directly into the goal. You cannot get much more lucky than that.
St. Louis started chipping away again, getting more shots. It looked like they could tied it, but Vladimir Tarasenko rang one off the post and then the Ducks got another break right before intermission.
St. Louis coughed up the puck below the end line on what should have been a simple zone clearance. Of course, the deflection went right to a Duck, who patiently out-waited Jordan Binnington, who went down somewhat early, and tucked it around his right pad.
The third period didn’t seem to be going much better. The team’s first chance had David Perron come down the right wing, hit the goaltender directly with the shot and nobody crashing the net for a rebound, just peeling off.
Just when it seemed the game was slipping away, the Blues managed to give fans a glimmer of hope. On a delayed penalty, Ryan O’Reilly finally got one to trickle in through the goaltender to make it 2-1 with around half the period left.
It was a fool’s hope. The Blues pushed, but just could not beat John Gibson again.
Poor puck control led to turnovers and two empty net goals. The Blues failed to capitalize again and fell 4-1.
The Blues need guys to lead and while Brayden Schenn is struggling a bit offensively, he’s doing a lot of other things. He’s leading in other ways.
For the second game in a row, Schenn got in a fight. This time, it was not predetermined, but him sticking up for a teammate.
Vldeimir Tarasenko got knocked down on what should have been an interference call. Schenn wasted no time, dropping the gloves and grabbing the guy.
Beyond just being the good teammate thing to do, I appreciate this because Schenn has not always seen eye to eye with Vlady. After Schenn’s first season with the Blues, comments were made that seemed like a veiled shot at Tarasenko, so if they’re on good terms, that’s so much the better.
Now, we just need the offense from #10 to return.
Cons: Failing to take advantage
You could apply this concept to many different ways, but for me, it’s incredibly frustrating that the Blues don’t take advantage of things most other teams do.
They don’t score on the power play regularly enough. They score goals in bursts to keep their percentage at an OK rate, but it’s rarely an important goal at a timely spot.
They also cannot take advantage of teams playing back-to-backs. No, that doesn’t directly apply to this game, but the Blues lost to Vegas and Minnesota when both those opponents should have been the tired team.
In this game, they failed to jump on a goalie that had not played for 12 days. Gibson had not played in six-straight games, but the Blues either hit him or didn’t get pressure in front to take advantage of rebounds. This allowed him to gain confidence.
Can we get a new writer to script some of these games? The current formula of copy and paste is clearly working against the Blues.
Two games in a row where they outwork their opponent in the first period and have nothing to show for it. Two games in a row where they cannot replicate that pressure in the second period and give up a lucky goal against.
Eight blasted games in a row where the Blues failed to score the first goal of the game. While they have not lost all those games, that’s just not a winning recipe.
The defense is playing relatively well, but the puck control is still terrible. They have cut down on the defensive zone turnovers, but still manage to give the other team the puck at the worst possible time.
Neither of the Anaheim goals should have gone in and that has nothing to do with goaltending. Torey Krug was put in a tough spot with the pass to him, but he cannot give the puck away like he did.
Tarasenko wins a board battle late in the game and then has a weak pass back to Dunn that easily gets deflected out for a rush down on the empty net goal. A bad pass or poor decision led to all four goals.
The broadcasters can talk all they want about the effort leading to wins down the road, but the Blues need wins now. The last 40% of the season is almost all against the top three in the division, so you can’t rely on moral victories.