The St. Louis Blues didn’t have a very good start to the second half of the 2021-22 season when they got their doors blown off in Calgary. They hoped a slice of revenge would get them on the right track as the Calgary Flames came to St. Louis just two days after.
St. Louis got off on the right start, generating a solid scoring chance and getting the goaltender scrambling on the very first shift of the game. The offense went quiet for a few minutes after that, but the Blues would ultimately strike first.
The Blues had some good fortune as the refs missed a penalty on Marco Scandella. He was unknowingly playing with a broken stick, but got away with it.
On the ensuing shift, Brandon Saad snapped home the first goal of the game. It was a shot that might normally be saved, but St. Louis will take it when they can get it.
The lead was rather short lived, however. The Blues turned it over in their zone and then Calgary scored from a bad angle on a shot that Ville Husso needed and should have stopped.
The Blues did not fall into the trap we saw in the first period in Calgary though. They kept up their own game.
St. Louis was solid on the back check, paid attention to the back door play and also had a better offensive game. While 11 shots was not a ton better, it felt better as there was more sustained pressure.
St. Louis kept up the pace of the game too. Calgary tied it roughly four minutes after St. Louis scored and then the Blues regained the lead about four minutes later when Brayden Schenn scored from the left wing to make it 2-1.
The Blues have been one of the best second period teams in the league all season, so the hope was they would establish themselves and get a bigger lead. Instead, the Flames made the adjustments and came out hot.
They forced the Blues into a holding penalty with their pressure. The Blues had two cracks at getting a shorthanded goal, but backside pressure, without earning a penalty, by Calgary denied the Note.
The teams went back and forth, though the shot totals kept relatively low. Finally, the Blues made Calgary pay for a turnover as Saad scored almost midway through the game and made it 3-1.
St. Louis started absorbing a little too much pressure. They took another penalty with David Perron called for a slash.
The Blues had another shorthanded look, but couldn’t get enough steam on the shot to catch the goaltender out of the crease. They killed that off and then got a late period power play that also came up empty.
The Blues failed to convert on the remainder of the power play as the third period opened. They struggled to get into the zone, really.
The game continued back and forth with shots staying even. Another turnover by the Flames set up the Blues fourth goal.
The puck ended up behind the net with Robert Thomas, who slammed on the break and went to the forehand. He slipped it past the side of the net to Jordan Kyrou who out waited the goaltender and eventually buried it into an empty net once the goalie went down.
St. Louis looked rather comfortable with a three-goal lead, but the worry is that might be their downfall. They had a two-on-one break with about eight minutes left and Pavel Buchnevich made the wrong choice by passing instead of taking the open shot.
The Blues had a power play with about five minutes left. The oddness of the game continued as the shorthanded teams kept having the better chances with the Flames banging one off the post.
Eventually, all the penalties taken caught up to Calgary. Though it was not a clean play, Ryan O’Reilly finally swatted one in on the power play. The fifth goal of the game just barely crossed the line on replay, having been deflected by a diving defender.
Brandon Saad has had a mixed bag in 2022 so far. He only had one assist in four games after the calendar flipped.
He finally scored his first goal of the calendar year in a losing effort against Toronto, but he had two points that night and three points in two games. Since that little cold spell, he’s rattled off nine points including two goals and an assist in this game.
We can question the goaltending for Calgary. You can wonder if those shots should have gone in or not, but bottom line is that Saad took the shots and they went in.
He put himself in a position to score and did so. That kind of effort was exactly what was missing for the Blues when they played in Calgary.
The Blues needed a guy like Saad to step it up too. While the Blues best success comes when they’re getting scoring from all four lines, they had become too much of a one or two line team in the last few games. Getting Saad rolling spreads out the offense and will eventually open things back up for the more regular scorers.
Clearly the turnovers did not cost the Blues in this game. When you win 5-1, things get covered up pretty easily.
The Blues were a lot better at getting back and keeping on their toes, not letting the turnovers cost them. Even so, it was still a little too much careless puck play.
St. Louis was only charged with eight statistical giveaways, but we all know how that goes. The Blues had six defensive zone turnovers in the first period alone.
When you’re only up 2-1, those kinds of mistakes can really cost you. Obviously, it did not cost the Blues in this instance, but they need to clean up their possession.
This was not a perfect game, but this was a perfect response from the St. Louis Blues. They did almost exactly what the Flames did to them, just with slightly less flare.
Calgary took advantage of a Blues team that was playing their third game in four days and back-to-back games. Calgary had just played in Columbus the previous night.
The Blues have had a bad habit of not taking advantage of a team coming off a game the previous night. They didn’t let the Flames off the hook in this one.
St. Louis made some mistakes along the way, but the style they played allowed them to make up for it. While in Calgary every mistake cost them a goal, the Blues got back to the style of play that we’re accustomed.
The forwards were backchecking, which eliminated several Flames chances. The defense helped out plenty as well, blocking 13 shots.
This was the kind of game you expect from the Blues. Ville Husso made some big stops, but he was not relied on to be the main catalyst to win the game.
The offense stepped up to the plate and got things done. They weren’t doing a bunch of pretty plays and, frankly, both the first Saad goal and Schenn goal probably should not have scored, but they did because they took advantage of a goalie who had an off night.
One of the best plays of the entire night was the reemergence of the Thomas to Kyrou connection. The best line of the night was Schenn, Saad and O’Reilly.
Overall, it was a good team game. The right players came up big at the right moments and the team earned two points.
This doesn’t erase the 7-1 loss, but it definitely took a huge chunk out of that. Eventually, the Blues will need to start playing better on the road, but the focus is points and if they can get those at home, so be it.