St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021-22 Game 26 Vs Detroit

St. Louis Blues left wing Nathan Walker (26)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues left wing Nathan Walker (26)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The St. Louis Blues continued to be forced to roll with the punches in their 26th game of the season. After defeating the Florida Panthers in the last game, they lost Ville Husso and Jake Walman to injury.

Those names pushed the covid/injury list to nine players missing for the Blues. Even though St. Louis recalled Nathan Walker and signed Jon Gilles, the Blues still had to play one skater short due to cap restrictions.

Despite all these set backs, the Blues managed to get a good start against their former rival, the Detroit Red Wings. Even then, it was an odd first period.

The Blues managed to generate a lot of early pressure, but only had one shot on goal despite several quality looks. After that, the Blues sustained a lot of pressure.

The Red Wings swung the shot totals the other direction, 5-3, and forced some good saves from Charlie Lindgren.

While the entire roster had a decent first period, the Blues were led by their role players. Logan Brown, Dakota Joshua and Nathan Walker were all flying around the ice.

It would be the Aussie, Walker, to get the Blues on the board first. He simply sent one on goal from just above the right circle and it snuck through the legs of the previously unbeatable Alex Nedeljkovic for a 1-0 lead.

The Blues kept their foot on the gas, though they came up empty handed on two consecutive power plays. The oddness continued as Walker got another one. This time, it was from the left circle and the little snap shot floated just under the glove and over the pad. It was 2-0 Blues after 20 minutes.

That lead didn’t last overly long, however. In the first five minutes of the third, it was former Blue Robby Fabbri to cut the lead in half.

The shot was almost unstoppable, popping over the left shoulder of the goalie. The clear shooting lane was created by an unexpected tip pass when the defender thought the initial puck carrier would take it behind the net.

The Blues did an ok job of rebounding after that goal. Still, their power play came up empty in the second as well.

It seemed as though the period would come to an end with a 2-1 score, but the Blues had other plans. Niko Mikkola fired a strong shot in from the point, it leaked through the goaltender again and Colton Parayko tucked in the loose puck before Nedeljkovic could fall on it.

Not only did the Blues gain a two-goal lead, but they also chased the Red Wings goalie. Nedeljkovic finished the period, but Thomas Greiss started the third.

St. Louis would not score early, despite some early chances to test Greiss. That didn’t matter as they added to their lead in short succession midway through.

Walker got his hat trick goal on a deflected puck from the point. Then Ivan Barbashev deflected one in just moments later to nab a 5-1 lead.

Fabbri was gifted a breakaway with under five to go in the third, making it 5-2. The Red Wings pulled their goalie not long after that.

The Blues had a couple looks and charges at the empty net and came up empty. They would score, but it was an unlikely goal from Marco Scandella from about 190 feet away.

Ultimately, the Blues got their 14th win of he season. It was a fun 6-2 game.

Pros: Walker

Walker is one of those interesting case studies. Ever since he joined the Blues, he’s lightning in a bottle, but it’s short lived.

As with any player that gets a brief look, Walker is going to have his fans. He’s a firecracker that always brings the energy, as he did in this contest.

Oddly, Walker always seems to score in his first game or two with the Blues in any season. In 2019-20, he had a goal and an assist in five games and his goal came in his second game.

It took him a little longer in 2020-21, scoring a goal in his fifth game of eight. He wasted little time getting going in this one.

Both first period shots should have been stopped. There’s little denying that, but as The Great One used to say, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Walker just got pucks on net and it paid off. He took advantage of a suddenly leaky goaltender.

The third goal was really nice. Despite being small for the NHL, Walker was set up in front of the goalie and had a glorious tip on a shot that was going wide to get his hat trick.

Walker is never going to be an every day NHL player. It’s just not in the cards no matter how hard he plays.

However, the guy is typical St. Louis. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and finds ways to make an impact every time. He got his just desserts in this one.

Cons: Power play

The Blues always find interesting ways to have issues. Their power play was one of the downers in this game, though only due to results.

We have seen the Blues look far worse on the power play than they did against Detroit. There have been games in this season, mainly early, where they looked incapable of making a pass, let alone score a goal.

That was not the case in this game. The Blues moved the puck just fine against the Red Wings.

However, they returned to that slightly aggravating habit of making one pass too many. This limited their opportunities for shots with the man advantage.

Pros: Lindgren

If backup goalies are everyone’s favorite player, third string goalies must be Hall of Famers, right? Ok, that’s a step too far, but Lindgren was very good in this game.

Only two goals got past him and there was not much he could do about either. The only way to stop the first Fabbri goal was to be slightly further out of his crease, but it happened too quick to make much of an adjustment.

The second goal was just a quality finish on a breakaway. In the end, Lindgren made the saves he should have and a couple tough ones as well.

This was more than enough to give the team a boost. Plenty of fans, including myself, had their reservations about Lindgren going into this game.

One game is not going to mean he’s suddenly a steady NHL goalie. He came up big when the team needed it most and that’s what you want from any depth player, especially a netminder.

Overview

Some people will say it’s just Detroit and the Red Wings run hot and cold as it is. Given the amount, and quality, of players the Blues are missing right now, any and all wins are good.

What was impressive about the Blues is that they did not just hang around and pick up a couple lucky chances. They took the game right to Detroit and never really looked like handing it back.

Sure, things were a little nervy when the game became 2-1. Anything can happen at that point.

St. Louis just picked up their hard hat and went right back to work afterward.

The Blues got good games from almost everyone. Vladimir Tarasenko probably should have had an empty net goal once or twice, but he continues to look rejuvenated by this all Russian line. Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich also look great and Ryan O’Reilly continues to just lead by example.

Next. MacInnis' career ended too early. dark

What was fun about this game is it didn’t look like the Blues were just surviving. They were thriving in spite of all the bad hands dealt to them.

Whether that is sustainable for another handful of games before players return is unclear. For tonight, it was what we got and we all loved it.