The St. Louis Blues playing a new team for the first time is a rare occurrence and something that does not come along very often. However, despite a few fans being excited here or there, this game did not have much of a special feel.
As far as the on ice product, it started off sloppy and both teams were mostly plodding through the opening minutes. Though we never like to hear excuses, both teams had one for this.
Seattle played a hard game in Dallas the night before and were winless in their last seven games. The Blues were already short manned and found out Logan Brown would not play in the midafternoon, forcing them to dress seven defensemen.
You could tell the updated lines were not clicking at all. Nobody looked comfortable or like they had a clue where their teammate might be.
The Blues were making poor passing choices as well. In addition to blind, backhand passes to the wrong team, the Blues also butchered a three-on-one by attempting too many passes in close to the goal.
St. Louis still seemed like the better team for awhile, but their sloppiness was gifting Seattle far too many looks. Ville Husso bailed out the Blues time after time as the first period went along.
Eventually, even his luck ran out. With five minutes left in the first, the Kraken struck first.
The second was much like the first. Very little speak of and reliance on Husso again.
The Blues won the shot battle in the second period, but it rarely felt like they were on the cusp of scoring. Despite having three power plays in the second period alone, the Blues were not much on the net in terms of high danger chances.
Seattle began the third with a partial power play after drawing the penalty in the final minute of the second. St. Louis killed that and then finally started looking like the Blues we’re used to.
St. Louis kept up their intensity and drew another penalty. The fifth time was a charm.
Instead of trying to make 50 passes, the Blues got it down low quickly and broke apart the defense. It was Pavel Buchnevich to finish off the fast-moving play with a shot from the slot and St. Louis had a 2-1 lead four minutes after their first goal.
Cons: Power play
Similarly to the Dallas game, a late power play goal made things feel a little better. However, 12 seconds does not erase the previous eight minutes.
On that fifth power play, we got what we expect from the Blues power play. That’s why it only took 12 seconds to score against a defensively suspect team.
In the previous four opportunities, the Blues just looked bad, plain and simple. It was very reminiscent of the impotent power play we had seen in recent years past instead of the one that has been near the upper portion of the league this year.
The Blues were passing so much that even I had to side with the crowd members that were frustratingly shouting “shoot”. If the Blues were not passing it too much, they struggled to gain the zone, which is something that is becoming more regular if/when the Blues don’t win the in-zone faceoff.
Not only were they not generating many chances, but even the shots were not there. The Blues only had three shots on their first two power plays and it wasn’t much better on the second two.
For the second game in a row, the Blues relied heavily on their goaltender to bail them out. They needed Jordan Binnington to keep them in the game until the final minute of play against Dallas.
They didn’t rely on Husso until that late in the game against Seattle, but they still needed him to keep them in the game. If not for the Finn, the Blues would have been down 2 or 3-0 by the time the third period started. By then, who knows if the Blues get enough offense to tie it.
Not all of Seattle’s looks were from prime real estate, but they had plenty of grade-A chances. Out of Seattle’s 32 shots on goal, I’d estimate about 20 were good looks and 10-15 resulted in big saves.
Of course, performances like this will only fuel the fans that cannot live without goalie controversy. Instead, perhaps we should just be happy to have two quality goalies that can and will win you a game, especially since all the national pundits listed Husso as a reason the Blues likely were not contenders.
Pros: Next man up
We’re all tired of hearing about who is on the protocol list. There is a strong case to be made that asymptomatic players should not be constantly tested since it seems to be making it’s way around, vaccination or not.
Regardless of our own personal beliefs on that matter, you have to be impressed at the Blues ability to continually step up and fill the void. It might not always be pretty, but they get the job done.
In the post game, Bernie Federko made a good point. When you have skill players out of the lineup, you have to play a more physical game and the Blues did that. This was not a playoff-style, smash mouth game, but the Blues were digging in and finishing checks.
The Blues were playing depleted against Dallas and it took them 55 minutes to finally get it together. They were missing even more players against Seattle and you could tell for the first 40 minutes.
As fans, we often demand perfection regardless of the surrounding circumstances. We see the Blues playing a last place team and whine that they aren’t dominating.
However, with the constant line changes, guys just don’t know the intricacies of their teammates that you need to make some of those plays. Once they figured it out, they got rolling like we’re used to.
This was not the prettiest of games. When you win, you win though.
The negatives were there. The passing was really bad in terms of quality early on and in terms of frequency in the middle stages of the game.
We all love Federko in St. Louis, but I’m not sure what game he was watching to say the Blues had some great looks in the second power play. They might have won the shot battle, but they didn’t look like scoring at all.
On the positive, they dug in and kept themselves in the game until they found their game. Once the Blues had their legs under them, so to speak, they took the game over and showed their class.
As bad as the power play was early on, we saw why they can be so good. As mentioned, it only took 12 seconds for the Buchnevich goal to happen.
Credit to the Kraken for taking advantage of the Blues miscues early on. In the end, this was a fair result and the Blues deserved the win, even if they didn’t dominate.