The St. Louis Blues came into their most recent game against the Colorado Avalanche riding high. They had won three games in a row and seemed to have found their groove.
The worry was whether the cancelled game in Minnesota on Monday would throw off their momentum. That answer was not clear, but what was clear is that the Avalanche’s momentum was far greater.
The Avs were 8-1-1 in their last 10 games heading into the solo game against the Blues. St. Louis started ok, but it would prove to be another one of those games.
Colorado would get on the board first. St. Louis would allow a goal to the Avs fourth line at 10:28 of the period after they failed to clear the puck.
The Blues would fight back. Shortly before their first power play ended, the Blues strung some passes together nicely and finished it off with a Vince Dunn deflection from the slot.
It was a good answer from St. Louis. They seemed to have scratched their way back into the game despite a lack of shooting. Then, the second period happened.
The Blues barely got into the offensive zone all period. When they did, they passed up chances left and right.
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The offense mustered 11 shots, but that felt generous. The Blues honestly felt closer to scoring in the first period.
Colorado also grabbed the game by the scruff. They scored three goals in roughly eight minutes of play.
If we are serious, they were unlucky to not have more. It should be said the Blues should have scored, but we’ll get to that.
In the third period, the Blues just turned into monumental teases. They pushed, they shot, they got physical and just about everything you’d want from them, except enough goals scored.
The way they played in the third period just highlighted how absent they were in the second. Mike Hoffman scored his first goal of the night almost six minutes in.
It wasn’t pretty, but that’s what the Blues needed. From below the end line, he just smacked the puck right off the goalie and it trickled off his shoulder and in. They needed review to see it, but it counted.
Hoffman got his second of the night late in the third period. It was a blistering one-timer on the power play.
That gave the Blues a ton of momentum, and they had plenty to begin with prior to that goal. Sadly, it just wouldn’t be enough.
Despite leading the league in six-on-five goals, the Blues just couldn’t get the puck to settle and couldn’t find the holes in the Avalanche defense. They didn’t allow an empty netter, which was good, but they couldn’t crack that egg one last time and lost 4-3.
Cons: Passing up chances
I don’t know what witch or wizard or voodoo priest put a curse on the Blues, but they can take it off any time. We all love this team and all the players, but the team’s best pure scorer is Vladimir Tarasenko and he’s not a flashy, put the puck through the opponent’s legs kind of player.
He shoots. Everyone else should fall in line with that same thinking. However, somewhere along the line, regardless of who is on what line or even which players were on the roster, the Blues fall into these patterns where they think they’re the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey.
They try these ridiculous passes or want to thread the needle. The Blues consistently attempt blind passes or drop passes that just are not there and often lead to easy turnovers and good chances against their own goaltender.
Additionally, they just don’t want to shoot. Tarasenko did not let it rip on a good set up from Jaden Schwartz to get him open in the slot. Instead, he drove toward the left circle, got no shot and had the puck taken away prior to a vague chance for Brayden Schenn that was easily stopped.
Later in the second period, the Blues had a clean two-on-one with Marco Scandella and Zach Sanford. While anyone would grant that you’d choose Sanford to shoot out of those two, the situation needed Scandella to shoot instead of try a second (third overall) pass back to Sanford that got no shot at all.
The Blues are just not a pretty team. They have talent, but they’re not going to put together a bunch of highlight reel scoring chances, but they play like they think that’s how they win.
I figured he’d be gone. You likely figured he’d be gone.
It’s shocking that Mike Hoffman is not gone. Maybe shocking is an overstatement, but it seemed like he would no longer be with the Blues after April 12.
That said, we are finally starting to see the Mike Hoffman we hoped for when he signed. The bottom line is he’s never going to fully fit the Blues style, but if you bring a guy in to score goals, he needs to score goals.
Hoffman now has four goals in his last two games. He came close to a hat trick against Minnesota and quite close to the hatty in this game against Colorado.
Additionally, Hoffman now has three goals in his last three games against the Avalanche. While it might not be the most sound decision defensively, maybe he needs more ice time against the Avs.
What’s good to see, beyond the puck hitting the net, is him not being afraid to shoot. So many guys on this team just pass, pass, pass, even when they’re shooters. Hoffman will pass and sometimes gets drawn into the Blues oddity, but for the most part the guy lets it rip.
He didn’t dangle around anyone or score on some Savardian spin-o-rama. He put the puck toward the goal and good things happened.
Cons: Second period
The entire second period was just a mess. I don’t care what the stats say, the Blues had more jump and fight and offensive ability in the first period when they had eight shots compared to the second when they had 11.
The Blues play well when they keep it simple. Go north, not east-west, and make simple plays/get pucks to the net.
In the second period, they tried too much cross-ice BS that didn’t have a prayer. The drop passes were only slightly better than the garbage they put out there during their seven-game losing streak.
The opportunities passed up were horrendous. I don’t care if Scandella is a defensive defender. He has to take that shot.
Nobody can explain why Tarasenko didn’t rip it after Schwartz’ set up. He cost the team a scoring chance by being indecisive when his main thought process should be to shoot and only defer if shooting will clearly be blocked.
Boil it all down and the second period cost the Blues points and this game. If not for that meltdown of 20 minutes, the Blues either win this contest or get to overtime at the very least.
They were equal to, if not slightly ahead of the Avs in the first period. The Blues were the better team in the third period.
You outplay one of the league’s best teams for 40 minutes and lose because of how badly you played in one period.
Look at the game as a positive if you will. Think it’s only a negative if you must.
This game was frustrating and disappointing whichever way you slice it. The positives are the Blues, once again, proved they can hang with the big boys even when not at their absolute best.
St. Louis did enough in spurts to win the game. That does not mean they deserved to win the game.
Despite a fantastic push in the third period, the Blues did themselves in during the second. While it’s great to know you can hang, the truth is Colorado is far more talented right now and you cannot hand them things on a silver platter.
The frustrating thing is, statistically, this game didn’t add up.
The Blues won the faceoff battle. They outhit Colorado, forced them to commit as many turnovers as the Blues did, outshot them and did better on the power play.
The fact the Blues did all that and lost is discouraging. It shows how badly the second period went.
Colorado is a great team and they have the talent on the ice. Their goaltending is shaky, if not bad, and the Blues failed to exploit it enough.
Score once in the second period and you’re even, if not ahead. There’s just too much inconsistency from a team that cannot afford it.