In their last game, we pondered what version of the St. Louis Blues is the real version. Despite defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, we saw all sorts of great and awful things in that game.
Sadly, it was not much different against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, the game started off about as poorly as it could.
Just two minutes and change into the first period, Tampa grabbed the lead. After making some early saves and doing a belly flop, neither Jordan Binnington nor his defenders could gain control of the puck and eventually it was jammed in after a post shot.
Tampa scored a power play goal a little over three minutes later. Then, disaster.
On the ensuing faceoff, Tampa won it, flung the puck into the zone and scored. The puck took a near impossible bounce off the glass partition and then deflected in off of Binnington who never would’ve anticipated that bounce in a hundred years.
Oddly, the Blues managed to clamp down after that. Despite allowing 14 shots early in the period, the Blues did not allow a shot for the final 9:23 of the period.
The Blues failed to capitalize on their own first period chances though. Despite a dominating flurry of activity to end the frame, it was still 3-0.
The Blues ended the period on a power play, but failed to connect on some passes that would’ve set up open looks. Starting on the power play in the third payed off though.
This time, it was Ivan Barbashev with the finish. Scott Perunovich continued to make a case to stay even once everyone is healthy, picking up his third assist of the year after drawing the defenders to him before making the dish for the one-timer.
The game eventually went to overtime and it didn’t start well. After a couple pushes into the offensive zone, the Blues got careless in their own and took a penalty.
The Blues managed to kill that off. The game went to a shootout, which has not always been kind to the Blues.
St. Louis went on to win it though. O’Reilly got the only goal and Binnington stopped all three shots to earn a win.
Cons: Another bad start
It has to be heavily noted that all the bounces at the start of the game went Tampa’s way. It’s a fact.
That doesn’t excuse three goals allowed in under four minutes of play.
On the first goal, nobody can anticipate the bounce off the post and it’s hard to defend these days since you cannot rough guys up when the puck is not there. Even so, there needs to be more done to keep guys from jamming away at your goalie while he’s down.
The third goal probably does not deserve as much flak as Binnington received since there’s no reason to figure that bounces the way it does. That said, Binnington has not looked quite himself in recent games, so this was not a great confidence builder for those on the outside.
Pros: Another comeback
The one thing we have come to expect, if not borderline demand, is that the Blues will find a way to battle back.
The weird thing about this team is that as much as they have poor runs of play, they usually find a way to right the ship. The main question is whether they will finish off the comeback.
This contest was not really even a tale of two halves. The Blues had a poor 10 minutes to start and then got going. Frankly, the Blues could have had a lead by the time the third period began.
St. Louis continues to generate quality chances and not capitalize on them. Still, the finishes they did make were good.
O’Reilly kept his composure and flipped one over the pad. Brown utilized a partial screen to sneak one through. Barbashev just powered one in.
There are ebbs and flows to every game, but if only we could get the comeback version of the Blues all the time.
Compared to the overall online reaction, I was not quite as sour on Binnington as many in the sphere. That said, he just did not look all that comfortable at the start of the game.
Binnington has not been to blame for recent results, but he has allowed the occasional goal that can be a back breaker. He had some bad bounces against him, but his rebound control was not as good as you might like either.
That said, if you blame him for the early-game woes, you have to give him the props for the win. After the third goal went in, Binnington made 20-plus saves in a row and stopped 30 overall.
In addition, he made the stops in the shootout. Just about a month ago, he got made a fool of in the shootout, but this time around, he’s become a hard man to beat.
The one shot he looked bad on, keeping his blocker way too low, managed to hit the post. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Jekyll and Hyde, just about every game. That’s what we get out of the St. Louis Blues.
As long as they get the result, that’s what matters. Sometimes these resilient wins can give you a mental boost when things get tough in the second half of the season or in the playoffs. You know you’ve already been through it.
For fans, it’s just frustrating. It’s great to win, but why does it seem to require a come from behind more often than not – that’s a feeling, not a stat.
Still, if you eliminate the bad bounces and the first ten minutes, the Blues were the better team by quite a bit. It’s not always the case, but the Blues deserved the two points in this game.
St. Louis won’t be able to have a poor start the next time around. They play Tampa in Tampa for the next game and the Bolts will want revenge.