The St. Louis Blues had a hot start and a poor finish in their season opener in Colorado. While they still wanted the same end result, it seemed as though they wanted to reverse how they obtained it.
The first period for the Blues against the Arizona Coyotes was pretty poor. St. Louis played well for brief spurts, but as an overall 20 minutes, it was not good.
The Blues allowed way too many shots against from a bad team. We can talk all about the Coyotes record against St. Louis and how no team in the NHL is a pushover, but the Coyotes pretty much gave up on the season during the 2021 offseason. They still have some stars, but they’re going to be years away from contention.
Nevertheless, they had some typical success against the Blues. In fact, the Coyotes grabbed the lead to open things.
The Blues took a silly delay of game penalty. Sure, it happens, but it seems to happen to the Blues too much.
St. Louisan Clayton Keller continued his ownership of his hometown team, scoring on the ensuing powerplay. Thankfully, the lead did not last too long.
A few shifts after the first goal, Brayden Schenn forced a turnover. This led to a two-on-one and Jordan Kyrou set up Pavel Buchnevich for his first goal of the season.
Sadly, the good feelings for Buchnevich didn’t last too long. In the last two minutes of the period, Buchnevich got crosschecked and retaliated with a headbutt, leading to a five-minute major and a match penalty.
In the second period, the Blues managed to kill off the eventual three-minute Coyotes power play, but had to play the rest of the game without a key forward. Though the PK was solid, the Blues got caught puck watching as the man came out of the box and the Coyotes went tic-tac-toe for a goal and a 2-1 lead.
Robert Bortuzzo took a dumb interference penalty shortly after that. The Blues did kill that off, but they were scrambling for too much of it.
St. Louis took advantage of their own power play, however. After a solid first shift came up empty, the second unit wasted little time, with Justin Faulk firing one in for a 2-2 game after a scramble play in front.
Then, the Blues exploded. After the Faulk goal, the Blues scored four goals in under four minutes.
Jordan Kyrou scored two, Klim Kostin banged in two as well and, suddenly, it was 6-2 in a game that St. Louis looked like it was going to get schooled in.
The penalties continued in the third. Kostin took a holding call and the Coyotes jammed in a rebound with both Blues defenders just looking silly. It was not a power play goal, but with the player just coming out of the box, it was essentially still five-on-four.
The poor finishing continued for the Blues. The pinball effect has not been in the Blues favor, but the Coyotes caught them again and made it 6-4 with around 11 minutes to go in the third.
A timeout by Craig Berube seemed to have a positive effect. St. Louis allowed a few nervy moments, but had some good shifts.
A charge by the trio of Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko got them back on their feet. After some good chances, Thomas eventually set up Barbashev in the slot for a one-timer and a 7-4 lead.
St. Louis didn’t finish things as cleanly as you would like, but for the second straight game, they got it done.
Pros: Blues first goal
The two-on-one break for the first goal of the game was pretty in and of itself. Kyrou showed his skill by drawing everyone in with the threat of a shot.
Then, the touch he put on the pass to get it over the defender and right onto the tape was nice. The snipe from Buchnevich was clinical.
While he will not get credit for an assist, Schenn was responsible for that goal. If he does not dig in and steal that puck away, the goal never happens.
It’s those little things that Schenn does that don’t appear in the box score, but help the Blues to wins
Cons: Idiotic penalties
Penalties happen in every game. If you could avoid them, you’d love to, but sometimes you need to take them. As odd as it sounds, there is such a thing as a good penalty.
For the first half of the game, none of the penalties the Blues took were anything even resembling smart. They were quite the opposite – idiotic.
The delay of game penalty is what it is. You swat at the puck and you’re never really going to know where it ends up. However, it just felt as though it was unnecessary at the time and led to the eventual first goal of the contest.
The Buchnevich penalty is inexcusable. If he does not get suspended, he will be quite fortunate.
While it is easy to say you cannot retaliate when you’re in the safety of your couch, it is true. It is one thing to take a jab or even crosscheck back, but to headbutt someone? There’s no way to hide that and, quite frankly, Buchnevich deserved to be kicked out.
Bortuzzo’s penalty shortly after all of the penalties expired was just as silly. He can complain all he wants, but he interfered with the guy. I get that you’re a tough guy, but sometimes it’s better not to make the hit when you know the puck wasn’t there any more.
Kostin’s penalty in the third was avoidable as well. It was not a terrible penalty and, technically, did not lead to a power play goal against, but with the Coyotes scoring right after the man was out of the box, it put St. Louis in a bad position.
Blues history, such as early success for Robert Thomas, makes you want to be hesitant to latch onto a young player. However, Jordan Kyrou might be better than any of us have given him credit for.
If, and it is a big if, he continues to play the way we have seen at the beginning of 2021 and the start of 2021-22, this guy can reach for the stars. I had him as a solid 20-goal scorer, but he may actually be that 30-goal scorer that the Blues need.
Kyrou was part of the Blues best line in the first period and had that pretty, saucer assist on Buchnevich’s goal. He was even better in the second period.
Kyrou picked up another helper on Faulk’s goal. Then, he had to fantastic goals. The first was great and the second was as pretty as you’ll ever see.
You don’t want to get too overhyped, but this kid has the potential to be a true star.
Cons: The finish
In sports, you look for trends. The worry with the Blues after two games is their inability to hold a lead.
They won, and that’s important. However, for the second game in a row, the Blues gave up too much territory and did too much standing around in the third period.
You can view the goals in two ways. You can say that Binnington had no chance on any of them, so if they clean things up, the goals don’t go in. It can also be viewed as Binnington did not have any chance, which is indicative of something wrong in front of him. The defense needs to do a better job to deny pucks earlier in plays so that Binnington can either make a save or the shot never happens.
Additionally, it was worrying to see how fatigued the Blues looked. You’ll never have energy for all 82 games, but this is just the second game of the year and the Blues had an off day in between.
There were a lot of lazy plays and statue-skating, slow changes. That’s going to cost you in the long run.
Copy and paste. The start was not near as good as in Colorado, but the second period was much better.
In the end, you get the same result. You take the win and are very happy with the offense, but the overall performance for 60 minutes is troubling.
The Blues are relying too heavily on these offensive outbursts. Those won’t be there every single night. Eventually, they need to get their defense and penalty kill figured out.
Statistically, the penalty kill looks fine, but they allowed one power play goal and two other ones happened right after the guy got out of the box. There’s just too much standing around instead of attacking.
Overall, you take the win and go to Vegas. St. Louis better find another gear though, or they’ll get lit up by the Golden Knights. You can’t make these same mistakes there.