St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons 2022 Playoff Game 2 Vs Colorado Avalanche

The St. Louis Blues may have only lost by one goal in Game 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. The game may have gone to overtime.

The truth is it was not that close. The Blues got outplayed in every facet of the game except for goaltending.

Whether you viewed it as a positive to keep it close or you thought the Blues were fortunate not to have been blown out, everyone agreed Game 2 had to be different. The Blues needed to clamp down, play harder and allow fewer chances against.

Early in Game 2, the Blues were doing just that. St. Louis actually outshot the Avalanche for much of the first period.

While not all the chances were grade A, the fact St. Louis got some offense going kept the Avalanche from having the puck. It was one of those cases where offense was the best defense. Colorado can’t score if they don’t have the puck.

Of course, the worry was that the longer the game went without a Blues goal, the shot totals didn’t matter. When the Blues took their eye off the ball, the Avs got counter attack chances.

One of the biggest worries was when Vladimir Tarasenko had his pocket picked at center ice and that led directly to a three-on-two and then sustained zone time. Colorado didn’t score, but that was just one example of how the Avs can make you pay if you’re not sharp the entire time.

While the Blues did outshoot the Avs through 20 minutes and played well overall, there was just a feeling they weren’t quite playing at a playoff level. Robert Thomas had a two-on-one late in the period and just held the thing too long. Eventually, being unselfish is not an excuse for making the poor choice when the Blues needed the chance on goal.

St. Louis came out about the same in the second period. Their energy was good and the effort was there, but soo many shots were low.

Darcy Kuemper is a large goalie, so unless you get it directly through the five hole, it’s hard to beat those pads. Still, it was good to see the Blues on the front foot.

Eventually, the Blues cashed in on their chances. On a seemingly innocuous play, Jordan Kyrou took a shot from the right circle that deflected off the defender’s stick and fluttered over the goalie’s shoulder for a 1-0 lead.

Instead of resting on their laurels, the Blues kept at it. They started pressuring the Avalanche into mistakes.

The Blues continued to give up some rushes against them, but the backchecking was much improved compared to the first game. That would pay off.

With St. Louis on their first power play of the game, the Avs were doing a good job of killing it and forced a partial break. The solid backcheck of Justin Faulk forced the Colorado player into Jordan Binnington, which drew a penalty and gave St. Louis a two-man advantage.

Things weren’t going too well at first, but the Blues held the zone. The puck got filtered through to David Perron on the left circle and he snapped one just inside the post. It took a deflection off a defender’s stick, but the Blues were up 2-0 after two periods.

The third period did not open up so well. The Avs came out hot and Binnington had to make an early skate save on Nathan MacKinnon.

Making matters worse, there was a hooking call on Perron before that play even materialized. The Avs scored early on the ensuing power play to make it 2-1.

There was a lot of time left in the period. Blues fans had to sweat.

The Avs were coming. They pressured and created chances – enough to take the shot lead for a time.

The Blues kept calm. They forced some poor passes by Colorado and came up with a two-on-one.

Perron did the smart thing and took the shot. He caught Kuemper with the glove slightly out of position and made it 3-1.

Uncharacteristically, the Blues put the game away. I say that a bit tongue in cheek, but it always feels like empty net goals are a rare thing. Brandon Saad got a good pass through the middle, tucked it home and the Blues claimed the win, 4-1.

Pros: Binnington

Jordan Binnington was not the hero we saw in Game 1. Thank goodness for that because I don’t know if he could’ve survived.

Nevertheless, he still faced 30-plus shots. There were some pretty good ones in there as well.

The stop on MacKinnon prior to the Avs power play was a huge save. Some might argue it lost some luster since Colorado scored shortly after that, but it kept their star player quiet for the night.

Binnington made a strong save on Valeri Nichushkin and stood his ground to earn the penalty. He could have easily gone tomato face and chasing him down, but Binnington understood the situation and giving his team a two-man advantage.

Cons: Defense jumping too much

The tricky thing for the Blues in this series is that to be successful, their defense has to present an offensive threat. St. Louis’ best players on the back side are all puck movers and can chip in the occasional goal.

The problem becomes when jumping into the play leaves holes at the back. Maybe you blame the forwards for not being aware and coming back to help, but the bottom line is that defenders going deep into the zone caused a few problems.

It is a very thin line. You don’t want to take away guy’s ability to pinch in.

St. Louis just has to watch it because they left the back end open to counter attacks a lot.

Pros: Faceoffs

Midway through the game, the Blues had already won more faceoffs than the entirety of Game 1. That was part of the reason the Blues struggled so much, since they couldn’t gain the puck off draws.

The Blues won 61% of their faceoffs. Beyond the situational wins, just winning that many faceoffs puts you in a better way.

When you win faceoffs, you either have a quick look up ice to get it out of your own zone, or get set up in the offensive zone. Put simply, you’re just not chasing the game nearly as much.

That is a huge key when Colorado is so good at puck possession as it is. Winning faceoffs helped the Blues maintain more possession, which turned momentum.

Pros: Perron

By proxy, you could give a pro to the entire line. Ryan O’Reilly continues to be the Blues best overall player in this series and maybe the playoffs.

Pavel Buchnevich still hasn’t looked like his 30-goal scoring self, but he was much more effective. Nevertheless, it was Perron that did the finishing.

I don’t care about tipped pucks or goaltenders that should have made the save. Perron got two by Kuemper, regardless.

Perron had the wherewithal to take the shots, which is something a couple of his teammates have been reluctant to do. He fired the puck from the near circle and snuck it between the goalie and the post. It took a tip, but you have to take the shot to even get some luck.

On the two-on-one, Perron knew to shoot. He could easily have forced a saucer pass to Buchnevich, which is something the Blues did all year long. Instead, he just snapped the puck on net.

It should have been saved. There is little doubt there. Shooters shoot, however and it paid off.

Overview

St. Louis deserved to win this game. As a fan, we see the mistakes here or there and quake in our boots every time the Avalanche get into the offensive zone with speed or numbers.

However, when you view the entire 60 minutes, the Blues did not really let the Avalanche into this game. When there was an opportunity against, Binnington had the answer except for one time.

It was a pretty impressive performance. It was not dominant, but you’re simply not going to have those kinds of performances against a team the quality of Colorado.

St. Louis did not luck into this win. They earned it.

If they had won Game 1, that would have been a lucky win. This one was deserved.

Now, the Blues have to refocus. They cannot have a hiccup the way they did in their first home game against Minnesota.

That loss was bad enough, but Colorado will hang 10 on you if you’re that sloppy. Play Blues hockey and just get through the first period with no score or maybe a 1-0 lead and St. Louis will have every opportunity to win that one.