The St. Louis Blues needed a big performance to put the sour taste left from their overtime loss in St. Paul, but the team had a bad habit of playing up or down to their opponent. Due to some unknown opponents, the Blues continued that trend against the Anaheim Ducks.
Lots of things were working against the Blues heading into this game. The Blues just have not been good at home, overall, and the road team had won 14 of the last 15 between the Blues and Ducks prior to the 50th game of the Blues season.
You kind of got the sense things weren’t going quite right in the first period. Due to the season being lost, the Ducks were playing several young guys that the Blues had never seen and this threw St. Louis off completely.
While the Ducks only managed two first period shots, they had the better of the chances. If they had been able to hit the target, Anaheim could very well have been up after 20 minutes. Instead, it was a tie game.
The Blues took less than six minutes to find the back of the net in the second period. It was a power play goal too, keeping the special teams unit red hot.
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Unfortunately, the Ducks only needed 6:17 to score themselves. Allowing the tying goal 25 seconds later is not conducive to winning games, just in case that’s not clear.
In the third period, the Blues got off to a good start. After working the puck behind the net, they found Robert Bortuzzo in the deep slot and he scored Brett Hull-style, down on one knee.
Like the previous goal, the Blues got sloppy immediately after that but did not surrender a goal this time around. Once they regained their footing, they generated a couple odd-man rushes, but could not score on them.
The Blues did an ok job of pushing into the offensive zone and limiting chances against in the third period. Still, it felt like this was going to be another contest where all it took was one, lucky bounce against them and then it would head to overtime.
That seemed especially true when the Blues failed to convert on an empty net chance with about two minutes left. Fortunately, they got another crack at it and Ryan O’Reilly scooped in a rainbow shot for a 3-1 win.
Pros: Power play
The second power play the Blues had was not stunning, but they did a pretty good job. Sadly, when our basis for comparison was how awful the PP was at the early part of the year, anything looks great when held up next to that.
They moved the puck around and got things flowing pretty good. The second unit was not quite as strong as we’re used to seeing, but there’s been so much fluctuation of personnel due to injuries that it’s amazing they stayed hot.
The first one was the one that struck though. Unlike most power play goals, this one actually came off the rush. A good push through the neutral zone got the defense on their heels.
After crossing the line, Jaden Schwartz found Brayden Schenn with a little saucer pass. Schenn finished it off with a snapper just past the blocker side and scored the first of the game.
The power play was not world beaters in this game, but they contributed. That’s what you need from your special teams units.
Statistically, the Blues had fewer giveaways than the Ducks did. Even by that standard, St. Louis hit double digits on the giveaway counter.
10 giveaways is bad enough, but you know there were even more turnovers than that by non-statistical counting since nobody really knows what the NHL considers a giveaway. Beyond just the numbers, it’s where it all happened.
St. Louis is just so careless around the blue lines. That’s the absolute worst spot to cough it up because your entire team is going the wrong way and not expecting it.
The goal against was a perfect example. It’s a play that happens dozens of times in a game, but one bad pass made it about as bad a play as you can imagine.
Sammy Blais pressed up the wing from his own zone, gained the line and then tried to slide it to Colton Parayko in the middle. Regardless of the fact Parayko has one of the longest sticks in the game, Blais did not lead him at all and hit his teammate in the skates.
There was no way for the big man to react and Ryan Getzlaf was there to clean up the spilled milk. There was no reason that goal needed to happen if the pass is better or Blais just chips is up the wall.
That was just one example.
David Perron might not look back on this game as his most productive or highly skilled game, but he played a hard game. It was the 900th game of his career and 600th with the Blues.
To reach those numbers, by themselves, is a feat. The fact that Perron also picked up his 600th career point (400th with the Blues) is quite the accomplishment.
It’s almost eerie how all those numbers lined up. To score your 600th point in your 900th game and also have it be the exact night you get your 400th point in your 600th game with the Blues is mind bogglingly fantastic.
The funny thing is there was nothing special about the pass. It’s just a simple zone exit to a teammate and he gets a career milestone because of it.
If anything, the blocked shot he had moments earlier was more important. Nevertheless, congratulations to French Toast.
A win is a win and it put the Blues up by five points in the standings (depending on Arizona’s result against Los Angeles). However, we cannot pretend this was a clean win.
The Blues played quite sloppy throughout and never looked comfortable. They were playing against plenty of unknowns, so some credit goes to the kids for Anaheim.
Like hitters that pitchers have no film on, they went right at the Blues and had a lot of energy to them. The Blues kind of backed into the win as much on the fact that Anaheim couldn’t capitalize as they did their own merits.
But, it’s a win. The Blues don’t need to worry how it happened as long as it happened.
Craig Berube can do whatever he needs to to make sure those mistakes don’t happen come playoff time, but for now you only care about the two points. Get two more on Wednesday and maybe a playoff spot will be clinched. Time will tell.