The St. Louis Blues continue to struggle in the rhythm department due to all their missing players. With Robert Thomas out of the lineup for an undisclosed reason, St. Louis was limited to 17 skaters – 10 forwards and seven defenders.
The broadcast team continues to attempt selling us on the idea that players enjoy the extra ice time. We are not usually seeing a reason to give anyone extra time early in these contests.
The Blues were awful in the first period once again. If not for their goaltender, this game would have been out of reach before St. Louis could even think about waking up.
It feels like the Blues main focus early in these games is to do nothing but defend. If that’s their goal, they are succeeding.
The Blues only had two shots on goal by the time Florida had 13 shots. The first period ended with a 20-5 shot marker.
Ville Husso had to make several high-quality saves to bail his teammates out. Going into the locker room, you got the feeling this was going to be a very long night.
Whether it was the coach or a player, whatever was said in the locker room during the first intermission worked wonders. The Blues came out much more aggressively in the period and got the reward.
Vladimir Tarasenko sniped a tying goal within the first five minutes. It was the first non-third period goal for Tarasenko and it could not have come at a better time.
Fortunately, the Blues did not hang their heads. Later in the second period, the Blues finally got their first power play of the game and it only took them 18 seconds to capitalize.
Tarasenko continued to look fantastic. He fired a pass to the crease and Brayden Schenn banked it home to tie the game.
St. Louis played with fire all night long, continually giving the Panthers power plays, but the penalty kill was a big bright spot. The Blues turned around in the third and gained their first lead of the game in the first seven minutes of the period.
Initially, the goal was credited to Ivan Barbashev, who had been all over the ice once the team had started playing better. Upon further inspection, it was deflecte by Brandon Saad, but it was 3-2 nevertheless.
You can never count Florida out, however, as they are one of the best come from behind teams in the league. The Panthers scored on a back door play with just over five minutes left in the period making it 3-3.
Making matters worse, the Blues lost Husso after that goal. He seemed to be struggling for a few minutes, though it’s unclear when the injury actually occurred, though it seemed to go back to a wrap around attempt where Husso may have tweaked a leg or groin.
Luckily, the Blues managed to hold on and force overtime. Despite all their adversity, the Blues pulled off the win.
After just about a minute of patience, Pavel Buchnevich bull rushed the net. He charged around and stuffed in the wrap around to gain a 4-3 win.
Scott Perunovich is going to be an excellent player in the NHL. It’s early in his career right now, but he has been somewhat exposed in two games against the Panthers.
We always knew his offensive game would be good and it has been and was in this game. However, defensively, he’s just a step off.
On that first goal, he needs to be stronger or more aware. He could have lifted the stick of Barkov to avoid the chance and just didn’t. He was very frustrated by it afterward too.
Meanwhile, the rookie is not the only one making mistakes. The duo of Scandella and Parayko is struggling right now.
Both made good plays at various times during the game, but they were 50/50 at best. The boneheadedness or inability to make smart plays at times is worrying.
On the Panthers’ tying goal, Parayko may as well have strapped on goalie pads. He was screening his own netminder, so at least if Parayko had the pads on, he might have been useful.
Scandella continues to be a turnover machine too. They might not go down as statistical giveaways, but he’s not handling the puck in a beneficial way.
Though Husso did not finish this game, the Blues only win it because of him. His play in the first period alone was deserving of a pro section.
There were posts everywhere about how Husso was the only member of the Blues that came to play in the first period. His stellar play and huge saves kept the Blues in the game at a time when they had no business even being within two or three of the Panthers.
Once St. Louis found themselves, Husso continued to come up with big saves. They were not all highlight reel stops, but just that blocker save late in the second period was worth noting.
Husso finished the night with 34 saves, but that only tells half the story. The amount of high-quality chances against was just silly, but the Finnish netminder was able to stop all the ones he could.
Come the Blues next game, there will be a group of fans complaining that Tarasenko has not done enough lately. They’ll forget that, from an offensive standpoint, Tarasenko put the team on his back and sparked the come from behind.
The first goal was vintage Vladi. He took the pass on the far circle and sniped it home.
As good as his goal was, the pass to set up Schenn may have been even better. We associate Tarasenko with scoring, but forget how good a play maker he can be (though we do accuse him of passing too much).
To be able to thread that through and hit Schenn right on the tape was impressive. Additionally, started taking smart shots again, which was something that had not been part of his game of late.
Cons: Not holding the lead
This is much easier to swallow, given the fact the Blues went on to win the game. However, they allowed three goals again and could not sustain a late lead.
This is a very disturbing trend, regardless of the eventual outcome. The Blues are undermanned, which is an exuse.
Even so, it’s the lack of understanding at times. We saw the Blues in full scramble mode, diving and flailing about just moments before the tying goal.
Then, in the moment of truth, there was just a lack of situation awareness. Florida snuck a man on the back side and the defender was a step too late in realizing it.
It’s great to get the point from overtime, but the Blues need to learn to hold on in regulation.
This was a fantastic, gutsy, heartfelt win by the members of the St. Louis Blues that took the ice on this night. That said, the victory is soured by everything surrounding it.
It was a terrific performance by Tarasenko and Buchnevich. Ryan O’Reilly continued to look like the guy that started the season red hot and Schenn is finding himself a little too.
There was plenty to like about this result. However, the worry is that things have gone from bad to worse, despite the win.
Husso went out and, to be honest, I think it’s a groin. If that’s the case, the Blues are screwed for another two games.
The Blues only had 17 skaters dressed in this contest. If the salary cap was the reason for that, does that mean the Blues could potentially only dress 16 skaters when the Blues play Thursday?
Hopefully, someone will be ready to come off this stupid covid list soon or else the Blues won’t even be recognizable. Focusing solely on this night, the guys stepped up huge.
Going forward, they have to find a way to get the team we saw in the second and third periods in the first period. The slow starts just won’t cut it.