The St. Louis Blues came into northern New York riding a seven-game winning streak. They hoped to push it to eight to completely wipe out their losing streak, but the Buffalo Sabres had other ideas.
Buffalo got on the board just 18 seconds into the contest. Though St. Louis recovered throughout the first period, that basically set the tone for the rest of the night.
The Blues just never really found their game, even when they played better. In the first period, they had 23 attempts on goal, but only put eight of those on net.
The defense was shaky as well. The Blues allowed 11 shots, which isn’t terrible, but the Sabres had fewer overall chances, meaning they were hitting the net when it counted and testing Jordan Binningtno.
St. Louis built up a little more pressure at the end of the period and drew a penalty. They finally made that count.
After little success, they finally managed to get the puck sustained in the zone. A shot from out high deflected off Pavel Buchnevich’s skate, off the defender’s skate and in to make it 1-1.
That was the last time the Blues could feel good about anything in the second period. Buffalo took over from there.
Two minutes after the game was tied, the Blues had a horrendous line change. This led to a three-on-one, which Buffalo converted.
The penalty kill fell apart as the period went on. After a Jordan Kyrou penalty, the Sabres connected on a one-timer from the right circle to make it 3-1.
Then, the referees called a questionable hook on Nick Leddy. Jeff Skinner made the Blues defense look like fools and then backhanded a rising shot to make it 4-1.
St. Louis was lucky they didn’t allow any more. The Sabres were buzzing, but hit some more posts and missed some nets too.
The Blues got another power play early in the third. It was quite disjointed, with the Blues not keeping the zone at first and then Robert Thomas fanning on a partially open net with the power play going by the wayside.
The bad Blues just had too much control of this team. Their passing was off, the skating was bad and the decision making was poor.
The bad luck returned too. Just when it seemed like the Blues had some momentum with Buchnevich scoring his second, it was called back because Vladimir Tarasenko mishandled the puck and put himself offside.
Jack Quinn added a couple goals in the third period, both on odd-man rushes. That pushed the lead to 6-1 before the Blues could finally get another one in.
In the final two minutes, Brayden Schenn jammed home a loose puck to make it 6-2. It was too little, too late.
The winning streak came to an end with two tough games in Florida on the horizon after Thanksgiving.
Cons: Penalty kill
Whether by luck or by skill, the Blues have been winning games because of their special teams lately. That was not the case in this game.
They allowed the Sabres to score on two of the three power plays they were awarded. The issue was that there wasn’t a lot of movement.
It’s one thing for a guy, or two, to look fatigued. It seemed like every Blues player out there had the straight legs and were just reaching.
With as quick as Buffalo was in their passing and stick handling, it just became too difficult to contain.
Funny enough, Buchnevich’s goal was not even something he attempted. However, it went in because he was in front of the net, causing havoc.
Sometimes goal scorers still need a little luck. He got it there.
The goal that did not count was a goal scorer’s goal. Buchnevich snapped it from the slot and got it through the legs of the goaltender.
It was a shame that Tarasenko was offside. It was a fantastic pass and a good finish.
Nevertheless, Buchnevich was one of the few bright spots. He’s got four goals and seven points in his last four games.
Cons: Just about everything
The frustrating thing about the Blues right now is that the entire team is either good or very bad. On this night, they all were very bad.
There were flashes here or there by a couple guys. Ryan O’Reilly seemed to be trying hard and Thomas and Kyrou had a handful of good shifts.
That was it though. A handful of good shifts by less than five guys just isn’t going to cut it.
The passing was terrible again. The decision making was awful.
Every goal could have been prevented before a shot was even taken. One goal came when Torey Krug was left in no-man’s land because Buchnevich strangely let the puck go by on the wall.
Krug, again, looked silly trying to defend from a stand still after immediately coming off the bench. That’s not on him – it’s on whoever felt the need to make the change in that exact moment.
The odd-man rushes were either because of guys getting caught too far up or just bad puck management. As Craig Berube pointed out in postgame comments, the team wasn’t physical enough either.
St. Louis was credited with 26 hits, but if the statistician was that generous, the Blues needed to have 40-plus to get themselves in this game. They let Buffalo’s skill guys just toe drag the puck like it was a training session.
What’s worse is the entire team looked fatigued. I won’t even say tired because I do think they were trying, but for whatever reason, they could not move their legs properly. Some nights it’s like that. How it can be like that for 18 skaters all at once is the puzzling thing.
I haven’t even checked social media, but I’m sure the anti-Binnington trolls were out. There simply wasn’t anything he could’ve done. Maybe he needed to be positioned differently on the very first goal, but there was no chance on any of the others.
Naysayers will say the team played better without Tarasenko. Again, this isn’t on him. If your entire team doesn’t have legs and can’t overcome some obstacles, then they’re not going to get things done in the playoffs.
Going forward, let’s hope this was a one off. The Blues can’t afford to just keep having streak after streak. There needs to be some stability.
Facing two of the best offenses in the league in Florida and Tampa won’t make things easy.