The St. Louis Blues knew they had a tough task ahead of them once they left their home. Trying to end a six-game losing streak is hard enough, but facing one of the hottest teams in the NHL is even worse.
The Boston Bruins have gotten off to one of the league’s best starts. Conversely, after winning their first three games, the Blues have looked like one of the worst league.
The first couple minutes, it looked like the Blues were going to be ok. After shutting down a two-on-one, they were connecting on some passes in the offensive zone and got the first couple shots on goal.
As has been the case during the last handful of games, once things went poorly, they really went poorly. The Blues barely troubled the Bruins during three first-period power plays.
The Bruins scored quite early in their first power play of the game. Unlike the Blues, Boston moved the puck ceaselessly and eventually found the soft spot in the defense in the middle to make it 1-0.
St. Louis kept the lead at just that one goal, which was a good thing that they haven’t bee able to do. They could not even come close to challenging the Bruins, with only six shots in the opening frame.
The worry was things would get out of control in the second period since the Blues have been horrible in the middle frame. However, they looked a bit more focused and had some early offense, though still not grade-A scoring chances.
What was good to see was the effort and the care. That eventually turned into offense.
The Blues took advantage of a turnover and sprang a counter attack. Brayden Schenn went the full length of the rink and scored on a give and go with Jordan Kyrou to make it 1-1.
For the first time in quite some time, the Blues were alive and well in the third period. What is more is that the Blues actually looked dangerous.
They missed some open nets and missed the net in general, keeping their shot total behind the Bruins. Still, they were hanging right with the Bruins for good stretches.
On the negative side, the Bruins were able to hem the Blues in on several occasions.
Special teams continued to be the story of the game. Ryan O’Reilly took a penalty and the Blues just could not get the puck out enough.
Boston won a faceoff with the power play dwindling. Niko Mikkola got too agressive, challenging the puck carrier on the boards, leaving Patrice Bergeron open in the slot and he made it 2-1.
Another turnover by the Blues led to a Boston transition with under four to go. Trent Frederic just flipped one to goal and it snuck through Jordan Binnington, who was screened but needed to make the save, to make it 3-1.
Cons: Power play
While I whole-heartedly disagree with all the online chatter about David Perron being the big difference for the Blues winning and losing, I do agree that he’s a huge hole on this team’s power play. They simply do not have a shooting threat right now, which allows penalty killers to just challenge everyone right away.
It’s one thing to go 0-3 for a game. It’s worse to go 0-3 in one period. It has to be the absolute worst to not even look like an NHL power play.
The Blues got two shots on their first one, none on their second and barely any looks on the third. What was the absolute most embarrassing was the passing.
On the Blues last power play in the first period, they honestly gave up more shorthanded breaks than they had looks at goal, let alone shots. They were just throwing the puck anywhere, hoping someone would be there and often they were – just in the wrong colored jersey.
Pros: A little fight
At this stage of a near-record losing streak, you have to find anything you can that might be positive. Considering the Blues were playing the team at the top of the NHL, they showed well for awhile.
The Blues had a good second period for the first time since their second win of the year. They were the better team for much of the second period, though not enough to really get it rolling.
St. Louis also had some strong push in the third period as well. There were too many times when they got hemmed into their own zone, but at least they were getting looks instead of looking like an AHL team going against an All-Star team opponent.
Brayden Schenn was leading by example. Tarasenko and Buchnevich showed flashes and Kyrou had a little bit of confidence by the end.
It’s a small thing, but maybe it’s the seed that grows.
Well, the hope was that the game against the New York Islanders was the slightly better performance that did not end in victory. Now, we have to hope this loss to Boston is that game.
The Blues did enough to at least give them a chance to win. They just didn’t have enough offense to really put the fear into the Bruins.
We can blame the defense and the goaltending – yes, Binnington needed to stop that third goal. However, like in football, when the offense can’t keep hold of the puck, then your defense will wear out.
The thing that is extremely disappointing and concerning, is the passing and overall execution. St. Louis kept giving the puck directly to Boston time after time.
I get when you’re struggling you try to make a big play to bust out of it. However, you have to be able to see an opposing color in the way of these passes and not make that.
When things are going horribly, you have to keep it uber-simple. Forcing things only complicates matters.
Eventually, this streak has to end. Maybe it’ll end against the Philadelphia Flyers or maybe they tie the team record for most losses in a row.
Whatever the case, the Blues just have to play better somehow. This isn’t a case of one or two or even four or five guys not playing well. St. Louis has at least 90% of the team playing poorly. The ones that are consistent with effort are the fourth line and you can’t expect much out of them.