The inconsistencies of the St. Louis Blues continue to rear their ugly head. At their best, the Blues are still contenders and can beat any team in the league.
Unfortunately, we have not seen the team’s best in awhile. After a less than thrilling performance at home against Pittsburgh, the hope was a trip to Columbus would help things.
It got off to a bad start before the puck even dropped. Vladimir Tarasenko was a scratch due to an illness.
Craig Berube decided to use the 11 forward system. While the Blues have had success with this, it’s rarely a good idea because it just messes up all the timing for the defenders.
Ultimately, it did not matter. It was a miscue by a forward that allowed Columbus to get on the board first.
Jordan Kyrou didn’t know pressure was coming as he tried to get up the wall and over the blue line. A little poke separated the puck and Columbus came in and scored.
St. Louis’ ineptitude on offense continued in the first period as well. As usual, the Blues only had three shots on goal until they finally scored.
David Perron continued his hot streak. He snapped one in on the power play to tie things a little over eight minutes in.
That tie was short lived. Less than three minutes later, the Blues surrendered a power play goal to put Columbus up 2-1.
St. Louis made their shot totals respectable by the end of the first, but they weren’t really in it. It was more of a disturbing trend where this team looks uninspired.
Once one of the best second period teams, that has also gone by the wayside. The Blues just went through the motions and Blues killer, Patrik Laine scored on a rush play where he outraced Kyrou to make it 3-1.
In typical Blues fashion, they didn’t give up. They usually had an answer for whatever Columbus threw at them, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Alexei Toropchenko managed to make it interesting. He scored his first NHL goal after providing a screen and then cashing in the rebound.
St. Louis couldn’t capitalize on that momentum though, as they failed to get going early in the third. The Blues did generate chances, but could not beat either of the Columbus goaltenders – they had to change due to an injury – when it mattered.
The Blue Jackets doubled their lead seven minutes in and the tug of war began. St. Louis brought it back within one when David Perron scored his second power play goal and second goal overall.
For whatever reason, the Blues just could not put the clamp down. Jakob Voracek snuck one through traffic to make it a two-goal game again at 5-3.
St. Louis pulled the goalie and DP57 came to the rescue again. He scored his hat trick with 1:20 left in the game, giving the Blues some extra life.
They just couldn’t manage to tie the game. Eventually, time ran out just before Columbus would have put in an empty net goal, so the final was 5-4.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of many fans that left this guy for dead. For a long stretch in the middle portion of the season, he seemed like dead weight and he wasn’t even clicking with his longtime line mate Ryan O’Reilly.
Whatever he’s been drinking or eating, he needs to share with the rest of the team. Perron now has goals in six straight games.
On top of that, he’s scored in eight of the last nine games. Only the New Jersey Devils kept the French Canadian off the goal sheet.
It’s not as though he’s scoring junk goals either. He’s come up with big scores and not just one per game.
On top of the three he had this evening, he’s got nine goals in his previous eight games. I’m no math wizard, but that’s 12 goals in nine games.
One of the problems with this game is that you could tell it hurt Perron. He put the team on his back offensively and they just couldn’t keep Columbus off the board enough for it to matter.
As good as Jordan Kyrou has been offensively this season, there’s plenty of room for growth in his game. That’s especially true on the defensive side.
Kyrou had a rough night in this one. He finished a minus-3, meaning he was on the ice for four of Columbus’ goals since he was also on the ice for one St. Louis goal.
Normally, plus/minus isn’t as big a tell tale sign as we make it out. In this instance, it was.
Kyrou was partially or directly, depending on your viewpoint, responsible for at least two goals.
The very first goal of the game, Kyrou lost the puck on the boards and that directly led to the centering pass that scored the opener. I think someone needs to be more vocal to tell Kyrou someone is on his back, but he also needs to be more situationally aware and scrape it up the boards instead of turning toward the middle.
On Laine’s goal, it was Kyrou that got beat as the big Finn came in and scooped one past Ville Husso. I don’t blame Kyrou solely, since it was a good play and strong push by Laine, but it does showcase that Kyrou hasn’t quite achieved the defensive mindset the Blues need when they’re most successful.
With Columbus only scoring on one out of four power plays, you’d think this actually might be a positive. From the penalty killing standpoint it is, but as far as the game went, it really hindered the Blues.
I’m not even going to touch on whether any of the calls were right or wrong. The bottom line is the Blues went to the penalty box four times.
St. Louis spent just a little under seven minutes in the penalty box, short handed. While seven minutes doesn’t seem like much out of 60, it is still time wasted playing defense when they were behind the entire game.
It’s hard enough to come from behind when you’re at five-on-five. When you’re forcing an already discombobulated lineup to play even more defense instead of focusing on pushing for a tying goal, you’re disrupting your flow even more.
St. Louis has to find a way to stay out of the box in key moments. I don’t know if it’s fatigue or what, but too many of the calls against them are from not keeping their feet moving or trying to slow down opponents that they’ve already let get up to full speed.
This was a really weird game. It was incredibly frustrating, yet it was not really one of those games where you whined and moaned about a certain player or even the defense in general.
I didn’t think there were any glaring miscues defensively like we’ve seen in previous games. The defense was not great, by any stretch, but it was not one of those games where you threw something at the TV and said they have to make a trade right now.
The entire team just didn’t dig in and get it done. It’s almost like they’re just treading water until the playoffs start.
2020 was proof that this team cannot just flip the switch though, so they need to get it figured out. Perron’s postgame comments worried me too.
It wasn’t what he said, but what he didn’t say. You could tell he had to bite his tongue when asked why guys weren’t doing the little things, because he didn’t want to single anyone out. He still made a somewhat pointed remark by using Tampa as an example of how the top stars and fourth line guys all play the same way and it leads to wins.
For whatever reason, St. Louis has simply not looked good against the East. Even more worrying is their failure to get any sustained offensive looks in the third period.
Nine shots or not, you cannot consistently have three or fewer shots on goal going into the last third of the opening period.
Maybe they need a players only meeting or maybe it’ll just get better when the trade deadline is past. There’s only so much a coach can do or say to get a team motivated. If they’re not willing to go after it from the opening puck drop, this team is in trouble.
I still believe they can take out any team. However, as previously stated, that’s when they’re at their best and even in wins, we have not seen them at their best in awhile.