The St. Louis Blues have really done well for their playoff prospects lately. Coming into their final game against the Seattle Kraken, they had won two pretty good games.
As always, the worry was the Blues would play down to their opponent. Seattle has some talent, but they’re not a good team overall.
The Blues didn’t play a perfect game, but they didn’t crap the bed in the first period either. In fact, they continued to get the first goal of the game instead of their old habit of falling behind.
Robert Thomas made it 1-0 with a power play goal. At 8:38, Thomas finished off a tic-tac-toe play.
The goal was impressive. However, it was the fact the Blues needed two big saves just prior to that that was worrisome.
The rest of the first period transpired with no major events. Still, the Blues absorbed a little too much pressure.
The Blues outshot Seattle in the first period, but it didn’t feel like that. Seattle actually had the better of the chances in the period.
The Blues were also not good on the faceoff dot in the first. St. Louis has some of the better centers in the league, but they got schooled by a margin of almost three to one.
The second period was a little more even keel from the Blues. They started clamping down a bit more, though the first portion was still a little loose.
Nevertheless, St. Louis got the next goal and that proved to be important. On another rush play, St. Louis got their 2-0 lead off a fantastic one-time finish by Justin Faulk.
That lead lasted less than two minutes. Seattle got on the board just short of halfway through the game, ending Ville Husso’s bid for a shutout and putting the game in doubt.
The Blues wasted little time putting doubt to rest in the third period. Not even three minutes in, Jordan Kyrou restored the two goal lead.
It was an odd play as the Blues barely got into the zone onside. They kept filtering the puck closer to the net, but it started bouncing off sticks on the way through. Kyrou showcased good hand-eye coordination, knocking it out of midair for a 3-1 lead.
St. Louis pretty much clamped down from then on. Husso had to make the odd, big save here or there toward the end of the game, but St. Louis had decent defense to end it.
The captain, Ryan O’Reilly, put the game on ice. With 1:15 left in the contest, O’Reilly managed to drive in and score into an empty net for a 4-1 win.
28 saves doesn’t sound all that impressive in today’s NHL. However, it was more the quality than the quantity.
As mentioned, Husso didn’t have to make a ton of 10-bell saves. He had to make several good ones to keep the team in the lead though.
The first period saw Husso really have to stand tall. Even though the Blues outshot Seattle, the Kraken had the better looks.
They easily could have taken the lead before St. Louis could. Instead, Husso gave them every chance to score first and then maintain the lead afterwards.
Pros: The centers
The guys up the middle had an excellent game for St. Louis as far as the offense went. They were the catalyst for just about everything.
O’Reilly had a goal and iced the game. Robert Thomas finished the game with a goal and two blocks and was the first star of the game.
Ivan Barbashev switches back and forth from the middle to the wing, but he was still a big time performer. He added an assist and three hits.
Brayden Schenn could have laid claim to the top star too. He had two assists, two hits and three takeaways. He was getting it done in all three zones.
The Blues power play wasn’t too terrible in this game. Nevertheless, their percentage was horrible.
The Kraken were so undisciplined, they handed the Blues six power plays before they ever got one of their own. St. Louis only capitalized on one of those.
That goal came back in the first period. That means St. Louis went 0-5 the rest of the game.
I realize that the best power plays in the league score once every 10 tries, but you’ve got to make a team pay if they’re going to the box six times.
On top of that, the shorthanded chances are ridiculous. While they weren’t the biggest saves of all time, the Blues only got their first goal because Husso came up with big saves while St. Louis was a man up.
They’re allowing far too many looks the other way.
The Blues got the job done and that’s the main thing as we approach the end of the season. Wins are wins now more than any point during the year.
It doesn’t matter what Seattle’s record is. It doesn’t matter that Arizona was in the running for an all-time bad team for much of the year.
What matters is the Blues won. They’ve won three in a row and scored 15 goals over those three game.
St. Louis’ offense has restored itself. They have four, or more, goals in six straight.
Despite having more of the possession, the Blues outhit their opponent as well. 24 hits isn’t earth shattering, but it’s showcasing the physical brand of hockey that will make the Blues potentially successful in the playoffs.
The turnover numbers are still too high. The Blues are allowing too many grade-A looks too.
However, as mentioned, they got the win and that’s all we care about. Playing Minnesota will not be easy, but the Blues team we have seen in the last three games can and should beat them.