St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021-22 Game 62 At Washington Capitals

St. Louis Blues left wing Nathan Walker (26)Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues left wing Nathan Walker (26)Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

For the St. Louis Blues, the tears were shed and the hugs were handed out. Teammates became former teammates on the way to Washington and the Blues picked up a new face in the locker room.

Once the trade deadline passes, the hope is that chemistry hits its peak and players can refocus solely about their performance on the ice. Sometimes it works perfectly and other times, it’s a steep learning curve.

The Blues wanted to get back to hockey to settle themselves down after their trade deadline. They also hoped to end their struggles against Eastern Conference teams.

Initially, it seemed as though the Blues were prepared. They had some good energy and created a couple good looks.

Brayden Schenn managed the best opportunity on goal. Unfortunately, with the goaltender on his stomach and 80% of the net empty, Schenn hit the post.

Then, the Blues offense went quiet, as it has a lot lately. They sat back and absorbed pressure and eventually took a penalty.

Washington scored almost immediately after the faceoff. The shot from the right circle hit Ville Husso in the glove, popped over his head and got knocked in behind him. It was going in either way, so the power play goal put the Capitals up 1-0.

The Blues wouldn’t stay down for incredibly long. It took a fantastic individual effort from Brandon Saad to tie the game, coming in with speed and slipping it just under the goaltender.

The tie didn’t last long either. After Niko Mikkola failed to control the puck at the blue line, Washington came down on a partial two-on-one. I disagree with the television crew that Robert Bortuzzo needed to switch to the puck carrier since he opened up the back door play, which became a 2-1 lead.

Fortunately, we saw that resilient side of the Blues rather early in this game instead of waiting until the end. The team put pressure on the Capitals and eventually forced a power play of their own.

The passing on that man advantage was quick and purposeful. David Perron took a shot that should have been grabbed, similar to Husso’s miscue, but the puck came out and Saad tapped it to Ryan O’Reilly for the tying goal.

It was an interesting period. Based on the postgame comments, Craig Berube was fine with it, but it wasn’t that great. It had some good moments, but worrying ones too.

The second period saw the return of the actually good second period Blues. They started to dominate the Capitals.

The Blues didn’t score until a little over halfway through the period, but they had been building to it. Nathan Walker continued his string of scoring almost immediately upon all his recalls, netting a goal by crashing the front of the net.

Speaking of going to the front of the net, that’s how Brayden Schenn scored the team’s fourth goal. He cut in front from the far side and tried to stuff it in. He did a figure skater impression and then popped in his own rebound for a 4-2 score.

St. Louis limited Washington to just four shots on goal in the second period and again in the third. The Blues continued their dominance with 13 shots in the third alone. They were unfortunate not to score during the run of play. However, David Perron extended his scoring streak with an empty net goal to finish off the game 5-2.

Pros: Leddy

I don’t want to get too excited about this guy because he’s just settling in. We’ve seen other players have good starts, only to fall off later *coughScandellacough*.

However, Nick Leddy provided exactly what the Blues needed. He did not register a point and only had two shots on goal, but he was a steady, calming presence back there.

He stepped up when needed too. Though he was already going to be utilized on the power play, he got even more time due to an injury to Torey Krug. Leddy stayed on the attack for almost the full two minutes during one of St. Louis’ power plays.

Only Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk had more defensive minutes than Leddy. That was mainly because those two had penalty kill time. The numbers likely would have been even if it was a five-on-five game the entire way.

Cons: Caps first goal

Any mention of goaltending seems to make one side or the other defensive. Mention one flaw and you have an army coming to your side or to the defense of whoever you are criticizing.

Let’s call it how it is, though. The first goal Ville Husso let up was weak.

Initially, some of us thought it may have been tipped by Mikkola. That was not the case.

It is a power play goal, so the Blues had fewer defenders. Nevertheless, there’s no reason this goal needed to go in.

Husso was not screened. It was a shot from the circle, but still not the most optimal angle of all time.

It actually hits Husso’s glove in a spot where he simply should have had it. Perhaps he took his eye off it, thinking it was going to catch him in the mask and the glove simply got in the way. That’s not an indefensible reaction.

Still, as a professional goaltender, he needed to make that save. It was good catching height, hits the glove and still ends up behind him. It’s not the worst goal of all time, but it needed to be saved.

Pros: Schenn

If you judge his game only by the stat sheet, Schenn had a so-so game. I’m kidding, of course. The guy put up a goal, three points and was a plus-3 on the night.

He had five shots, three hits, a block and a takeaway. He was Mr. Do-it-all tonight.

That’s what the Blues need from this guy. Even if you don’t get the points from him, he passed the eye test.

None of us ever really know how a hockey player’s body feels. Maybe Schenn has been banged up all season and we’ve only known about it for the few games he might miss.

Whatever the reason, we saw leader Schenn in this one. He was leading by example and lifting the entire team up by its boot straps.

There’s been games in the past where Schenn might score, but he’s not really doing much. This was the opposite.

He was getting in those dirty areas. He drove to the front of the net and took some bumps instead of just looking to get off easy.

Really, the only thing he didn’t do was get into a fight. He’s willing, but the Blues don’t need that. They do need everything else he provided in this game.


It’s great that the Blues won and ended their losing streak in impressive fashion. It’s also good to finally get another win over a non-conference opponent.

Everything must be taken with a grain of salt, i.e. realizing there is good and bad, even if not in the performance itself.

The good is getting the win, pure and simple. The bad is being told that the Capitals have the worst home record of any team currently in a playoff spot.

The good is finally drawing out the things the Blues base their style on, which is physicality, grit and tenacity. The bad is, despite what the coach thinks, that first period was not great. The team had three shots on goal for much of the frame until they found their offense late and had already been scored on.

Husso was good, stopping 19 of 21 shots. He still doesn’t look like the hot goalie that we saw earlier in the season and that shot off the glove continues to show some cracks.

Overall, these are minor complaints that are only worrying if the Blues turn around and lay an egg against Carolina. If they continue to play hard and do what they can do best, then you’re simply going to have games where your goalie gives up a softy or maybe you have a lull for five or so minutes.

Bottom line, the Blues beat a playoff team that currently has more points than they do. Washington might have been missing some players, but the Blues were missing two of their top-six forwards, so I don’t want to hear about whoever was out for either team. St. Louis was the better team out of who hit the ice.

Given the race in the West, the Blues need to sustain this now. They have fewer losses than both of their Central Division contemporaries, but those overtime losses are looming large for keeping this race tighter than it needs to be.

Next. 3 reasons avoiding Chychrun was a good thing. dark

A solid win, in regulation, against a playoff team is very welcome. Keeping Alex Ovechkin off the board is a nice bonus too.