The St. Louis Blues were riding high after their shutout victory over a high-powered Edmonton Oilers team. The worry is always a let down in the next one, especially with a slightly desperate Winnipeg Jets team waiting for them.
That worry was alleviated with a strong first period by the Blues. In fact, St. Louis probably should have had a handful of goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, they ran into another hot goaltender. Though they beat Jack Campbell early on, they could not do the same on Connor Hellebuyck.
However, Thomas Greiss was equal to the task. He had to make several quality saves, including one sprawling to his left on a rebound.
The teams went back and forth, though the Blues had a slight edge in the run of play. They failed to do much with two first period power plays through.
Oddly, Brayden Schenn did a blatant retaliation after the whistle and right in front of the ref at the end of the period. The Blues killed off the first period portion of the power play, but you worry about having fresh ice to finish off the man advantage.
The Blues killed off the remaining portion of the penalty with relative ease. Greiss had to make a few saves, but he saw the puck pretty clearly on almost every shot.
The Blues just didn’t seem to get going offensively in the second though. They controlled the puck well enough, but were not really generating many shots, let alone scoring chances.
Eventually, they cracked defensively. For some reason, Nick Leddy glided toward the same corner that Colton Parayko was battling in, which left the front of the net open. That allowed Mark Scheifele to slip a rebound chance around Greiss’ outstretched left pad.
The Jets started taking control as the second period went on. They never had a firm grasp as the Blues had a few pushes here and there, but they were the better team.
St. Louis’ best chance late in the second was a shorthanded, two-on-one. Alexey Toropchenko outwaited the defender, but his pass was too far behind Ryan O’Reilly and they didn’t get a clean shot away.
All in all, the Blues were a little fortunate to only be down one goal after 40 minutes.
As poor as the offense was in the second period, it was just as paltry in the third, if not more so. Not only were there not many shots, but the Blues weren’t even really pushing into the zone very much.
They relied on Greiss to keep them in the game. While not as athletic as his teammate, Greiss was calm in the net and making solid, positional saves by keeping to the top of his crease.
Unfortunately, his solid performance was all for naught. The Blues just never got any offense going and the Jets were allowed to get too much rolling.
Greiss couldn’t keep them out forever and Winnipeg added two more goals in the latter stages of the third period. It wasn’t surprising since the Blues got outshot almost two to one.
Winnipeg added an empty net goal just to rub some salt in the wound. The Jets shut the Blues out for the first time in almost a year, winning 4-0.
Greiss was really the only consistently good thing for the Blues in this game. Plenty of fans will look at the score and wonder how that can be, but if you watched the game, you know.
Greiss kept the Blues in this contest far longer than they deserved. He faced 13 shots in the first, nine in the second and a whopping 21 in the third.
Many of those were high danger chances. Despite his age and plenty of doubt coming from fans and media, Greiss found his game early and was on top of it the entire time.
When you have little to no support either offensively or defensively, there’s only so much a goalie can do. Greiss gave this team every opportunity to win he could.
Cons: Everything else
As well as Greiss played, everything else was bad for the Blues after the first period. Maybe the offense got spooked by Hellebuyck or maybe they were not looking forward to the long bus ride to the airport that isn’t in Winnipeg for some reason.
Whatever the reason, the Blues were quite bad in the second and third periods. There was little to no offense, having five and seven shots when you need offense the most.
The defense started lapsing too. When you’re hemmed in, you’ll make mistakes, but too often the Blues defenders were facing their own goal, which often means you weren’t ready for the play or were out of position.
The power play didn’t do squat. They only had two power plays and had some good zone time, but there really wasn’t a true, grade-A chance in any of those four minutes.
I guess the penalty kill did its job, killing off five Jets power plays. Even then, they just didn’t seem that dominant. They too relied heavily on Greiss.
You’re going to have some clunkers in an 82 game season, so I’m not totally eaten up over this game. It’s just disappointing to have such a poor performance just one game after you shut down one of the better offenses in the league.
On top of it, you needed to really put the dagger in Winnipeg. They were struggling coming into this game and in some upheaval with their coach out of the game sick.
St. Louis needed to jump all over them. Instead, they shrunk from the occasion after being frustrated by a good goalie.
The Blues are a little disjointed due to some early season injuries. However, that’s no excuse for the effort.
While I thought the defenders made boneheaded plays on some of the goals, I almost don’t even blame them as much as you normally would. Like a football team, you can’t defend the entire game and expect your defense not to get tired.
The forwards have to do something and they did not. The passing was atrocious and you can talk about lack of chemistry all you want, but at the NHL level you have to hit the guy in the same color jersey whether you’re fully comfortable with him or not.
It’s one loss. I don’t expect this to carry over to the home game against Edmonton on Wednesday.
However, we don’t know who will be healthy that is currently hurt, if anyone. So, these current players have to find a way to get that next-man up mentality and also play better in the second period like they did in 2021-22.