The St. Louis Blues were all disappointed with their Game 2 performance in Minnesota. They chalked up some of it to bad luck and were focused on taking out their frustration in Game 3.
The first playoff game on home ice is always a big atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Blues tapped into the crowd a little too much.
St. Louis came out with a frantic pace. They were buzzing in the offensive zone and also trying to hit everything.
For the first two minutes, the Blues were the better team in almost every way. Unfortunately, only the scoreboard matters and the Wild were up 2-0 in the first two minutes and change.
St. Louis was firing pucks on net, but Colton Parayko failed to hold the zone. That sprang a two-on-one for the Wild to score on a back door play.
The Blues came right back into the zone and started at it again. The Wild chipped another one up the wall, springing Kirill Kaprisov on a breakaway. Ville Husso made the initial save and then had the puck put off his skate and in for a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis kept trying to feed off the crowd, but that was actually a bad idea. The crowd had a ton of nervous energy and the Blues were just as frenetic.
They were hitting everything in sight, but not even coming close to finding the puck. They were just playing out of control.
The Wild, meanwhile, kept their cool and were getting the better looks. By the time the first period ended, Minnesota was outshot 14-12, but outchanced the Blues 12-5.
To make matters worse, the Blues were already banged up and lost another player on the blue line. Torey Krug went for a blow-up check and actually hurt his knee, not to return in this game.
The second period didn’t get much better. The Blues had to start opening things up a little in an attempt to get on the board. Instead, they allowed yet another odd-man rush and Matt Zuccharello sniped one over the blocker to make it 3-0 with almost eight minutes gone.
It was just a bad period by St. Louis. There was no rush, no second chances and no flow.
The Blues just had zero zone awareness. They allowed so many chances from the slot, including another one 22 seconds into the third period, making it 4-0.
St. Louis at least showed a little pride. After failing to get anything going on the power play for the first shift, the Blues got a power play goal when Ryan O’Reilly used Schenn as a screen to make it 4-1.
It seemed like St. Louis might make a game of it. They were buzzing in the offensive end, but Robert Thomas hit the post on an open net.
St. Louis kept some pressure up and started looking like the team we saw in Game 1. You have to say Minnesota was just hanging back, but it still matters.
However, the team just gave it all up. Craig Berube decided to pull the goalie with over seven minutes left and the Wild put it into the empty net almost immediately.
The Blues gave up a couple late power plays. The game was already decided by then and Minnesota put their fourth line out on the man advantage anyway.
St. Louis lost 5-1, putting them down 2-1 in the series.
Cons: Bad luck
For the second game in a row, the Blues just did not get the bounces. They dominated the first two minutes and change and found themselves down by two goals.
You’re coming out with furious energy and a failure by Parayko to keep the puck in the zone costs you. You get a fantastic save by Husso on a breakaway and then Kaprisov gets a lucky goal off the goalie’s skate.
If Thomas hits the net instead of the post in the second period, maybe it’s a different game. You have the team’s best left-handed defenseman leave the game because of a wonky knee after a hit.
It’s just not adding up for the Blues right now. They’ve had stretches like this before and come out the other side, but this is the playoffs.
You have to be at your best, which the Blues are not. You need some breaks and the Blues only got those in Game 1.
Cons: Odd man rushes/poor defending
To an extent, the Blues have an excuse. They’re down three key defenders.
Even with that in mind, the way they’re defending – or not defending really – is just not acceptable. I get that you’re shorthanded, but play with some freaking pride.
The Blues have given up 12 odd-man rushes to Minnesota in two games. They gave up at least three goals on rushes in this game alone.
That stat from the first period continues to astound me. 12 shots against and all of them were scoring chances.
St. Louis left the slot open all night long. It’s actually amazing the Wild failed to score more than the one goal from the slot.
Cons: Useless energy
I had a discussion with a reader about the Blues not being ready to play. I disagree, but it’s a battle of semantics really.
St. Louis came out hard. They had energy.
There was no focus though. They tried to come out of their skates on every hit and put the Wild away in the first five minutes.
You want to give the crowd something to stay excited about, but that’s not been St. Louis’ game all year. They needed to be a heavier team in the playoffs, but not to this extent.
There was no purpose to their play. The intermission crew even talked about how Brayden Schenn was going in to destroy guys, but not even looking for the puck.
St. Louis tried the same thing back in 2019 even when they were a more physically imposing team. It’s fine to want to get physical, but it has to be for a reason and you need to come up with the puck.
Apologies for not finding a positive section in this game, but it was all too sporadic. The O’Reilly goal was nice, but also showcased how little the Blues did at other times in the game.
That goal came because of netfront presence and an ability to hold the puck in the zone. In the first two periods, there was none of that.
Even on the power plays, the Blues abandoned any sort of bumper position. If the guy that was trying to screen went behind the net to retrieve a pass, nobody went to the front and you had four other players ALL on the perimeter.
The Thomas, Tarasenko and Buchnevich line has disappeared. It was an unstoppable trio to end the year and when the Blues need them most, they’ve accomplished nothing.
This game doesn’t fall on them. Nobody did much of anything.
The forwards tried to be physical in the offensive zone, but where was the backcheck on some of these odd-man rushes? The defense had plenty to be faulted on, but when you’re without your two best left-handed defenders, another grit guy and one of your leaders back there continues to be a 6’6 pilon, I’m not sure what Justin Faulk and Calle Rosen can do.
I’ve seen lots of calls to put Jordan Binnington in net for Game 4. Maybe you do, but it can only be to send a message to the team.
Ville Husso has been the only reason these last two games were not utter destruction and stayed reasonably respectable. Unless Binnington gets a shutout, he would not have been the difference.
The series is not over, but it feels like it’s going the wrong way. The Blues are just picking up too many injuries to a part of their team where depth was thin anyway.
They need to score first and not be so frantic in Game 4. It’s still anyone’s series, but it’s amazing how quickly you can go from jokes about a potential sweep to being on the brink of being down 3-1, heading back to Minnesota.