The St. Louis Blues came home with some energy after an enthusiastic overtime win in Florida. However, playing against the top team in the Central Division was not going to be an easy task.
The Dallas Stars have gotten off to a hot start, getting some separation against some of the other teams within the Central. The Blues needed an early-season win to cut into that lead some.
The Stars weren’t going to be easy to push over. The Stars got off to the early offensive start, outshooting the Blues 6-3 in the first handful of minutes in the period.
Then, the Blues came to life. Despite some icings that could have been avoided, the Blues started testing the Stars.
St. Louis reversed the shot battle, getting 11 on goal by the end of the period. They seemed destined to score on a shot from the right circle, but Scott Wedgewood came up with a sliding save to keep it scoreless.
The Blues opened up the second period with good energy too. Unfortunately, their luck did not change.
St. Louis came in with speed and connected on a one-timer for Brayden Schenn. He missed the net and, as has happened so often this season, the rebound sprang a counter attack and the Stars scored. Jordan Binnington probably should have had it, but Dallas took the 1-0 lead.
Nathan Walker got into a fight shortly after that. While the Blues were not playing without energy, it did send a buzz into the crowd.
The Blues kept creating opportunities in the second period. They could not hit the net though, missing several chances.
Despite some decent play, the Blues took a late penalty to give Dallas a power play to end the frame. Though the team has not been good of late, they only allowed one shot and killed it off to go into intermission only down 1-0.
Though St. Louis had good starts to both periods prior, the third was not quite the same. The Blues were not bad, but there was not nearly enough desperation.
They kept passing up shot opportunities, either worried it would get blocked or trying to connect on a pretty play. When you’re losing, you can’t do that and it would cost them.
Dallas came down on a rush play and the Stars top line connected on some of the best passes we saw all night. The back door play was there and the Stars took a 2-0 lead.
The Blues started getting north with a little more simplicity after that. They got more meat and potatoes play and that rewarded them.
Josh Leivo took a good shot and Brandon Saad had a beautiful tip in. The game was 2-1 with plenty of time left.
Sadly, the Blues just keep getting in their own way. Despite having momentum on their side, it seems like every mistake ends up in the back of their net.
That happened again to make it 3-1. Niko Mikkola had a shot blocked that he needed to get through and Jason Robertson took it the other way with speed and sniped one past the blocker.
The Blues pulled the goaltender, which never seems to work for them any longer. The Stars scored almost immediately and the game finished 4-1.
Pros: First period
Though the Blues couldn’t hit the back of the net, their overall play in the first period was quite good. There were sloppy passes and turnovers, but you’ll never completely get rid of that stuff.
In terms of a start and a finish to the opening 20 minutes, it was a good period of Blues hockey.
The offense was clicking from the middle portion of the period and onward. It was another case of trying to be too cute that cost them.
The Blues proved later in the game that the simple plays – the meat and potatoes stuff – gets them results. They played well enough to get a goal or two in this first period, but tried too many cutesy passes.
Cons: Third period
In a reversal from their game in Florida, the Blues started well and finished poorly. You have to give credit to the Stars for forcing errors and capitalizing, but there was a lot to be desired by the Blues.
Firstly, where was the hot start we saw in the first and second periods? You’re only down by a goal and the Blues just sort of dip their toes into the water coming out of the second intermission.
Why did the offense completely disappear? Again, you look to the Stars for stopping the Blues from getting to their game, but there needed to be more urgency and more intensity.
When you enter the final period only down by a goal and the game is well within reach at 2-1, how in the world do you only get five shots on goal in the entire third period? It’s shameful, frankly.
The Blues again could not hit the broad side of a barn. The broadcast focused on Wedgewood a lot and he made some very good saves, but the Blues helped him out a lot by not even putting the puck on target.
This statement is complete hyperbole, but I’m not sure I can remember a team that honestly either hits the goalie in the chest or completely misses the target as much as the 2022-23 Blues. Pick a corner and hit it.
It’s just one loss and the game was a lot closer than 4-1 would have you believe. The other side to that coin is that the Blues probably should have just lost their fourth in a row.
They earned the win against Florida, but they also lucked out. If the Panthers could play reasonable defense, we’d be talking about another multi-game losing streak right now.
The Blues have injuries and illness and guys playing on lines they’ve never even practiced with. That’s still no excuse.
There needs to be a certain amount of accountability for this team and there just isn’t. We all love the guys that suit up for our team, but even the most positive among us knows that this isn’t the most skilled, fastest or talented team out there.
For whatever reason, they keep playing like they are. They want to make pretty passes and dangle and get on the highlight reels and that’s just not their game.
The Blues have more skill on paper than they’ve had in quite some time and it’s still not how this team is built. We should no longer expect the ferocious forechecking of 2019, but there still needs to be some responsibility.
Guys aren’t making simple plays and when they try, they’re making simple plays look hard. Mikkola cannot get that puck knocked down when Dallas made it 3-1.
Binnington needed to have a couple of those goals. He kept the team in this game for a long time, but he knows he also let in a couple shots that might have been good shots, but he could have had.
The offense is just an enigma. There’s too much talent to be this poor.
One of the few things I disagree with Chief about is the quality over quantity for shots. It’s a great theory and you don’t want to waste chances, but this current squad takes that philosophy and sprints with it as fast as DC’s Flash.
Eventually, you just need to get the dang puck on net. The last two or three wins have not really come because the Blues were just better, but they did the small things like screening the goalie and getting traffic in front for rebounds.
Stop the incessant cross-ice passes that are so telegraphed a blind man could see them. It’s one thing to try making plays, but the Blues just have everything go the other way.
Miss a shot and somehow the puck off the glass comes right out and leads to an odd-man rush. It’s beyond annoying.
Dallas is much better than last year and better in this game than I’d normally give them credit for. When St. Louis keeps messing up the same things and keeps it close, you just get frustrated that they could be the first-place team if they’d get their heads out of their rears.
Hopefully a couple days off will do them good. Get some practice time in and, hopefully, get some guys healthy again. They’ll need it against Carolina.