The St. Louis Blues were up against the wall early in the season. They had just lost four regulation games for the first time ever under Craig Berube.
Making matters worse, they were playing Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. Over his career, Quick has been a huge thorn in the side of the Blues.
Early on, it looked like the Blues would be their own thorn. The team had jump, but they missed the net a lot in the first few minutes.
Los Angeles did the same, though they had the first couple shots of the contest. However, St. Louis mustered six unanswered shots once they got going.
They still couldn’t get out of their own way though. Vladimir Tarasenko had the best look of the period on a back door play, but shot it back across the grain into the body of Quick.
It seemed like the Blues were building momentum, but of course we can’t have good things. On a delayed penalty, the Kings connected on a back-door tip in as the LA player got in behind Torey Krug and it was 1-0.
St. Louis had some good shifts after that goal, but they couldn’t break their way through. Playing from behind again was not an ideal situation, but at least 1-0 felt manageable.
The second period was more of the same for the Blues in terms of how this losing streak has gone. St. Louis played fine in the first three minutes, but couldn’t get much going. Then the Kings took a 2-0 lead on another backdoor play.
Just when it looked like luck might be turning, the Blues got an odd-man rush and Jordan Kyrou decided to pass, which let Quick pokecheck it. On the next rush down the ice, the Kings hit ANOTHER backdoor play and it was 3-0.
The Blues took a penalty and the way things have gone, you know they were going to surrender another. It technically came at even strength, but after a skate save, the Kings one-handed tipped the puck to the back side and scored another one to make it 4-0.
St. Louis just shut off at that point, if they hadn’t already. The Kings made it 5-0 when Justin Faulk deflected a puck over Binnington’s shoulder, which brought Thomas Greiss into the game.
The Blues battled a little after that. The fourth line got them on the board when Alexey Toropchanko swatted in his own rebound.
There was still half a game to make a comeback, but when you need four more goals just to tie, it’s a tough hill to climb.
Cons: More snowballs
No, I don’t mean a goose egg, because the Blues did get on the board. By snowballs, I mean the Blues let things snowball in a short span yet again.
They simply cannot stop the bleeding. It’s bad enough to allow a lot of goals against, but they’re not even spread out.
St. Louis allows everything in a short amount of game time. The Kings scored three goals in under four minutes and four goals in just over six minutes – all of that in the second period.
The game is still close at 1-0 after one period. Even at 2-0, if you stop it and give yourself a chance in the third period, there is hope out there.
When you allow four unanswered goals, all by back door plays essentially, you deflate the building and demoralize yourselves.
Cons: Team defending
Many fans will point the finger at all six defenders for the goals against. At this point, that’s not doing anything.
Maybe those guys were responsible for the goal scoring play, but nobody in blue is playing defense very well. Top to bottom, there just isn’t attention to detail that would prevent the Kings from having their way.
The goalies are left out to dry because the defenders stop paying attention to who is behind them or where the most likely play is. The forwards put the defenders in bad positions by making boneheaded plays or passes, which often lead to odd-man rushes. Even when the numbers are even, back checkers are just drifting wherever and not taking things away.
All of that leads to bad luck plays. The goal that chased Binnington ramped off Faulk’s stick because he was reaching, trying too hard to make a play when you’ve got to just keep skating and try to muscle the guy off the puck – easy for me to say, but still.
If we’re honest, the Kings had taken their foot off the gas by the time Greiss got put into the net. However, given how he got lit up in his last outing, this was an important stretch for his confidence.
Greiss was calm and collected, which was needed since the Blues were still out of sorts in front of him. 11 saves isn’t a ton to write home about, but Greiss proved that he was not really the problem.
He was better in his rebound control, which helped. However, the chances were still there because the defense just isn’t doing their job, and that includes the forwards too.
If nothing else, picking out an 11-save performance by your backup as the only good thing shows you how bad things are for St. Louis right now.
We’ve reached that point where there’s nothing else to do. We can point fingers and the coaches can scream until they burst a vein, but it won’t change anything.
What is wrong with the Blues right now is wrong with all 18 skaters. The only people doing their job with consistency are the goaltenders and they’re getting no help.
Sure, Kyrou isn’t scoring and he looks lost. So does Ryan O’Reilly and he’s your team leader.
Vlady has gone pretty cold after a hot start to the season. Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas aren’t lighting the lamp as much as anyone would like either.
Krug and Faulk are having a rough time of it, knocking goals into their own net as often, or more, than they’re scoring them. Leddy has made plenty of mistakes and Parayko is not living up to his contract either.
The only line that shows fire just about every time they’re out there is the fourth line. The funny thing is that this fourth line has more scoring ability than just about any one the Blues have had in recent memory, but they are still a fourth line. You can’t expect them to lift you out of the doldrums.
It’s embarrassing to lose 5-1 in and of itself. To have four of those goals scored on almost the exact same play is just inexcusable.
Eventually, you have to recognize the pattern and stop it. Stop trying to score a three point goal because it doesn’t exist and just stop the opponent for a five to 10 minute stretch.
Refocus on the offense once things have calmed down. Pushing the issue is clearly making things worse and the Blues just let games slip from them in such short time spans that it’s hard to watch.
The Blues have the New York Islanders up next. They’re just above .500 and that’s likely a terrible thing for St. Louis right now. Teams with something to prove seem to be able to take advantage of the Blues with ferocity. Win or lose, don’t expect that one to be pretty.