The St. Louis Blues were coming off one of, if not the most dominating performance by the Note in 2021, following a 9-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on April 9. Just one night later, the Blues were hoping to start a true win streak, possibly picking up their third win in a row and second over the Wild.
However, old habits started creeping up. Combine that with a Wild team determined to reverse the embarrassment they suffered and it was never going to be easy.
The game got off to an iffy start. After finding out that Robert Thomas was week-to-week, the worry switched to Colton Parayko. He took a shot off the foot and also an awkward hit, forcing the trainers to begin working on his back on the bench. Amazingly enough, he did not miss a shift and played the entire first period.
After the 9-1 win, fans were slightly worried the Blues used up all their offense. In the first period, this seemed slightly true as St. Louis only hit the target five times and none were truly challenging.
Beyond the offensive struggles, the Blues got careless with the puck exiting their zone again. They got away with it for most of the period, but not entirely.
More from Analysis
- St. Louis Blues and Cardinals Similar In All The Wrong Ways
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 82 At Dallas
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 81 Vs Dallas
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 80 At Minnesota
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 79 Vs NY Rangers
After a turover in the neutral zone that was very avoidable, the Blues surrendered the first goal of the game. It wasn’t the toughest shot ever, but the entire play would have been avoided if the Blues just got the puck in on the simple play. St. Louis came close to committing the same mistake following a bad zone exit, but no shot materialized on the follow up.
Thankfully, the Blues woke up in the locker room during the first intermission. They came out more focused in the second period.
Early in the frame, the Blues converted on their first power play. They set up Mike Hoffman for a one-timer on the right circle and his slapper snuck through to tie the game 1-1.
St. Louis played alright during the middle stages of the game. However, their mistakes continued to catch up to them.
After getting called for a penalty, the Blues could not keep the pressure of the Wild away. Despite some good blocks and good saves too, Minnesota scored when the Wild had big screen and the puck changed direction on the way through to give the opponents a 2-1 lead.
It was a poor finish to what had otherwise been a decent 20 minutes of play for the Blues. Not a perfect 20 minutes, but better than the first in everything except the score.
The third period was a lot of back and forth. The Blues pushed forward and created chances, but gave up plenty too.
The Blues felt like they were fading away in the third period. There was very little pressure as it went on and no screening in front of Cam Talbot.
Nevertheless, St. Louis got it done. With the goaltender pulled, Hoffman came up with goal number two. It was a pinball shot that went off the defender and got the Blues a point.
The Blues played the smart game and did not sit back in the overtime. After a brief foray into the defensive zone, the Blues controlled the OT.
Despite this, it seemed as though it was going to a shootout, but the captain had other plans. Ryan O’Reilly roofed one for the winner and the second point.
I made the comment on Twitter that it does not matter if Hoffman gets traded or not. On this night, he was still wearing the Note and he did exactly what the Blues brought him in for.
Hoffman scored big goals. He scored two goals in one game and any time you do that it’s a good night. It was a great night this time around because the Blues needed those points and they needed those goals desperately.
Both times around, it was vintage Hoffman. The first one, as mentioned, was a slapper from the right circle.
The second one, though not as pretty, was still as good if not better. Hoffman just let loose when so many other guys had passed up chances. Sure, it was a lucky bounce, but you don’t get that bounce if you don’t put it on net.
It would have been fantastic for him to get the hat trick, but the win is more important. The mere fact Chief had the confidence to put Hoffman out there in overtime shows how solid he was in this game.
Cons: No net-front presence
The Blues did not play a bad game in this contest, but they seemed to be shying away from the hard areas of the ice. They would go to the corners and battle, but there seems to almost be a subconscious fear of being hurt in front.
There were way too many shots that Talbot saw all the way through. That’s not good enough.
Conversely, the Blues allowed Minnesota to screen their goaltender far too much.
On the offensive end, the Blues were half-hearted in their net presence. Guys like Brayden Schenn and others would go to the net, but with no real purpose.
They’d stand to the side of the goalie and even jump when the shot came in. These actions made it seem like they thought they were screening the goalie when in fact they had not taken away the vision at all.
Pros: Le capitaine
What more can you say about the captain? Ryan O’Reilly leads by example.
O’Reilly has had a rough season, not scoring at the clip he’d like and making uncharacteristic errors like penalties and turnovers. After scoring a hat trick, our captain comes up with an absolute beauty for the game winner.
He had the wherewithal to hold the puck all the way around. The precision to scoop that shot over the shoulder was just amazing.
As a whole, the 9-1 victory was more fun than this game. As an emotional roller coaster, this game was on another level.
Admittedly, whether it’s due to personal issues or just the whole pandemic affect on sports, I have not felt that much passion regarding the Blues, even when they’ve won. It’s been a long time since I celebrated goals, but those last two got my arms up in the air.
You score a goal while on a six-on-five and bank it in? Huge.
The captain makes an unbelievable play to win it all? Yes, please.
With so many counting the Blues out and for them to battle back, it just felt like it meant that much more. St. Louis hasn’t accomplished anything except tying themselves for a playoff spot, at first, and then leapfrogging Arizona for the night.
Minnesota outplayed the Blues much of this game. When you still get a win, given all that, it shows the reslience has returned.
These last couple games felt a lot like 2019. The ending of the season might not be anything like that, but the ride is getting fun.