The St. Louis Blues are a team that likes to play with fire, apparently. Since the beginning of the 2021-22 season, they’ve waved their hands over various flames and gotten away with it.
They’ve relied too much on goaltending at times. They have been sloppy and inconsistent.
The Blues have not shown up early in games, knowing they were capable of coming back. More recently, they’ve actually jumped out to decent leads, only to see those dwindle down to nothing.
That last example is what we saw in Arizona. The Blues jumped out to a big lead and then hung on by the skin of their teeth.
Things opened up very well for St. Louis. Despite a sparse crowd, there was a very large contingent of Blues fans in attendance and they were noisy, and had every right to be in the first period.
Justin Faulk got the scoring going just over three minutes in. Taking a pass on the left circle, Faulk unleashed a laser beam slap shot over the glove hand.
Ivan Barbashev would double the Blues lead less than three minutes later. St. Louis got a 2-0 lead when Faulk had another blast trickling through the goaltender while Barbashev outraced the defender and slid it over the goal line.
Brandon Saad tripled the lead with 3:40 left. St. Louis broke into the zone on the power play, Saad recollected the puck after a pass went off a skate and then he tucked it just under the goalie. It shouldn’t have gone in, but those are the breaks you need at times.
Arizona got a late goal. After turning it over twice in the same sequence, the Coyotes took a shot from the point that was likely going wide but went off a body and in.
At the time, it seemed rather pointless. The Blues had still been the better team and only gifted their opponent a goal.
Logan Brown restored order early in the second period. Dakota Joshua made a fantastic steal at the blue line and Brown knocked home the rebound to make it 4-1.
That score held up through two periods of play. All seemed right with the world. St. Louis had only given up nine shots to that point, including just three in the second period. It would all be smooth sailing, right?
Arizona had other things in mind. They outshot the Blues 11-4 in the third period alone.
The Coyotes got two goals in under a minute, making the score 4-3 out of nowhere. St. Louis gave the puck up in their own zone along the wall for the first one, unable to recover to stop what was essentially a two-on-one.
The next goal found the Blues somewhat hemmed in their zone and failing to get it out after more weak board play on the opposite side of the ice. Again, after the turnover, the Blues were discombobulated and a needle-threading pass found a man on the back door.
The tying goal was not really anyone’s fault. Arizona came in on an odd-man rush, but St. Louis recovered.
The Coyotes worked it around the perimeter and found the defender crashing from the blue line. He ripped a shot high from just outside the circle to make it 4-4 with less than five minutes to go.
At that point, the way the period had transpired, it went from an easy win to hoping the Blues could even get to overtime. They did force the extra period, gaining a point at the very least.
Rarely does overtime favor the Blues, but they wasted little time on this night. 26 seconds into OT, the Blues won the offensive zone faceoff back to Faulk. He bumbled the puck at first, but then snapped a wrister in for a 5-4 Blues win.
I am not sure what is happening to Jordan Kyrou. The worry is that he’s got Paul de Jong syndrome and will fall off the map after having an All-Star first half.
Kyrou has hit a big rough patch of late. It’s not just a lack of goals either.
He’s only got three goals in his last 20 games and four goals in 23. The points aren’t really there either, so it’s not like he’s been setting guys up.
Kyrou was put on the fourth line in a game just a week or two ago. Oddly enough, he scored two goals in one of those games.
However, it’s his reliability that has taken a hit. He’s reverted to last season when you knew the talent was there, but he looks lost at the NHL level.
His stick handling confidence is gone. He’s not winning battles and he’s weak on the puck.
He was directly responsible for the Coyotes second goal when he just let them poked it away from him along the wall. Kyrou was not the only one to blame on the following goal, but he did not close the gap quickly enough, nor get a strong swipe at the puck – only a weak jab.
Kyrou’s line was on the ice for two of the three Arizona goals in the second period. He was not the only reason those goals scored and not the main reason for them, except that one.
He factors in though. Even Craig Berube has said so publicly, saying Kyrou does some things right, but needs to play a complete game.
He only played 10 minutes against Minnesota. If Tyler Bozak is healthy, I would not be surprised to see Kyrou sit a game in the near future.
Pros: 40 minutes of offense
Through two periods of play, we saw why the Blues are a dangerous team, even for a potential opponent like Colorado. The Blues don’t have that level of speed, but they’re skilled and determined.
St. Louis got two goals in under three minutes, under six minutes overall, in the first. They had three goals on 15 shots, which is a pretty decent percentage.
St. Louis kept the heat on in the second period. They capitalized on a huge miscue by the Coyotes early in the second and still finished with 12 shots in addition to that goal.
What happened in the third period, with only four shots, is anyone’s guess. The Coyotes came out hard and the Blues thought they could coast, but still.
However, for 40 minutes, we saw what this team is capable of. The scary thing is, I don’t think they were even close to their full potential in those 40 minutes.
I’m sure there are still plenty of fans pining for Petro. Faulk has done everything he possibly can to fill that gap, though.
The guy has done it all this season. He did it all in this game.
He scored two goals, including the game winner. He added another point with an assist that came off a shot that almost beat the goaltender anyway.
There will never be another Al MacInnis, but Faulk has actually been closer than Colton Parayko lately. The guy just rips slap shots old school style and regularly hits 100 mph.
He’s two goals and four points away from tying career highs. It’s his defensive work that has been just as impressive.
Against the Coyotes, he only had one hit and one takeaway on the stat sheet. I usually multiply that by two or three to give an accurate depiction of what the average fan will see. Maybe he didn’t “hit” someone, but he rode them into the wall and dislodged the puck. Maybe he didn’t have a takeaway from the technical point of view, but he disrupted a pass with a well placed stick.
Between him and Vladimir Tarasenko, this has been a good year to shut up the know-it-alls.
We saw the best and worst that 2021-22 has offered from the Blues all in one game. For 40 minutes, we saw the smothering team, capable of scoring whenever on whomever.
For the last 20 minutes, we saw the team incapable of doing much right. That was the team that plays down to their competition and is capable of being bounced in five games in a first-round series.
However, I don’t put much of this result against a potential playoff result. It’s just not the same.
We all want the Blues to play their best and their hardest for 60 minutes, 82 times a year. The fact is humans just don’t work that way.
Our subconscious is more powerful than anyone wants to admit. You can tell yourself not to take it easy and keep focused, but when you scored four goals and had a three-goal lead with little resistance, somewhere in your mind you relax.
That’s what St. Louis did. Once you lose that edge, it’s hard, if not impossible, to get back.
That’s why the playoffs are different. You know you cannot lose that edge.
It stinks knowing a team capable of winning a championship blew a lead against one of the worst teams in the league. Things happen.
Tampa lost to Montreal the other night. Not all of Colorado’s losses have been to playoff teams.
The Blues got a win and that’s important. Minnesota keeps beating up the chumps, so the Blues have to do the same.
At this point, the how is not important, only the if. If you win, it doesn’t matter how.
The Blues better let that third period go quickly. Anaheim will be pumped up for Ryan Getzlaf’s final home game, so another quick start would be beneficial to The Note.