The St. Louis Blues had built a four-game win streak by sweeping their western Canadian road trip. They wanted to keep that going with another solid performance in Seattle.
The Blues were playing another back-to-back, having played in Vancouver the night before. Despite being the less fresh team, they got off to a pretty good start.
They led the shot battle halfway through the first period, though they only had four on goal. In spite of both teams having early power plays, neither team really threatened very clearly.
The game flowed back and forth, but there were more misses than actual shots on goal. Unfortunately, when the Blues needed a Seattle miss, they didn’t get it.
The Blues were trying to get a line change, but coughed the puck up at the attacking blue line. That left a seam pass up the middle open, which led to a Ryan Donato breakaway and he finished it cleanly for the 1-0 lead.
The Kraken came out strong in the second period, getting five quick shots on goal and starting to get the Blues hemmed in. St. Louis’ best chance of the first five minutes was a breakaway for Alexey Toropchenko, who couldn’t get it off his backhand and scooped it right into the belly of the goaltender.
The Blues almost allowed a second goal not long after that. Yet another turnover at the attacking blue line during a line change led to a two-on-one break, but Thomas Greiss made a great post to post save with his left pad.
The pressure continued by a lot from Seattle. Greiss was keeping the Blues alive, but he couldn’t last forever.
Eventually, the Kraken got their second goal. With loads of traffic in front, a shot from the point went off a shin pad and to the left circle where the Kraken had Carson Soucy to pop it past a sprawled Greiss.
St. Louis never really tightened it up defensively. The Kraken got plenty more looks throughout the remainder of the second period, including ringing one off the post.
The Blues surrendered two in the final five minutes and change, which was disheartening since Greiss had played pretty well. The third goal was another breakaway and then the fourth was a bank shot off the skate of Greiss and in since he had come a little too far outside the paint.
The Blues had to kill off the remainder of a late period power play to open up the third period. They did that and that seemed to give them a glimmer of life, though not much.
St. Louis did get on the board in the first six minutes. Logan Brown took it off the wall, slipped it to Colton Parayko in the high slot and he scored to make it 4-1.
It looked like the Blues were going to let a third power play go by the boards without a score. It took 1:59 to get one in, but they did as Pavel Buchnevich snapped one from the left side over the glove hand to make it 4-2.
Unfortunately, though most Blues fans could tell you it’s not a good idea, Craig Berube pulled the goaltender with over four minutes left. St. Louis immediately lost the faceoff and the Kraken just went down and tucked it in for a 5-2 score.
That would be the final score. It was disappointing to lose, but the energy level was a problem all night.
Cons: Pulling the goalie
I wish I had the stats on it, but the Blues might be the worst team in the league with their own goaltender pulled. They almost always concede the empty net.
My problem with it is that the Blues have shown they are a far better team when it’s even strength, regardless of what the odds will tell you about having an extra skater. Anyone that points out Tarasenko’s goal with the goalie pulled fails to also say that made it five-on-five in terms of skaters, even if the Blues did have an empty net.
If nothing else, my problem with it is pulling the goaltender before you even have the puck. Berube knows far more about hockey than I do, but given everything we’ve seen from the Blues this year, at least wait until you win the draw and get set up. It puts far too much pressure on the faceoff win and the defenders to not let it out of the zone, none of which happened.
Pro/Con: Turning it around in the third
It’s always a good thing when the Blues start to find their groove. They got two goals and were battling back.
Personally, I’d like to see if they could’ve gotten a third before pulling the goalie, but I digress. Regardless, they started to play like they can, which was a good sign.
The worry is always that those bad habits creep back in. Playing better in the third period showed they know how to at least put a stop to the nonsense.
The problem is that they couldn’t do that all game long. I fully understand that the Blues have been given the short end of the stick with all these back-to-backs, but it just seems odd when you find that energy in the third period.
Logic would say you’d have the energy to start the game and it would wane as time went on. Instead, the Blues were mediocre in the first, bad in the second and played much more of their kind of game in the third.
It’s good to know it’s still in there. I would not automatically think another losing streak is on the horizon because of this game since the Blues put a stop to things in the third. However, it’s just disappointing to leave everything until the end.
Cons: Power play
Let’s not kid ourselves with Buchnevich’s goal. The power play was not good in this game.
How it has fared in the entire season is immaterial, frankly. Even if they had the top power play in the league, it would not change things.
1-3 looks better on the stat sheet, but they accomplished nothing for five minutes of ice time. In that final minute of the third power play, we finally saw some passes connect and a sustained amount of possession and creativity.
Credit to Seattle’s penalty kill. They knew the Blues were not connecting right away and they turned up the pressure.
That’s the problem with St. Louis right now. The book is out on them. If they are not hitting the tape with every pass, you just get in their face and it’s going to crumble like a 1000 year old piece of paper.
Cons: Awful puck management
Just about every metric and eye test was failed in this category.
They had five giveaways, however that is measured. After two periods of play, they had 10 defensive zone turnovers. You should not have that many for a game, let alone just 40 minutes of hockey.
They gave up five odd-man rushes. That’s not protecting your goaltender when you let the other team just race in with numbers, or by themselves.
Nine times out of 10, those rushes were due to awful control of the puck. If they didn’t just hand it right to Seattle via a poke check, the Kraken read the play and picked off the puck at their own blue line.
We can talk until we’re blue in the face about “bad” line changes, but the guys have to get off the ice at some time. It’s the responsibility of the puck carrier to dump it in or drive past the defenders. This weak little pitchfork push just isn’t cutting it.
At least three goals were the result of that garbage. There could have been even more if not for some saves by Greiss.
Take three goals of Seattle’s total and you have a 2-2 game. It’s not as simple as all that, but it shows how much those continued mistakes really cost them points.
For this game, I will probably be apart from the masses, though I did not check social media to see what most people were saying. However, my feel of this game is that this was more of a one-time occurrence than those old habits completely sinking back in.
We saw a lot of those nasty things that led to the losses piling up, so we’re all gun shy now. It feels like the sky might be falling just because of the snowball effect we have become accustomed to.
That third period gave me hope that this was merely fatigue unable to be overcome. The Blues played quite poorly, but they didn’t hang their heads and sulk like we’ve seen.
They simply didn’t have the legs. When the legs aren’t there, you try to do things that simply can’t be accomplished when you’re standing straight up or when you’re not engaged properly.
Luckily, they get a few days off before the next game. They’re still on the road, but Vegas’ home record isn’t that stellar so far, so it’s still a winnable game.
If the Blues have another crash and burn game on Friday, then we can worry. For now, I think this is a one off and they’ll bounce back.