Apparently, making the playoffs was the only real concern for the St. Louis Blues this week. Even though the lineup was almost the exact same as the night prior, other than the goaltender, the Blues played as though they could not care less about winning their last game against Vegas.
Vegas had plenty to play for, given that they were trying to hold on to the top spot in the Honda West Division. While they were doing some decent things, it was not as though they were swarming the Blues at all.
St. Louis just had nothing to offer. In the first period, they did not get their first shot on goal until over 16 minutes had been played. For those that forgot, there’s 20 minutes in a period, so the first was close to over by the time they actually hit the target.
Despite not generating a bunch of chances, Vegas ended the first period up 2-0. The first goal was nothing but luck as it banked in off an unaware Jaden Schwartz’ skate.
The second goal was just unnecessary. With the Blues on the power play, David Perron attempted a really stupid slap pass from his own zone toward the attacking blue line.
It was easily intercepted and Vegas came down and scored a shorthanded goal. You can make a case the shot should have been stopped, but it never should have even happened.
The second period was just as poor, overall. The Blues just had nothing to offer offensively until the very end.
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Frankly, if not for their own goaltending in the second period, the game would have been far out of reach. Ville Husso is the only reason the Blues remained in the game after 40 minutes.
Despite some hot garbage officiating in the second period, the Blues managed to poach one at the very end of the period. While the game was four-on-four, Colton Parayko managed to squeeze one in on the backhander to make it 2-1 going into the third.
Despite the good fortune, the Blues could not gain any momentum coming out of the intermission. They kept taking penalties and it ended up costing them as the Golden Knights regained a two-goal lead with a power play goal.
The Blues started showing a little more life as the third period went on, but it was too little, too late. There simply was not enough offense and Vegas was too comfortable.
The Blues best chance was a missed empty net by Ryan O’Reilly, which just showed how their night went. Another example of how the night went was the odd turnover that led to an empty net goal for Vegas.
Justin Faulk just panicked and flung the puck east to west through the neutral zone. Vegas picked up the loose change and deposited it in the net for a 4-1 win.
Cons: Power play
The Blues played a bad game all throughout, but if their special teams could have helped out, maybe they eek out some kind of result. Instead, it was just as poor as the rest of this game.
To their credit, they still were not as awful as we had seen during the early portion of the season. They did have zone time and put a couple pucks on.
Neverthless, when you have the game at 2-1, or even when it was 3-1, and you go 0-3 on the power play, you cost yourself a chance to tie or get back into the game.
The penalties called or not called throughout this game were a joke. The officiating honestly seems to get worse as the season goes on.
Regardless of that, you have to capitalize if the refs are going to give you a gift. The Blues could not and it was part of the reason they didn’t get anything out of this game.
Fans love to pick on Blues goaltenders. If we are being fair, the way the first goal went in was frustrating and maybe you’d like to see Husso find a way to stop the second Vegas goal.
However, when your team doesn’t score, it doesn’t matter. Jordan Binnington has as many shutouts as Husso, which is to say both have zero shutouts. You’re not going to win scoring one goal.
The fact the game was even close is only because Husso actually played very well, especially in the second period. Vegas was the better team through the entire 60 minutes and this should have been a 5-1 or 6-1 loss.
The Blues still had a shot to tie it because of their goaltender. To pretend otherwise is simply to show bias against a player because of your own opinion.
Anyone who blames this game on Husso doesn’t know what they’re talking about. No, he was not perfect, but the Blues don’t win this game no matter who is in net. You have to score.
Cons: Another injury
It’s too early to speculate, but I’d bet that Ivan Barbashev is done for the regular season, if not for good. IF the Blues are lucky, and that’s a big if, maybe it was just a tweak but the way he went down and could not extend his left leg at the end of the third period, I’d say he blew out a knee.
Again, that is pure speculation. We will know more on Sunday or maybe Monday.
However, when there was no contact that caused the injury and the player cannot get onto his leg or extend it – it’s just not likely to be something that’ll be ok. The amount of injuries the Blues have sustained in 2021 is just ridiculous.
You can make the argument that Barbashev is just a third or fourth line player, but like Oskar Sundqvist, he’s a heartbeat player. The Blues need his energy and physicality and if he’s out for any sustained period, it’s another nail in the coffin on this season.
Some fans are going to brush this game off as the Blues just trying to get through it and move toward the playoffs. That’s foolish.
2020 proved that this incarnation of the Blues does not have the ability to just flip the switch. If they’re playing poorly or not giving 100% effort going into the playoffs, that’s going to carry over.
Unless something weird happens, the Blues are playing Vegas in the first round. Don’t try to say they sent a message with the hits because those amounted to nothing.
Nobody on Vegas was beat up. The Blues never came away with the puck from most of the hits too, so what was the point?
The Blues had 21 shots on goal by the time the final horn sounded. That’s not terrible, but over half of those came in the third period and the majority of those came when the team already trailed 3-1.
You cannot just turn it on against this opponent. If the Blues are going to beat Vegas, they have to hit the ice running and never relent.
They relented almost from the drop of the first puck. They’re beat up and tired, but if that’s the excuse now, then don’t expect it to be any different in a week or so when the playoffs begin.