The St. Louis Blues came into their 15th game of the season having lost three games in a row. The odd thing is they were rarely outplayed an entire 60 minutes in those games.
The Blues were the better team at times in all three games, but took their eye off the ball in too many late situations, whether that be in periods, power plays or at the very end of the game. Nevertheless, the end results spoke for themselves whether you wanted to think of the game play as decent or bad.
So, with the Arizona Coyotes in town, the Blues hoped facing the league’s worst team would clear up some of their problems. It’s never quite that easy against the desert dogs.
The Blues have struggled to score the first goal in recent games and that trend continued. St. Louis allowed the first goal of the contest against Arizona in this game.
Despite having a power play themselves, the Blues failed to score on three shots. The Coyotes got the same amount of shots on their first man advantage, but got a screened goal with one second left in their power play.
The Blues pushed back, as they have become accustomed to. With two minutes and change left in the first, Jordan Kyrou scored and Ryan O’Reilly got a big assist and his first point since October.
The second period was too much like the first, but worse. The Blues just sort of went through the motions, except a shift here or there.
Arizona got the first goal of the second period as well. An awful turnover in the Blues zone directly led to a goal against, putting the Coyotes up 2-1.
St. Louis would tie the game almost four minutes later. Torey Krug scored in his first game returning from covid-protocol.
You would assume the Blues would turn the gas on and claim the game in the third period. Instead, they let Arizona hang around and the Coyotes took the lead again.
A deflected puck in front beat Jordan Binnington with just over six minutes to go in regulation. The Blues were relying far too much on their ability to come back multiple times.
It was not a wise strategy because you cannot expect to find a comeback goal every single time. The Blues put on the press late in this game, but ran out of time.
It was a disappointing result, not only because of the opponent, but how the Blues played. They were not bad, but this was a game they had no business losing either.
The Blues have now lost four in a row and will look to turn things around against the San Jose Sharks.
The Blues outshot their opponent. They also had more power plays than the Coyotes.
In theory, you would think that means they outworked Arizona. The Blues are a team with more skill and better overall players, but that was definitely not the case.
As mentioned, the Blues were not bad, but they played like a team that knew their opponent only had one win on the season. From a human nature standpoint, that’s understandable.
However, instead of playing like you know they have one win, you need to play like you don’t want to be the team to give them their second. The Blues did not do that.
One goal was on the power play and another was a lucky deflection. Even so, the Blues simply did not outwork Arizona.
The turnover that led to their second goal was a great example. It was just lazy and sloppy.
That encapsulated the Blues on this night. They thought it would be easy and it bit them.
Pros: Battle back
The odd thing about the Blues in their four losses is that they keep managing to fight back. They don’t just roll over and let their opponent take the game.
That’s kind of something to hang their hat on. However, it’s not a good thing to keep needing to battle back.
Still, while we are all disappointed or sad or angry about the end result, you have to admire a team that keeps at it. The Blues could easily use covid or injury or having guys out of the lineup for whatever reason and the roster upheaval as excuses and they don’t.
Kyrou kept up his hot streak. Even though he should have scored minutes before he actually did, he did not just look to the sky in despair. He kept his nose in there and tied the game.
Krug could have just settled into the game and said he needed to get his legs under him. Instead, he played one of his better games of the year and got another tying goal.
If there was another five minutes, the Blues likely tie it a third time.
As a fan of the game, you try to respect all opponents. The worst players in the NHL are still better than most players from any other league in the world.
That said, despite a couple high-end players, the Coyotes are not a good team. The Blues simply had no business losing to them.
Scott Wedgewood had a good game, but the Blues were not doing enough little things. Even when they did the little things, they didn’t do it quite right.
St. Louis had bodies in front of goal, but rarely got any rebound chances, especially late in the game. More often than not, it’s because they didn’t have their sticks in lanes or on the ice. They were letting the defenders keep their sticks too far up in their air, rendering them useless.
The decision making in this game left a lot to be desired too. While both had plenty of good shifts and created a lot, Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas also made plenty of bad plays.
Thomas coughed the puck up when Arizona scored their second goal. Tarasenko tried an odd pirouette in the third period, turning the puck over, instead of just driving the net.
The defense was not bad either, but they failed to clear the front of the net too. The power play goal went through cleanly, but Binnington didn’t see it. The third goal was deflected, but there are ways to keep those from happening.
You can only say it’s one loss and they can rebound in the next one. Regardless of opponent, this is a similar result for far too many games.
As mentioned, it was not a terrible loss in terms of how the game went. It’s terrible because of the opponent.
The Blues are pretty healthy now. They’re out of excuses now.