Would the real St. Louis Blues please stand up? At this point, it’s hard to tell which version is the one you can trust.
It seemed as though the team that just did not look right, that had little energy and making poor decisions was turning out to be the real version. That’s the team we saw in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The offense was non-existent again. St. Louis had seven shots in the period, but they were stuck on three for the longest time until the end of the frame.
St. Louis was really thrown off by taking a penalty in the first minute of the game. If they were going to have any cohesion and flow, it was completely thrown off.
Though the Blues killed that penalty off, they would not turn away Columbus a second time. Though the call was questionable at best, the defending was not great on the goal as Colton Parayko was not even close to the man in front of the net who tipped the puck.
The Blues were somewhat fortunate to not give up another one. Though Columbus only had seven shots as well, they had 21 chances toward net, putting on a lot more pressure.
For whatever reason, the intermission did the Blues a world of good. They tied the game just 58 seconds into the second period, with Vladimir Tarasenko driving to the net.
Not even a full minute later, the Blues grabbed the lead. This time it was a fine finish by the hot Ivan Barbashev.
The Blues failed to convert on two power plays, but they continued to dominate for most of the period. The Blues grabbed a two-goal lead when Ryan O’Reilly sprang Jordan Kyrou who scored on a nice backhand on the breakaway.
It would have been nice to get an extra one going into the third. Still, the turnaround from the first to the second was quite striking.
Unfortunately, a late second period penalty came back to bite them. St. Louis killed off all the penalty in the second and most in the third, but Columbus beat Ville Husso over the shoulder with just seconds left on the man advantage.
The Blues kept their foot on the gas. Thomas was denied on a partial break, but moments later hit Buchnevich with a fantastic backhand pass to set up his second goal and a 5-2 lead.
Kyrou got shut down on his own breakaway. Just moments after that, Barbashev got his second on a breakaway and it was 6-2.
Cons: First period
You could easily blame the poor period on that early period. There was literally no time to settle into the game when you have to focus on killing a penalty that fast.
That’s not an excuse, but it contributes. The Blues were already playing with an odd roster, going with 11 forwards and seven defenders, which causes line confusion as it is.
St. Louis never had a chance to settle into that because they spent two of the first three minutes killing a penalty. Nevertheless, that doesn’t excuse the absence of a rebound afterward.
The Blues finally got a little groove at the end of the period, but the lack of any offense was discouraging. When you had two third period shots in Chicago and, initially, three against Columbus through much of the first, it’s worrying.
Not only was there a lack of offense overall, but the guys just weren’t there. Yeah, they were on the ice, but the whole scheme just didn’t seem to be clicking.
Pros: Second period
As poor as the first period was for much of the 20 minutes, it was just as good or better in the second. The offense came to life and got more physical as well.
The hit totals did not show it, but the Blues were putting on the pressure and getting Columbus out of sorts. Why this can’t be the Blues we see the vast majority of the time is puzzling.
Even so, the way they played, scoring three goals was fantastic. The fact the Blues could and should have had more was even more encouraging.
This line has been very good ever since it was established. To be honest, the pairing of Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko has been excellent, regardless of the stats.
That duo just works very well off one another and compliments what the other does. Having a guy like Buchnevich who will bull rush the net just adds a further dynamic.
The goals were just the icing on the cake. All three were putting in the work to get things done.
Tarasenko was everywhere. He won’t get the credit he deserves, but he had three helpers and was a major reason why each goal got scored, especially the first where he got the primary assist.
Tarasenko was just rushing around, but in a good way, all night. Without him, those goals don’t come about.
The same is true of Thomas. While he was as bad as anyone in the first, he returned to early-season form in the second and beyond. His shooting still stinks, but he can put the puck on a pin with his passing.
What was so impressive about Buchnevich is the combination of pace and patience. He simply bullied the defender to get a stick on the puck for his first goal. His second, he had the wherewithal to settle the puck and lift it in instead of freaking out and jamming it into the goalie’s pad.
When this line is hot, the Blues are going to be hard to beat.
Cons: Not clamping down
This one is admittedly picky, but you have to find something to complain about, right? Even when you score six goals, not everything is always rosie.
This is more joking around than anything, but the reality is that the Blues didn’t keep it cozy and comfortable the entire way. A three-goal win is perfectly fine, but it’s not as comfy as a four or five-goal lead.
The second goal, Husso was partially screened by his own defenseman, which is another thing the Blues are guilty of too much. The third goal, Husso will want to have back as he saw it well enough to probably snag it with the glove, though it was well placed.
None of these are anything to yell about. But, when you give up three, your offense has to get it done to get a win. It would just be nice to only allow one or two.
Overall, this was a really good win. There is still plenty to clean up and learn from and we should be sure that Craig Berube will not let those teaching moments go by the wayside.
We should not let this offensive explosion go unnoticed though. Whatever was said by whomever in the locker room between the first and second period, it really hit the spot.
The entire team was just on their toes and looked like they had enough. There was no more hangdog attitude regarding all the injuries and sicknesses.
They came out, established their game instead of trying to counteract their opponent and we saw the results. The Blues need to stop trying to play according to who is on the other side and do what they need to do.
The Tarasenko, Thomas and Buchnevich line was amazing. The combinations were mixed, but the whatever teammates were with Barbashev were on point as well.
Ville Husso was another bright spot in this game. Statistically, it won’t go down as a great night with three goals against on 27 shots, but he made some big ones.
The main focus for the Blues now has to be getting a complete game. You can’t have this one period off or half a game that’s completely different from the other half.
The Blues have tough games against the Florida teams coming up. Let’s hope we see the team from the second period in this game in those games and nothing else.