Though the St. Louis Blues won their previous game up in Winnipeg, it was not the best team performance. The Blues basically won because Jordan Binnington revealed a large S under his jersey, similar to Clark Kent.
The Blues were going to need better to get a win against Nashville on home ice. The boys in blue had plenty of jump seeing their old divison rival for the first time since early 2020.
The Blues came out and took the game right to Nashville. They were crisp, played with speed and got in on the forecheck.
This led to two first period goals. Each goal was scored by Jordan Kyrou.
The first one was an even strength goal. Kyrou got a nice feed, found himself alone in front of the net and scooped it over the goaltender’s glove.
The second was a power play goal. It was a fantastic zone entry by Robert Thomas who fed Kyrou and as Twitter was so kind to set up for me, Kyrou became KyTwo on the night.
The Blues were unfortunate not to get a goal or two more in the first period. The Predators were a team clearly holding on for the buzzer.
Unfortunately, Nashville regrouped in the second period. In less than a minute, Nashville broke in behind and beat Jordan Binnington to make it 2-1.
It seemed like no big deal. Get a few more chances the other way and the Blues would restore the two-goal lead.
That’s not how it happened. The Blues were not bad in the second period, but they were not as solid or clean as they were in the first.
Nashville capitalized on this. They tied the game when St. Louisan Luke Kunin snuck one under Binnington with 12-plus minutes left in the frame.
St. Louis did create a few chances. The best one started with a big Colton Parayko hit with around seven minutes to go, which culminated in a James Neal backhander that barely went off the goalie’s skate and wide. Still, it was a very nervous 2-2 score.
The Blues started the third pretty well. They were skating well again and creating some chances instead of just weak shots on goal.
However, as is their way, turnovers kill. About five minutes in, Marco Scandella had a brain fart and tried to send one up the middle while trailing off into his own zone.
There was a Nashville guy right there to pick it off and they scored after a couple passes.
The Blues did not hang their heads though. Despite inviting a little pressure shortly after, the Blues turned the tables.
It was another solid zone entry by Thomas, who fed Vladimir Tarasenko on the left. Tarasenko made a bull-rush move to the net and, somehow, snuck one between the goalie and the post to tie the game 3-3.
After that, it was basically a lot of back and forth. Neither team had much sustained pressure. They would get a shot and maybe a rebound, but nobody got hemmed into their zone. Eventually, the game went to overtime and it was the second OT in as many games for the Blues.
The Blues dominated the first two minutes of the extra period. They kept the puck in the Predators’ end almost the entire time, though they did keep cycling out of the zone to reestablish themselves.
In the end, it was poor defensive play that cost the Blues. On their first true possession, Nashville forced an odd-man rush after Ryan O’Reilly got caught up behind the attacking net. He did not get back in time and Parayko went down for a pass block too quickly. This led to a cross-ice pass and a finish for a 4-3 Nashville win.
Cons: Second period
I’m not sure what happened to those very early season Blues. That particular team was often at their best during the second period.
The team we have now has reverted to the type we’ve seen in recent past where you just expect them to implode in the second period. This game did not feature that implosion in terms of the actual play on the ice, but the end result was just as poor.
The Blues have been outshot in the second period as a whole in the 2021-22 season. They did manage to outshoot Nashville in this particular second period, but the scoring chances totally flipped in the Predators direction during that frame.
After two periods, the Preds had 17 shots and 16 of those were classified as scoring chances. That’s just not good enough to allow that percentage shots vs. chances.
I get it. Allowing an early goal coming out of the locker room is going to put you off your game, but it has to be mental at this point. There’s no reason the Blues should be consistently getting outplayed in the second period, regardless if it’s by a mile or just a bit.
Fans have been saying it for weeks now in the 2021-22 season, but Jordan Kyrou is starting to emerge as a top-level player. Maybe he’s not elite, whatever that means to any individual, but he’s staking a claim.
These are not just tap-in goals set up by some elite center that did all the work – no offense to Thomas, because he did a lot to push the defense back. Kyrou showed skill, precision and steadiness to score his two goals.
On the first goal, he showed patience by waiting until the goaltender committed to go down. He showed precision by scooping that up high from a pretty close angle, not putting it over the goal, but not shooting right into the glove either.
The second was just as nice, if not more so. Kyrou makes everyone think he’s going to cut through the middle. Once he gets the defender turned around, Kyrou uses the Nashville guy as a screen and pops another over the goalie’s glove hand.
It was just a shame that the two goals could not lead to a winning result.
Cons: Game-winning goal
I have come to accept that I am in the minority regarding hockey’s current overtime format. I get that it’s exciting and keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
However, the way the winning goal transpired showcases what I dislike about it so much. As soon as O’Reilly gets caught up behind the net, you just know bad things are going to happen.
O’Reilly never managed to get back to help out. Whether he did not have the energy to or thought the play would be disrupted before he got there is anyone’s guess, but that’s what happened.
Compounding that, David Perron got faked out on a simple juke up by the blue line, which led to the eventual odd-man rush into the zone. It was the culmination of a poor game by those two, who, despite leading the forwards in ice time, felt like they had no impact or a negative impact on the game.
Parayko’s flop did not look that great either. That’s what defenders do these days, but when you’re that size, it would have been preferable to go to a knee and take away the aerial space as well. Of course, that’s easy to say after the fact, but in general, Parayko had an off game as well as he and Marco Scandella were both a minus-3 on the night.
These goals happen, but it was especially disappointing because the Blues had held the puck so much and then cough up the result with one poor shift after a turnover.
Losses happen. Bad games from individuals happen.
The Blues are still in the thick of the race for the Central Division. Even the most positive Pete among Blues fans knew they weren’t going to run away with the division crown.
However, whether it’s the rivalry or just the feel of the game, this one felt more disappointing than the rest of their losses so far this year. It was there for the taking and it slipped through their fingers like sand.
You jump out to a two-goal lead and have the Predators on the ropes. The intermission saved them, but the Blues let in that early goal in the second and that seemed to shift anything.
I don’t think there was much to be done differently about that one, but it would have been nice for the period to settle in a bit before something like that happens. Instead, the Blues felt like they were playing catchup in the second despite having a lead.
They were the better team in the third period, which led them to tie the game. However, though social media acknowledged the Blues were better for two periods, that doesn’t mean anything. I’m usually the one pointing out the positives here, but it’s a results game and if you lose, you cannot be trying to look for nothing but good and saying “Well, if we just play like that, the results will come down the road.”
Win or lose, the Blues have not strung together a solid 60 minutes for weeks. They have sick players and O’Reilly seems to be suffering the after effects and just doesn’t look right.
Still, this team has had a next-man up mentality and the worry is that is falling apart like it did in 2020. It’s still a very long season and the Blues will win more than they lose, but they do need to get through this rough patch and get guys healthy.