The St. Louis Blues wanted to get back to winning ways after losing four-straight games, especially after losing games against teams below them in the standings. Unfortunately, the Colorado Avalanche came in as one of the hottest teams in the league and had no intention to let the Blues off the hook.
Things did not get off to a great start. The Blues took an early penalty and the Avalanche took advantage.
Though the Blues killed off the first 90 seconds, they could not keep the Avs off the board. Colorado jammed it in on the right side of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
St. Louis wasted little time getting back into it. One game after being kept out of the lineup, Mike Hoffman showed some value, tying the game up.
The Blues were doing a good job of keeping the Avs at bay when the game was even strength. Unfortunately, they took another penalty late in the period. Colorado scored just eight seconds into their second power play after winning the faceoff.
The Blues were not able to close the gap this time around. Despite receiving their own power play, the Blues went into the break down 2-1.
Despite creating a few chances here or there in the second, the Blues did not score the next goal. Jordan Binnington let in an incredibly bad goal by making himself very small on the near post and Nathan MacKinnon ripped one to the far side to grab a 3-1 lead.
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Four minutes later, the Blues did manage to grab one back. This time around, the Blues did take advantage of a power play as David Perron scored on a second effort to make it 3-2.
The game would end that way as the Blues just couldn’t muster enough offense to get the job done. The third goal by the Avs was a killer, but the lack of scoring is really a huge problem right now.
The officiating is not much better. When the Blues were applying pressure, they called a horrendous trip on the Blues.
If you’re getting questionable officiating, there’s not a lot you can do. However, the Blues came into this game knowing they needed to stay out of the box against Colorado.
The Avalanche were 7-12 on the power play against the Blues coming into the game. You’re going against a hot offense that has your number when they’re a man up. It sounds simplistic and it is, but as a professional, you have to find a way to stay out of the box.
The funny thing is the Blues actually killed off the questionable calls. The two penalties that ended in the back of the net were just lazy plays.
St. Louis has a bad habit of getting stone feet and not skating. This causes them to take way too many holding or stick infraction penalties, which can be avoided if you’re moving your feet. Fatigue was not an excuse this time around because they had four, full days off.
Pros: Better game
The frustrating thing about this game is that the Blues played reasonably well five-on-five, especially in the first period. They showed that they can hang with the Avalanche and the gap is not as wide as we would believe.
The team’s defense is very different than the one that won the Cup, but they still play a decent style. If they stay out of the box and Binnington doesn’t let in that softie, the Blues contain one of the hottest scoring teams in the league.
There was jump and energy and good team play. Penalties and defensive zone turnovers continue to be the story of this team.
The problem is you can’t keep saying they played well and did not win.
Mike Hoffman did not play a perfect game and it’s becoming evident he’ll never truly fit in with the Blues, the way Craig Berube wants the team to play. That said, he had a pretty good game overall.
He blocked a shot and also had a takeaway, which showed that he had taken to heart whatever Chief’s message was to him after being benched. He also had three shots on goal.
One of those went into the back of the net. Another one didn’t count as a shot since it rang off the post on a chance that Hoffman would normally finish with that one-timer.
Still, he had a good game and the Blues need more of that.
It’s really the same story, different night. With the exception of the embarrassing loss to Anaheim, the Blues have not played as terribly as we might believe, but they’re not getting results.
If they defend well, they’re not getting good enough goaltending. If they get the goaltending, the defense makes too many mistakes. The offense has all but disappeared.
This team has gotten shutout far too often. When they do score, it’s usually to answer a goal already given up.
They can’t play with the lead and they can’t finish off comebacks. We are to the point where moral victories are not good enough any longer.
You have to get points. Playing well is great, but at this stage of the season, you’d rather an ugly win than a pretty loss.
It’s great the Blues hung with one of the better teams in the division. Colorado is a potential playoff opponent, if the Blues can even make the postseason, so you need to know you can do things to take them off their game and St. Louis did.
They’re still not comfortable with themselves though. You have a mediocre goalie, and that’s being kind, going against you and you manage just five shots in the second and 10 in the third – many of the 10 came late too, since the Blues only had three shots in the third about halfway through.
Maybe things go differently if that dumb penalty on David Perron is not called at the end of the game. We’ll never know.
We do know that the Blues put themselves in that position too many times. You can’t rely on scoring late goals that often. You need your goalie to steal you some games and neither netminder is doing that for St. Louis either.
It’s all just a mess right now. It’s not un-fixable, but there’s just so many things to fix that you cannot key on any one thing. They better get something right because Arizona seems likely to pick up at least a point and the Blues play the Avs again on Saturday.