The St. Louis Blues came into Smashville riding an eight-game winning streak. Playing the Nashville Predators is never an easy thing though, especially with both teams battling for playoff positioning.
It was another start to a game that was just OK. The Blues were not that bad, but it’s just confusing why they struggle to get shots on goal when they’re top five in terms of goals scored.
St. Louis also got swarmed. Nashville was buzzing all over the Blues in all three zones.
The Predators got onto the board first, and early too. Less than five minutes in, the Blues turned it over in the offensive zone.
The Blues got caught on a partial break the other way. Compounding matters, Calle Rosen thought the puck would be coming to the near corner, leaving his man wide open on the door step. It did take a quality pass from behind the net, but the couple lapses still led directly to that goal.
In typical Blues fashion, they didn’t get much done on the offensive end, until they did. Having only seven shots entering the final five minutes, the Blues managed to make Nashville pay on the power play.
A questionable interference call put the Blues a man up. St. Louis won the faceoff, got a quick pass back to Brayden Schenn at the point and he snapped one by traffic into an open blocker side to tie it 1-1.
The Blues kept that momentum into the early part of the second period. Just 1:11 into the frame, Vladimir Tarasenko bull rushed the defender on the right wing. He got just enough space to get the shot off and make it 2-1.
The Predators came right back from there. They had two great looks around the four minute mark, including one that forced a fantastic toe save by Jordan Binnington.
That save sprang a counter attack. The Blues found Rosen on the left wing and he roofed it over the blocker shoulder to gain a 3-1 lead with 15:36 left.
St. Louis calmed things down for a time after that. The game continued to swing back and forth, but there were not as many chances given up.
Eventually, St. Louis got another one. With the Predators being passive through the middle, a nice pass found Jordan Kyrou. Kyrou went skate to stick and then cut it perfectly back across the grain, over the blocker shoulder from the right side, making it 4-1 Blues.
St. Louis was determined not to have a repeat of the prior night’s game against Minnesota. They refused to give the Predators any kind of hope.
Less than three minutes after Kyrou’s goal, Rosen got his second. Despite a goaltender change after the Kyrou goal, the Blues kept going to the blocker side and Rosen did it again and got his second of the year.
39 seconds later, the fourth line cashed in. A strong push from Logan Brown to get behind the net freed up Nathan Walker and he buried one to make it 6-1.
St. Louis just stayed relentless. Springing a quick attack with a pass from the goaltender, Ivan Barbashev split the defense with a pass to Schenn and he snapped one over the glove side to push the score to 7-1.
Predators fans got a little hope. St. Louisan Luke Kunin beat Binnington with 1:13 left in the period to make it 7-2 and make a comeback plausible.
The Blues put a stop to that rather quickly. Of a two-on-one, Kyrou just stood on the circle – given enough time to recover the puck – and sniped one with 47 seconds left to make it 8-2.
St. Louis absorbed a little bit of pressure in the third period. Nashville eventually got to them, scoring off a screen just over 12 minutes in.
Even so, the Blues were pretty solid overall. It was another night with a lot of shots against, but the Blues took advantage of almost all the chances they could.
Nashville would add a late one to make it 8-3. The result was never in doubt though.
Pros: Economical second period
The Blues simply exploded in the second period. Seven goals scored in any scenario is more than enough.
To do it in one period is pretty special. To do it the way the Blues did is even more rare.
St. Louis got seven goals on 16 shots. Though the math is a little less, the Blues essentially scored on every other shot.
The patience and ability to pick their spots was wonderful. They saw the blocker side as a weak spot and exploited it.
They held on and waited when they should. St. Louis took some quick shots when necessary too.
The seven goals in one period was also a team record.
Cons: Shaky start
You’re not going to be able to start like a house on fire every single game. However, the Blues have a penchant for having shaky starts.
In this game, the credit goes to Nashville. They came out strong, taking the physical game to St. Louis and just swarming them every opportunity they could.
The worry was they would get on the board quickly, which they did. Once that happens, you wonder if the Predators would be the team to run away and hide.
Fortunately, that did not happen. The Blues calmed things down. It easily could have kept swinging the Preds way though.
Pros: Kyrou breaking out
For awhile during the winter months, it looked like Jordan Kyrou would easily be the Blues leading scorer this season. There’s an outside chance that could still happen, but he hit a long dry spell.
Prior to this game, the young star only had one goal in his previous 16 games. For an All-Star player, that’s a long time without a bunch of goals.
Due to reasons beyond just a lack of goals, Kyrou had been put on the fourth line for a spell. He used that as motivation and broke free in this game.
Kyrou had two goals and they were nice ones. Each one showcased some patience, not just letting it fly and getting it blocked.
He picked his spots and made sure of it, just like a prime scorer does when afforded the time. The second goal was a prime example of that, with Kyrou just waiting until everyone had committed and then roofing it.
In the recap portion of the article, I gave a little blame to Rosen on that Nashville goal. The truth is almost any defender in the league would have taken the same path, soyou can’t blame him too much for leaving the middle open.
Even if you do blame him, he more than made up for it. Two goals is a good night for anyone, but a great night for a rookie defenseman.
The way he was shooting the puck, it almost looked like he would be just as comfortable playing forward. It wasn’t your typical just fling it on net and hope that you see from many defenders. Rosen knew where he wanted to put it and did.
This doesn’t mean the Blues have another budding scorer on the blue line. When you can get contributions from unexpected players though, it helps the cause, especially in the playoffs.
If it wasn’t for the stupid San Jose Sharks, the Blues could have and should have had some breathing room in the standings. San Jose had a 4-3 lead over Minnesota in the third period and blew it, losing in overtime.
The fact the Wild won took a little excitement out of the Blues win. It’s great to win and fun to watch, but when you’re still just one point ahead, it doesn’t matter if you won by five goals or one goal.
Regardless, the Blues are hitting a fantastic offensive stride at just the right time. They are settling into some great line combinations, with guys still giving Craig Berube flexibility to mix things if he needs.
As fans, we worry about those starts when the Blues get outplayed. From the team perspective, they weathered the storm and got down to their business once they got settled.
Nashville doesn’t have quite the same hatred as teams like Chicago, but they’re close enough. When you can smoke a rival, especially in their barn, it’s always a good night.