The St. Louis Blues came into Edmonton with an unblemished 2-0 record, though they had played the fewest games in the league. Nevertheless, the media had dubbed this an early season test for the Blues.
This seemed slightly puzzling since the Edmonton Oilers were 2-2 coming in and allowing almost as many goals as they score. It’s a star driven sports world, so it was about whether the Blues could contain or hang offensively with the Oilers.
The Blues would take the former route in this game. It was a tightly contested affair the entire way, but St. Louis was up to the challenge.
Despite having solid five-on-five play, it was the power play that got St. Louis on the board to start. Torey Krug got the setup from Vladimir Tarasenko and the Blues were up 1-0 reasonably early in the contest.
After that, both teams clamped down. It turned into a goaltending battle, which was not anything anyone expected considering the offensive firepower the Oilers have and St. Louis coming off a top-five goals scored in 2021-22.
Jordan Binnington made several fantastic saves, including one with his glove from his belly in the second period. Conversely, Jack Campbell robbed the Blues on multiple occasions too.
Jordan Kyrou was particularly snake bitten by the Oilers goalie.
Though the game continued 1-0 into the late stages, you didn’t get the feeling the Blues were overwhelmed. They never got under siege and kept their composure the entire time.
It took an unbelievable Justin Faulk shot from the corner into an empty net to get some insurance. The Blues won 2-0.
Pros: Special teams
While there were not a ton of opportunities for either team in this game, St. Louis came up huge twice in this game on special teams.
Clearly, the first, and really only, needed goal was paramount. The Blues got an early power play and made the Oilers pay when Krug snapped one in.
Given the fact the Blues held that lead the entire game, it was a crucial way to score. That was even more true based on how well the goalies played.
Then, late in the game, there was a poor call given against Nathan Walker. You felt that was how the Oilers were going to tie it, given how well they can move the puck and having an extra man.
Instead, the Blues just buckled down. They limited the chances on that penalty kill and just kept it all simple and cleared the puck with authority.
Normally, we limit the good and bad to what is going on with the Blues. However, from the St. Louis perspective, the level of play for the Oilers goaltender was definitely a drawback.
Jack Campbell is a talented player, but can be quite hot and cold. St. Louis faced the hot version in this contest.
Campbell stoned St. Louis several times throughout this game. He had a particular interest in keeping Kyrou off the board.
That was particularly annoying for the Blues because they need that line of Ryan O’Reilly, Brandon Saad and Kyrou to get going. They all had their chances, but Campbell was not about to let that happen.
As a whole, the Blues played pretty well offensively. They had 22 shots, several good chances and played their style. They simply couldn’t beat Campbell other than the one power play they got.
Pros: Defense and goaltending
Counteracting Campbell’s play was Jordan Binnington and those in front of him. I don’t believe in statement games this early in the season, but the way the Blues won was definitely a statement.
The Blues were never under siege because the team played a solid defensive style and rarely had a breakdown to allow the high-end talent for the Oilers to get going. When there was a breakdown, Binnington had their back.
As mentioned, Binnington made several great saves. I’m still not quite sure how he got that one in the second period.
Complimenting one another, the defense had Binner’s back when he faltered. If he made a save and there was a rebound available, there was always a defender there to clear the puck or deny any shooting opportunity.
It was a great team performance with everyone filling the gaps.
As mentioned, I don’t buy into statement games when it’s only your third game. However, the way the Blues won made it impressive.
Nobody predicted a goaltending duel with two of the top offenses in the league. That’s what we got and it was fun to see.
Everyone loves goals, but when you still get some offensive looks and it’s the defense or the goaltending that just make plays better than the offense, you can still be entertained. This was a very entertaining game despite the lack of scoing.
This does prove something I’ve said since the offseason. The Blues are a team that can win a multitude of ways.
They have enough size to outmuscle some teams. They have the skill to score with the best. St. Louis can defend and they can win with goaltending too.
You’ll rarely have all that clicking at once, but when you can do all those things well, then you’ll almost always have a chance to win a game. Again, it’s just the third game, but maybe people nationally will stop doubting this team.