The St. Louis Blues hoped a little home cooking would help them end a sloppy, three-game losing streak. However, with the team’s struggles against non-playoff teams, perhaps facing the Ottawa Senators was not going to be a good thing.
The Blues opened the game with good energy, though it was still a little misplaced. They were getting pucks on net and forcing the issue offensively, but they still didn’t look crisp and clean.
They handed Ottawa a golden chance with a defensive zone turnover that led to a shot hitting the post on the glove side. Minutes later, the Senators would clang one off the blocker-side post too.
The Blues had some good looks of their own. In fact, they generated some odd-man rushes, but just tried to get too fancy with it instead of getting an early shot for a rebound.
St. Louis took a tripping penalty after another D-zone turnover. The Senators would score on the ensuing power play when a bouncing puck kept getting batted around and finally swatted just past an outstretched Jordan Binnington.
Interestingly, it was just as much of a fortunate play for the Blues to tie it. The captain had great effort to win a board battle and hold the zone. After a couple whacks by both teams along the wall, Ryan O’Reilly found David Perron in his skates. Perron would just fish it out and take a quick backhander that slipped past the Ottawa goaltender to make it 1-1.
St. Louis took another bad penalty late in the first period. It cost them in the second period when the Senators scored on the man advantage for the second time.
The Blues got hemmed into their own zone with some good passing. The Senators kept trying to set up the shot from the right circle and when it connected, it just slipped past the armpit of Binnington for a 2-1 Ottawa lead.
St. Louis just really did not muster much of anything offensively in the second period. Despite being one of the best second period teams in the first half of the season, they’ve been awful lately. Three shots in the middle frame won’t get it done.
Only trailing by one, you’d expect the Blues to come out fired up in the third. It was just more mediocrity.
St. Louis was not bad, but they just look off somehow. Everyone from the goalie to the defense to the forwards are just not clicking.
The Blues would have a few thrusts forward, but they were letting the Senators do what they wanted. Eventually, that pressure cracked and the Blues allowed a third goal. It was the St. Louis boy, Brady Tkachuk to score it too, adding salt to the wound.
St. Louis tried to get a late push, pulling the goaltender with over three and a half minutes left. Other than an individual effort from Vladimir Tarasenko, they didn’t do anything and the Senators put one into the empty net to make it 4-1.
I stayed off social media for this game, but I’m sure it was the usual firestorm of anti-Binnington nonsense. However, I don’t really blame him for this loss. You can’t win scoring one goal.
That said, I didn’t like Binnington’s style or body language at all during this game. He seemed to have found his confidence, win or lose, in his last few starts, but this was the return of the guy that had struggled.
He was off his angles. He was too deep in his net on some of the shots.
Binnington cheated off his post several times, almost getting scored on one in the first period. He keeps getting beaten through the legs too, where if he kept his stick in position, he might not.
Again, this game was not on him. He made several saves on scrambles in front that kept the game within reach for a long time.
However, he just looks off. His teammates aren’t doing him favors by turning things over in the defensive zone either, but he looks shaken by it all.
People will accuse me of reaching on this one since he didn’t score. However, I really liked Tarasenko’s game for much of this contest.
He had five shots on target. He also created several opportunities.
The one play that exemplified his night was that late charge up the ice with the goalie pulled. He took on three different defenders and, while not the fastest skater in the league, showed his skating power and quickness. While he didn’t generate a grade-A chance there, it was still an example of how potent he can be when he puts his mind to it.
Cons: Not enough push
What’s been really frustrating about the Blues over this now four-game losing streak is not doing enough to combat whatever their opponent is doing. That’s not winning hockey.
I don’t care if the Senators are the worst team in the league or the best or something in between. The Blues did not force them to do anything.
Ottawa pretty much played the game they wanted for 60 minutes and merely defended the occasional counter by the Blues. St. Louis could have done more on some of those rushes, but even that does not matter.
The Blues did not wear down the Senators with any kind of offensive zone pressure in the second or third periods. The Blues don’t overwhelm you with talent like Tampa or Colorado. They outwork you and they did not outwork anyone.
They were not dominating on the boards and they weren’t getting into the middle either. It’s been a broken record that they’ll get shots, but you have to ask how many big saves did the Senators need? They got a handful, including a flashy glove save against Tarasenko, but the Blues need more.
They needed to force the Senators to make adjustments to what they were doing, not vice versa.
I do my best to be positive about this team, but they’re making it nearly impossible. I’ve said it at least once over the last week, but even as a person that would rather the Blues stick to their guns than make a big splash, this team is currently giving Doug Armstrong no option but to create a shakeup via trade.
For the longest time, nobody thought the team needed any more offense. When they’re at their best, they still don’t need more, but they’re not scoring goals at all right now. One goal against a journeyman goaltender and a terrible defense isn’t good enough.
The Blues manage to stay in games right until the end, but I’ve had enough of that. They need to be the team that’s up 4-1 late in games.
I don’t think it’s in the forefront of their minds, but I believe this team has relied on their ability to come from behind too much. They think they always can and they have not lately. It’s too much of a risk to continually be playing from behind and we’re seeing the pendulum swing the other way with that kind of luck.
At this point, I’m not sure what this team needs to get itself going. Road trip or not, they’ve got no energy.
It’s not even though they look tired, but they look defeated. They’re in second place in the division and they look like the team that’s already out of the playoffs and ready for the summer.
Guys are looking to the sky or hanging their head. When the Blues were making those comebacks, they were always engaged and watching the play intently. In this game, and all of the three previous losses, they look like a team expecting bad things to happen.
Hopefully it will turn around against the Rangers on Thursday. It’s not joyful to watch right now.