St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 39 At New Jersey

St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /
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The St. Louis Blues continued to wade into 2023 with fans cautiously hoping it would be better than how 2022 had gone. They were facing a New Jersey Devils squad that had opened the season red hot, but fallen off the pace a little since.

A win against Toronto gave St. Louis some confidence, but the Devils beat up on Detroit the night prior to this game. Technically, the Blues should have been the fresher team.

St. Louis did get on the board first. A little over halfway through the period, Pavel Buchnevich fed a fantastic pass from the right wall to the deep slot where Jordan Kyrou just guided it into the net with the backhand for the 1-0 lead.

That was basically all the offense the Blues got. They had five shots in 20 minutes.

Conversely, the only reason the Blues held the lead after 20 minutes was Jordan Binnington. The Devils had 13 shots in the period and many of them were top notch chances, forcing several quality saves.

The continued offensive push by New Jersey couldn’t be kept out forever. After making some more early saves, Binnington let up a rebound off the left pad and Jack Hughes cashed in on the rebound to tie it.

The Blues were made to pay for another mistake about five minutes later. Right near the crease, Jake Neighbours tried to go through the legs of the forechecker and hit the skate. Off the turnover, Hughes got his second of the game and made it 2-1 Devils.

St. Louis’ offense continued to be anemic. Despite a handful of early looks, they only had eight total shots until around 15 minutes into the frame.

Add to that nobody in white reacting at all when their goaltender got ran into and it just wasn’t a very good period. Despite the poor play overall, the Blues tied it with 3:33 left in the frame. Ivan Barbashev got the defender to bite on a move and then roofed one from just outside the hashmarks.

St. Louis continued to make the most out of very little. Brandon Saad gave the Blues a 3-2 lead less than two and a half minutes into the third.

The Blues got some breathing room halfway through the period. After a solid power play, Brayden Schenn slid it from one post to the far side for Robert Thomas who put it in from only around two feet on the right side of the goal line.

The two-goal lead barely lasted two minutes. The Blues were down five-on-three after a silly tripping call against Tyler Pitlick and a ridiculous slash on Justin Faulk that should not have been called.

The Blues did a good job killing off most of that attack, but the Devils scored with the two-man advantage to make it 4-3. They kept coming into the late stages of the game.

St. Louis actually did a decent job of keeping bodies on opponents, but the shots rained down. Binnington had to make several robberies in the final minutes to preserve the lead.

The Blues finally busted one out of the zone and Thomas wisely shot into the empty net instead of passing. St. Louis took it 5-3.

Pros: Binnington

The Blues have given up more shots, but this might have been the highest quality of shots combined with a high number that we’ve seen in quite some time. Binnington was able to stop almost all of them.

Binnington ended the game with 36 saves on 39 shots. The three that got past him were basically nothing he had a chance on.

The stops he made in the first period alone might have got him the first star of the game. He stopped one-timers, breakaways and cross-ice plays.

Binner stopped Hughes a couple times, which is impressive against one of the better up and coming scorers in the league.

The save against Tomas Tatar was top notch as well. He more than earned his 105th career win.

Cons: Slashing call

There are plenty of fans out there that argued against Faulk on this one. The logic is that you know refs call that kind of stuff, so don’t make contact with the guy’s stick at all.

In many instances I would agree with that. Not on this one.

I could have knocked his stick out of his hand with a feather. You’re allowed to make some kind of stick on stick contact in an effort to gain positioning or go for a puck.

Faulk was trying to disrupt part of the backcheck and came down on the opponent’s stick. I saw that exact same play occur in corner battles about five times after that play.

None of those were called because nobody else dropped their stick. I get we want to get rid of slashes to a point, but you can’t reward weak handling either.

Pros: Saad, Buch and Kyrou

Regardless of your personal feelings towards the players the Blues lost to injury lately, they’re still offensive players and the Blues need scoring. If you’re not going to have that, you need others to step up.

Buchnevich, Saad and Kyrou have definitely done that. They’ve been red hot.

Buchnevich has shown his playmaking skills with assists in three straight games. He’s got nine points in his last six games.

Saad scored against Chicago, had two against Toronto and added another one against New Jersey on this night. That’s four goals in the last four games.

Kyrou just continues to grow. The tip for the opening goal was set up by an all-world pass, but Kyrou still needed to make the finish.

He’s got six goals in his last six games and nine goals in his last eight games.

Cons: Too much Devils offsense

New Jersey is a very much improved team. They’re young, fast and hungry.

That doesn’t give the Blues an excuse to rely on their goalie so much. St. Louis just could not keep the Devils away from the net enough.

New Jersey had 39 shots. They had 77 attempts.

St. Louis did block 21 shots, but they were scrambling far too much. The clean looks and the open players on the back side were worrying.

It’s great to have your goalie stand on his head, but it’s hard to rely on that most nights.

Pros: Thomas

The way the season started, I was quite down on Thomas. He looked nothing like a top line center should.

Like Kyrou, he has turned things around pretty quickly. He continues to put points on the board, which the Blues really need with their injury problems.

Thomas finished this game with two goals and three points. He also had the game-winning goal.

Similar to his current linemates, he’s putting up points consistently of late. His three points here gave him seven points in six games.

Overview

This was the kind of win the Blues needed. They were solid, but not great and made several mistakes.

The knock on this performance is that on many nights, the Blues are going to lose this game. If you don’t get the performance from Binnington that we saw, St. Louis does not win.

That’s disappointing because, offensively, the Blues did pretty well. They still need to get more pucks to the net, but they made the most out of the chances they had.

They did not allow the Devils goaltender to get comfortable and start making his own big saves. St. Louis cashed in when they really needed to.

Despite the amount of shots given up, and overall chances, the Blues still continue to take positive strides. They’re defending better as a group of five and putting a body on players much better.

That doesn’t mean they’re doing it all the time, but even the best in the league have back door plays against them.

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It was a quality win overall. You tip your cap to Binnington, applaud the timely goals and now move on to Montreal.