The St. Louis Blues needed something to jar them out of their funk they established in a disappointing loss to the New Jersey Devils. Early in this game, it seemed as though playing the rival Chicago Blackhawks was just that something.
St. Louis didn’t get a ton of shots on goal in the early portion of the game, but they were buzzing on the offensive end. The line of Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou came within inches of connecting on a goal twice in the first five minutes.
The pressure would pay off as St. Louis drew a power play about seven minutes in. In spite of some early miscues, the Blues got it set up and David Perron got off the run of no goals he’s been on.
It was all Perron for the goal too. Using the space given, he toe-dragged around the pressuring defender and then whipped it past the goaltender for a 1-0 Blues lead. Capitalizing on the power play felt like it was going to be key in this game and St. Louis got off to a good start.
However, after being one of the few bright spots against New Jersey, the fourth line would not be denied. After a long shot from the point was stopped, Dakota Joshua managed to slide the rebound in as he was knocked down, to make it 2-0.
That lead held into the first intermission. It did not last that long in the second period though.
St. Louis took a holding penalty early in the middle frame. Shortly after that, they took a high sticking call as well.
Chicago wasted little time capitalizing on the two-man advantage. A quick pass from the right side went into the deep slot and was tapped through the five hole to make it 2-1.
The Blues held that one-goal lead, despite more Chicago power plays. They then struck late in the second period to reestablish the two-goal lead.
Vladimir Tarasenko took the puck from the blue line, fed it to Robert Thomas who went through the legs of the defender back to Tarasenko. The sniper sniped and Tarasenko got his 16th goal for a 3-1 score.
The Blues really shut things down in the third period. When you expected a big push from Chicago, it never came because the Blues did not allow it.
St. Louis only allowed two shots on goal in the third. They would add two goals as well.
Oskar Sundqvist cashed in on a juicy rebound for the team’s fourth goal. Jordan Kyrou added the fifth when he avoided the goalie poke check, slid past the sprawling defenders, spun around and slotted it into a mostly empty net for a 5-1 Blues win.
Tarasenko was not a superhero in this game, by any means. However, we saw the old Vladi in this game and he had that old Vladi impact.
Tarasenko has owned the Blackhawks in his career. He continued to do that in this game.
Yes, he only had one point and the goal was mere insurance. That’s not the point.
The snipe was a great shot by itself. It was the impact he had even away from the puck.
Tarasenko has now returned to form so that teams must focus on him. This opens up spaces for his teammates, who can then find him in space when the defense tries to switch off. We saw that on the Tarasenko/Thomas connection.
Tarasenko also had four shots on goal and six attempts. He’s not just tossing pucks towards goal, but creating chances.
Additionally, Tarasenko is doing this in an economical way. He’s not getting huge minutes, so he has to make the most of what he gets.
In this contest, he actually had the least time of any forward not on the fourth line. Some of that was due to him not being on the penalty kill, but the overall point is he made the most out of the least.
Cons: Goalie reaction
Before we go into this, I want to say I like Ville Husso and I’m glad for his success. I defended Husso last year when the goalie bashers were down his throat.
Now that those same people have changed their tune and made Husso the second coming, it’s more than frustrating.
Of course, Husso made some top saves in this game, including a shut down of a two-on-one at a key moment in the game. That said, he faced 16 shots.
I see people all over on social media saying the Blues play the same for both guys. I’m pretty sure facing 16 shots and supporting Jordan Binnington with five goals would have a much different result than we have seen recently.
In a vacuum, I honestly do not care which of the two is in goal. What I do care about is this constant noise on social media from those that think they know all and this guy needs to be benched or that guy needs to be traded.
Can’t we just enjoy a win without using it as fuel on a fire that is out of control anyway? I’d love to see a win that just celebrates a win instead of seeing all this crap about another W for Husso or another L for Binnington or this stat or that metric.
Pros: Good bounce back
The Blues have been good at making a bad game stay as just a bad game all season long. Still, the way that New Jersey game unfolded, the worry was St. Louis would continue to play down to their competition.
Fortunately, the rivalry aspect of this contest brought out the best in the Blues. They still had their moments and made some mistakes, but they didn’t let Chicago have that much hope.
St. Louis was the more physical team, which is what you want to see. They played a much more St. Louis style of play.
The offense came back and the defense showed up too.
It was a good team win and a very good palate cleanser after that loss to the Devils.
St. Louis really needed this win. They had to avoid starting the second half on an actual losing streak, especially to bottom feeders.
They also needed this win to get that momentum on home ice as they head off on a road trip. It’s always a better trip after you win.
They needed this win to remember the fans by because they’re going to not see fans for awhile. The restrictions are still in effect for much of Canada, so the games in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto will all have limited fans or none. That’s going to be a shock coming off sell out buildings in St. Louis.
The Blues also needed this win to show themselves they can crush opponents when needed. Five of the next six games are against teams out of the playoff picture, so St. Louis has to do what they did to Chicago in this one. Don’t try to take part of the night off. Beat them like they deserve and move on.