St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 18 Vs Anaheim

St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk (72)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk (72)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Familiarity can breed contempt. The St. Louis Blues certainly became familiar with the Anaheim Ducks over the last few days.

It’s odd to play a Pacific Division team in quick succession, but even more strange to see them within a week. I’m sure it’s happened before, but it feels unheard of to face one of them twice in three days and also have both games in the same city.

That’s what happened to the Blues. They beat the Ducks on Saturday in St. Louis, only to face the same team at the Enterprise Center on Monday.

Things got off to as good a start as they could for the Blues. Just 11 seconds in, Noel Acciari scored on a partial breakaway, slipping it through the five-hole for a 1-0 lead.

The Ducks calmed down from there, generating some good looks. Jordan Binnington made some fine saves to keep the lead through the first few minutes.

I’m not sure if the Blues thought things would be easy like Saturday or if the Ducks actually played that well. Whatever the case, they relied far too much on grade-A saves from Binnington.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t stop them all. The Ducks scored on a deflected puck in the final minute of first period.

St. Louis made some early adjustments for the second. Just like the first period, they came out with a great first shift and almost scored, but did draw a penalty.

Despite a golden chance for Jordan Kyrou on a partial break, the power play did very little overall. They never established any kind of shooting lanes to get the puck through.

The entire second period was much ado about nothing. Both teams traded looks at goal, but while the Blues outshot the Ducks for the period, it didn’t feel like they outplayed them other than marginally.

St. Louis came alive a little at the end of the second. Neither team got a goal though.

The third period was the same for a good stretch. It took several minutes for the Blues to get their first shot on goal.

As the game went on, it seemed both teams were determined to see who could miss the net more. Both had opportunities to score and take the lead and kept shooting wide or over the net. That would cost the Ducks dearly at the end.

The Blues took the lead with just over four minutes left in the game. On the power play, Justin Faulk got set up on the far circle and snapped one high to the blocker side.

Anaheim missed a couple sure goals that could have tied the game. As it happened, just following a missed open net, the Blues went down and scored on an empty net as Acciari sealed the 3-1 win.

Pros: Acciari

The St. Louis Blues have a pretty good history of third and fourth line players that step up and make big moments for their team. Vladimir Sobotka is one, Ivan Barbashev and Sammy Blais have been others and those are just the names that come to mind immediately.

We might as well put Noel Acciari on that list. He’s just been a solid player in all facets for the Blues recently.

He had two goals in this game, giving him five for the season. He showed some soft hands and good skills to maneuver in close to goal when scoring that opener just 11 seconds into the game.

Acciari was a physical presence as well. His three hits were tied for the team lead for the contest.

Just to shine a light on what kind of game he had, Acciari really earned the trust of the coaches. His 19:20 ice time was third among all forwards, trailing only Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn. He was on the ice for nearly four minutes more than Ryan O’Reilly.

Cons: Relying on Binnington

It’s great to have a hot goaltender and have confidence in them. It’s another thing to force them to bail you out.

The Blues have needed Binnington far too much in their last couple games against the Ducks. While Anaheim is not as untalented as their record would suggest, they are still at the bottom of the league.

You’re not going to wipe the ice with any team in the NHL regularly. That said, you shouldn’t be allowing around 20 of Anaheim’s 28 shots to be in prime scoring position.

Add to that how many chances the Ducks actually screwed up and this game could easily have gone the other way.

Thankfully Binnington was on his game. It’s hard to tell how good or bad the defending is because so many of these plays are results of boneheaded plays that put guys in bad position as opposed to actual bad defending on a set play.

Pros: Special teams

This one was difficult to put on there. The Blues power play did so little on their first two attempts that it seemed impossible to think positively of it.

However, when you view the game as a whole, you can’t help but notice that the Blues won because of special teams. That’s a literal statement, not just a figurative one.

Anaheim had two power plays, both of which came in the third period with the game in the balance. St. Louis’ penalty kill did their job and kept them off the board in a go-ahead scenario.

Add to that the game winning goal coming on the power play and it was all sealed.

That last power play was a good and bad example of the Blues this year. They couldn’t generate any shooting lanes, so all it was was pass, pass, pass.

However, it also showcased the team’s ability to move the puck and have sustained pressure. The goal was pretty much a result of keeping a penalty kill unit out there, tiring them and then finally striking. The worry was that would not happen because they simply couldn’t get to that last step during their first few tries.


This continues to be an odd, but interesting team.

At their best, they can play with and beat the very best in this league. You don’t win seven in a row without being good.

At their worst, they are really bad. Perhaps they’re not Anaheim or Arizona bad, but bad.

We still see too much of both sides of that coin to truly know which is more true. We want to believe the team that is winning games left and right is what this team really is.

But, we also saw all those flaws pop up against Anaheim in both games. They’re still sloppy with the puck, turn it over in the worst possible spots, hand golden opportunities to their opponents and let their goalie face odd-man rushes or back door plays.

The main difference right now is that isn’t costing them. Binnington is making the saves or the defenders get back and make a play, which was no helping.

The Blues are getting timely goals, some from stars and some from role players. You want your big guns scoring, but as long as someone in the correct color gets the goal, we shouldn’t really care who.

We probably shouldn’t expect Acciari to score 27 goals, which is roughly his current pace. However, you take these hot streaks with a big smile.

If nothing else, watching the games is enjoyable again. The Blues are bound to lose at some point, but as long as it’s not an embarassment like it was during that eight-game losing streak, we can handle it.

Next. Famous Blues Father/Son Combos. dark

Maybe keep that L at bay until the win streak hits double digits though. You won’t always have Anaheim to beat up on since they’re not an opponent until March.

Get as many points as you can.