The St. Louis Blues had a little, unexpected, time off between their 43rd and 44th game of the season. Though they were always going to play the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues missed their game on April 20 because the Avs had people in covid protocol.
Things got cleared in time to play the Avs on April 22, in St. Louis. Time off is always an iffy things with the Blues, since it gives them rest, but also doesn’t alter any mistakes they consistently make.
The inconsistency in their game showed up again in the first period. The Blues had plenty of ups and downs. Though the ups were more prevalent, the downs were too noticeable.
St. Louis scored early. Despite a rather poor showing by the team’s power play unit, again, they managed to string together quick passes and Jaden Schwartz finished off a goal from the slot to grab a 1-0 lead.
The Blues had the early goal, but were not generating much offense. They scored on 50% of their first two shots, but didn’t threaten much afterward.
Though they would outshoot the Avs in the first period, they got outchanced, which is a better indicator of who was actually creating. Nevertheless, the Blues played a good 19 minutes.
Unfortunately, just like you need to play a complete 60 minutes in a game, you need to play a complete 20 minutes in a period. Zach Sanford had a brain meltdown in the final 31 seconds and it cost the team the lead.
Instead of chipping the puck up an open lane along the boards, the enigmatic forward tried to send it through the middle with an opponent clearly right there. It got intercepted and Colorado scored immediately after, finding an open man just feet from the goal.
The second period went about the same as almost all second periods in recent weeks, and almost all season. The Blues looked lost and unenergetic.
They took too many penalties – dumb penalties at that. They had two delay of game penalties in the second period for clearing the puck out of the rink.
Colorado scored on the power play, showing the Blues had played with fire too many times. It was a lucky goal since the puck came directly off the endwall to a man to the side of the net, but you could still tell a goal was coming regardless of how it came.
Frankly, the Blues were fortunate to escape the second period only trailing 2-1. They absorbed far too much pressure, failed to clear the puck several times and fatigued all their key players by getting them stuck on the ice for too long in the defensive zone.
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The third period was just somewhat numbing. The Blues kept making mistakes and failed to capitalize on the opportunities the Avalanche gave them.
Despite two full power plays and a partial third one, the Blues barely threatened with the man advantage. Upon the completion of the third one, Colorado scored a third goal shortly after, jabbing the knife in and twisting it.
St. Louis gave fans a faint glimmer of hope later on. Schwartz scored his second goal of the game, one that trickled through the goalie, making it a 3-2 game.
As good as the Blues have been six-on-five, they failed to establish clean control with the goaltender pulled. Colorado got about an easy an empty-net goal as you will see to seal off a 4-2 win.
I got pushback on Twitter, which is to be expected, but Jake Walman had a good game in this contest. Quite frankly, the Blues need to seriously consider promoting him full time (or Niko Mikkola) and dumping Vince Dunn.
Walman did end up minus-1, but the goal was not really his fault. He played almost three minutes on the Blues penalty kill, so he was logging hard, important minutes.
He kept things simple. Walman didn’t really make many mistakes, which is something the veterans cannot say.
Additionally, Walman put the puck on or toward net. So many other guys hold or fake or pass it off. Walman did not hesitate and tossed pucks toward the target, at least giving guys opportunities to grab a loose puck.
Walman also blocked two shots. He didn’t have a ton of stats, but as a third-pair player, he did just fine and has shown he’s a better option for now.
The Blues penalty kill actually did a good job on this evening. They held one of the best power plays at bay for much of the game.
It should also be said that many of the penalties didn’t need to be called. Schwartz got called for a lame slash that only occurred because the Avs defender barely had a grip on his stick.
The one on Justin Faulk was iffy as well. Regardless, you simply cannot give a team like Colorado that many chances.
The Avs had five power plays. Even if you keep them off the board completely, that’s 10 minutes where you cannot gain any momentum and a lot of energy lost due to how well Colorado moves the puck.
The delay of game penalties are just inexcusable at this point. You could almost give Colton Parayko a pass due to his puck clearing almost all three zones to clear out.
Dunn’s clearance is garbage. There was no need to release the puck when he did – he had time to make a smarter play. Even with a rolling puck, you could have cleared the zone without trying to go that high off the glass.
Penalties are never good, but you could accept it if it was a hold or a hook that denied a breakout or clear goal. Dumb penalties that come from guys reaching or not moving your feet or panicking are just killing this team though.
I still feel Blues fans give Schwartz too much of a pass when he’s just as inconsistent as anyone, but there is no doubt he played a good game in this one. While he passed up chances, just like everyone, he was the only one to finish.
His score on the power play was nice. Going down to a knee, he swooped it past the goalie and it was nothing easy. It was a hot pass and there was just as much chance the puck dribbled off the heel of his stick, but he kept it in the wheelhouse and scored.
The second goal should not have scored. It was a bad play by the goaltender, but Schwartz still put it on net and something good happened.
Cons: Pass, pass, pass…turnover
This team reminds me too much of the early 2010’s Blues. Despite so much evidence to the fact that simple, north-south hockey works for this team, they go for the pretty play.
The amount of centering passes or angled passes or even cross-ice passes the Blues made in this contest was staggering. They barely even connected on the pass, let alone set up an actual scoring opportunity.
Tyler Bozak passed up a great look at net trying to go for the back door. Brayden Schenn got a puck blocked, but he tried to pass instead of shoot during the second period. He’s a center, but he needs to be looking to score.
On top of all that, the Blues kept giving the puck away too. Sanford’s giveaway at the blue line was disgusting.
Perhaps he was trying to pass to someone up the ice. He has to realize just getting it out is the better play, but this team rarely realizes that the pass is not the right play. The panic in that play is regrettable too because Sanford had nobody closing down, so he could have put the puck on the forehand and sent it up the boards instead of backhanding it through the middle.
This team is so frustrating to watch right now. The Avalanche are the better team, but not as much as the Blues would lead you to believe right now.
The team’s stats are fluff at the moment. On paper, they only got outshot by two and had 27 shots on goal.
I don’t care what Bally Sports put up on their chances in the post game show, the Blues only had two really good chances and they scored on both. The rest of them barely made a shaky goaltender even sweat.
Jordan Binnington had to work his tail off to make 25 saves. His counterpart barely did anything.
Offensively, the Blues are just not doing enough. Name whoever you want, but they’re not creating.
The Blues had five power plays themselves and even though they scored a goal, they wasted most of that. On social media, I see all these ridiculous posts about the defense and this person isn’t here and that person isn’t here.
Bring those people back and these results don’t change. If you’re only scoring one or two goals per game, you’re not winning in today’s league.
You cannot hope to hold today’s offenses to two or fewer goals with any consistency. You have guys that can score on this team and they’re not even putting pucks toward net. You can have five number one defenders on your team and if your forwards aren’t doing their job, it doesn’t matter.