After losing their fifth game in a row, the St. Louis Blues got a loud and clear message from their general manager, Doug Armstrong. They had better start righting the ship or there would be changes that the players would not like.
Logic says that kind of message had to sink in. The question was whether the lesson could be applied against the New York Islanders or if the Blues would have one of those game where you turn it around, but don’t have the luck to win.
St. Louis seemed determined to not let that happen. Early on, the Blues had a lot of jump and actually got shots on goal.
They outshot New York 6-2 early on. While that’s not a lot, or a huge margin, it was still important to get the offense rolling.
As is typical when the team is not playing well, you worry that they’ll get a bunch of shots and nothing to show for it. It was trending that direction when Vladimir Tarasenko finally scored.
Torey Krug took a blast from the left point. Whether he intended a left-side deflection and that was missed or if he intended it as a billiards pass to Tarasenko is immaterial, since it worked out and Vlady scooped it into the top of the net.
Sadly, all those good vibes dried up in a matter of moments in the second period. St. Louis couldn’t clear the puck during the Islanders first push into the zone and eventually they scored on a back-door deflection. It was different than the Kings goals in that it was 90% luck, but it still was frustrating.
The Blues got undisciplined after that. Niko Mikkola took a penalty not long after the goal and then Alexey Toropchenko took a stupid cross checking penalty to give the Islanders a five-on-three.
That’s when things got really bad. When Mikkola’s penalty ended, Ryan O’Reilly tried to spring him on a breakaway. It led to a turnover that did not get out of the zone and the Islanders scored on another back-door play, giving Jordan Binnington no shot.
The Islanders added another one not long after. Another failure to get into the zone led to a turnover at the attacking blue line. New York banked one in to take a 3-1 lead.
Proving that nothing had changed other than some first period effort, the Blues let up a fourth goal in 10 minutes. This time everyone just backed in, literally into the crease, and the Islanders just pushed one in during the confusion.
When it rains, it pours as the Blues continued to have no luck. They scored a goal to make it 4-2, but the referees made up a goalie interference call to negate that.
The Blues played better in the third period, but at that point it’s just too late and you need some luck. The Blues got none.
They had a second review not go their way. By the time they actually did score a goal, it felt empty because that goal could have technically been the tying score, but only made it 4-2.
Robert Thomas whipped a shot off the defender’s skate for a power play goal. It was just luck, but St. Louis needed anything positive to go their way.
St. Louis just couldn’t muster enough in the third. They allowed an empty net goal from three zones away, giving the Islanders a 5-2 win.
Cons: Goalie interference
First off, this was not goalie interference. Secondly, while I understand it is hard to have consistency in subjective calls, how can there be such inconsistency?
I have seen goaltenders get mauled and have guys land on top of them and the refs will count the goal. Then, this one gets reversed?
You could make an argument if they had disallowed the goal on the ice, but it was called a goal. What evidence was there to disallow it?
Ivan Barbashev had a right to crash the net for a clearly loose puck. He stood up and the only thing still touching the goaltender was Barby’s stick and only because the damn goalie was laying on it.
In what universe is that interference? It’s disgusting. I highly doubt it makes a difference the way things have gone for the Blues, but it would at least give them a shot late in the period.
Cons: Power play
Just about everything that went well in 2021-22 is going poorly in 2022-23. The power play is among those things.
The Blues got a power play goal to get their second “official” goal of the game. However, even including that goal, the play of the special teams unit has not been good.
They struggle to get in the zone. Their passes are far too predictable.
Despite the fact they have the extra skater, things move far too slowly. The book is out on the Blues because teams know they can pressure without fear of giving up the back door because St. Louis just freaks out and flings the puck hoping someone is there.
You have to give credit to the Islanders. They made the adjustments in the second period and completely shifted the game.
That said, the Blues just aren’t doing enough to counteract anything. We’ve said for at least three games in a row that they need to focus on shutting something down once things seem to turn against them.
Instead, they just keep banging their head on the wall and looking surprised when they get the same results. How in the world can you continually allow three and four and five goals in a single period?
It was only four on this night, but why are you unable to get things clamped down?
It was a bad luck game to an extent. The Blues had two goals that were reviewed and the review did not go their way, so that impacts things.
The goalie interference was ridiculous. There’s disagreement about how much the net coming off should have affected the other one too.
It doesn’t matter. You have to find a way to not hang your head immediately when things don’t go your way.
I get it. If I was in that situation, I might have the same reaction, but you can’t be sitting on the bench gobsmacked when these things happen. The opponent sees that and are now like sharks with blood in the water.
Even constant optimists like Darren Pang, Jamie Rivers and Bernie Federko are being critical during the games and intermissions.
It’s up to the players to find a way. They didn’t do it on this night and it only gets harder as they travel to Boston. They have to find a way.