It’s amazing how the pendulum swings back and forth in sports. The St. Louis Blues were ice cold and out of sorts during their four-game losing streak. Suddenly, the offense sprang back to life and scored 13 goals in two games against the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators.
Keeping that momentum against the Winnipeg Jets was going to be important for two reasons. Clearly, just getting the win is paramount to maintain their position in second place. It doesn’t hurt that beating Winnipeg would put them 14 points behind the Blues and further back in a crowded playoff race.
The game got off to St. Louis’ normal so-so start. The Blues had good energy overall, but didn’t get enough pucks to the net, which is a growing concern.
The Blues only had six first period shots until late in the frame, when they pushed their total to nine. Part of that reason was due to killing off a 61-second five-on-three penalty, but you’d still like to see more chances..
That penalty kill gave St. Louis some solid momentum. They carried that into their own power play.
The Blues managed to keep the puck in the zone and work it around pretty good for much of their shift. They eventually took advantage of that good passing.
David Perron scored on a snap shot from the left circle to make it 1-0. Whether it was a planned move to let it go through the legs in the slot or Ivan Barbashev missed the puck, it worked.
Winnipeg came out ready in the second period. They forced the issue very early, forcing a good left pad save from Jordan Binnington and then a good defensive play denied the rebound, which would have gone onto a partially open net.
The Jets kept coming, even though the shot totals stayed relatively even through the first nine to 10 minutes. Binnington made a good glove save with about 11:30 left, but spilled the rebound and St. Louis lucked out when Paul Stastny fanned on another empty net look.
The Blues came close themselves. Prior to Stastny’s chance, the Blues had a shot from the left tipped off a defender and barely off the goalie’s shoulder. Just after the chance, Tyler Bozak had a pretty deflection in the deep slot, but it resulted in another shoulder save.
The Blues couldn’t escape all their mistakes though. Justin Faulk got extremely careless with a soft backhand pass in the attacking zone and the turnover resulted in a two-on-zero break the other way and the Jets connected to make it 1-1.
It seemed as though it was going to go into the intermission with a 1-1 tie. Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko broke the deadlock with 25 seconds left. It was probably a shot that should have been saved, but the Blues and Tarasenko would definitely take it since it made it 2-1 and he broke an eight-game goalless streak.
It was a hard shot that kind of crossed up the goalie. I’ll let you decide.
Similarly to the second period, the Jets came out strong in the third too. Binnington had to make an early save, cover a deflected puck and had one get past him but hit the post, all in the first three minutes.
The pressure became too much after awhile. Binnington made an awkward save after a scramble from behind the net, but could not get into position for the rebound and the defense couldn’t help out either.
As the Blues were trying to regroup, the Jets just came right back at them. A bad pass from Marco Scandella gave it right to Winnipeg and they would score the go-ahead goal just 1:03 after they tied it.
The game kept turning on it’s ear. It seemed as though the Blues would run out of time, but they actually scored fairly quickly with their goal empty. Brayden Schenn hit a one timer from the left of the slot to make it 3-3.
The Blues almost pulled off a scene reminiscent of the 2019 playoffs by ending it in regulation. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the finish and the game went to overtime.
Winnipeg had the first chance, almost scoring on a trickler behind Binnington. Fortunately, he smothered it before it got over the line.
St. Louis had a three-on-one and couldn’t sneak it under the blocker arm. Winnipeg transitioned shortly after that and connected on their two-on-one for a 4-3 win.
Haters are going to hate. There’s no avoiding it.
The bottom line is that the Blues only stayed in this game and got a point because of Jordan Binnington. The defense was mediocre for long stretches and the passing decisions were awful again.
Winnipeg scored either directly or soon after a bad pass by St. Louis on three of their goals. If you want to rely on the argument the team plays better in front of Ville Husso right now, fair enough, but this game was not on Binner.
Similar to Husso’s game against Nashville, Binnington played very well and still made 33 saves even though he gave up four.
Cons: Passing decisions
For much of the game, the Blues were actually connecting on a good deal of their passes. St. Louis is never going to remind anyone of the 1997 Detroit Red Wings, but they don’t need to.
However, there’s a difference between missing on passes and making dumb passes. St. Louis did the latter.
Faulk had no business trying a blind, backhanded pass that close to the blue line. IF you make that pass, you better be 100% certain there’s a teammate there and they’re going to receive it. Neither of those things happened.
The Scandella pass was even more confusing. You’re in behind your net, try a foolish play up the middle and give it right to Winnipeg. I’ve known for some time that Scandella was not a top pair defenseman, but he is having a nightmare season right now and much of it because of plays like that.
Pros: Getting the point
It’s cliché and I always hate when it gets said, but you cannot ignore the Blues getting a point out of this game. They needed to win and they should have won, but you cannot afford to get nothing as we approach the last quarter of the season.
Really, if the Blues don’t shoot themselves in the foot, they win this game. It was only a few bad passes and a stretch of about three minutes that did them in.
They persevered and managed to tie the game late. St. Louis came close to winning it in regulation with some good pressure on net and just couldn’t get that final connection.
Unfortunately, this current team is not really built for 3v3.
I fully admit to this part being a bigger picture thing than this particular overtime, but it doesn’t matter. I simply despise three-on-three and that’s never going to change.
Call me a stick in the mud if you want, but I don’t want to see unearned odd-man rushes for five minutes. If you capitalize on a mistake or make a great defensive play and hit a stretch pass to get a breakaway or a two-on-one, great.
This garbage of a guy falling down leading to an odd man rush or simply putting the puck on net and circling behind the net leading to a break the other way is not hockey.
I fully understand and won’t argue the point that this current team is bad at overtime. They have to figure a way to be better or more organized.
However, as a general idea, it’s a stupid gimmick. No other sport fundamentally changes how they play the game in an effort to get a winner.
People complain all the time about the NFL’s overtime rules, but it’s still 11v11 in the end. The argument that three-on-three is exciting and open just isn’t right.
I love goals as much as the next person, but it’s not earned. I hate it. If the Blues would’ve won, I might hate it less, but I don’t like the whole scenario.
Overall, maybe this is a fair result. St. Louis, at their best, was the better team by far, but they were not at their best for long enough during this game.
They relied on Binnington far too much. The decisions on some of the passes were borderline idiotic at times. On television, we don’t see things from the angles the players do, but you simply wonder what they were looking at.
Conversely, the offense was unlucky. They had some good looks that resulted in some lucky saves early in the game.
The team was disappointing in the third, not getting enough push for the insurance or go-ahead goal when it was 2-1 or 2-2.
For now, all they can do is take the point and move on. A hot Pittsburgh Penguins team is up next.