The St. Louis Blues entered their final game prior to the All-Star break facing the Winnipeg Jets, a team fighting for control of the division. On top of it being an important game against a division opponent, the Blues had to know it might be their last game together as a group.
It may be unlikely the team makes a trade over the break, but general managers will definitely be talking. Would the Blues keep any hope alive or give Doug Armstrong more reason to make a deal?
To start, the Blues came out well. They had another good shift to open the contest, though they failed to hit the net with their shots.
Conversely, St. Louis continued to give up odd-man rushes. They had two two-on-ones in the first five minutes.
Both teams had a power play opportunity, though the Jets got a four-minute power play from a high stick. Neither team managed to connect on their man advantage.
The teams were pretty even in the shot total, but the Blues were giving up the much better looks. Jordan Binnington had to make several huge saves, including a right-pad stop and a gigantic glove save on an odd-man rush.
The second period was not much to speak of for St. Louis. They relied on Binnington again and did not have their first shot on goal until more than seven minutes had been played.
St. Louis had a couple rushes up ice during that time, but failed to challenge the goalie with a shot. Their penalty kill continued to get it done early on though.
The Blues actually connected on the power play, though it was an odd play. During a line change, the Blues actually came in on a break and Jake Neighbours barely stayed onside and scored with the backhand to make it 1-0.
The Blues managed to stay ahead after 40 minutes despite taking several penalties. They opened the third period quite well.
Nikita Alexandrov scored to make it 2-0 within the first two minutes. They won a board battle on the near side, found Alexandrov open in the middle of the rink and he buried it on the blocker side.
The shutout wouldn’t last, however. The Blues got a little overzealous in attacking the puck at the end line. Winnipeg pushed it out of their zone and Josh Morrissey buried it to make it 2-1 just 40 seconds after the Blues goal.
The Blues turned the puck over in their own zone when Justin Faulk failed to flip it out. Mark Scheifele was all alone in the slot to make it 2-2.
Things turned full circle just 21 seconds later. The Jets came down the left, flung it into the middle and the puck went in off Brayden Schenn to make it 3-2.
St. Louis had some decent pushes towards the end, but they just couldn’t get it done. One of the Blues got twisted around near the far wall, as they always seem to do, Winnipeg easily got the puck out and slotted it into an empty net to make it 4-2 for the win.
Despite yet another loss, the Blues were in this game because of Jordan Binnington. The saves he repeatedly made in the first and second periods were somewhat ridiculous.
Please, do yourself a favor. If you didn’t watch the game and only rely on your bias or the box score to judge things, don’t.
If there was only one player that was not at fault for this loss, it would be Binnington. He finished the game with 34 saves, a good 10-15 of which were grade-A chances.
If not for Binnington, this game would have been over in the first period. Instead, he gave the Blues a chance to win.
Cons: Third period
I just don’t know what is wrong with this team this season. I don’t even think this is one of those “not playing a full 60” types of games.
Even so, it all came down to a failure to keep the puck out of their own net because of mistakes. They were bailed out by their goaltender for 40 minutes, but once Winnipeg cracked that nut, it was just game over.
For the 23rd time this season, the Blues allowed three goals in a single period. Just let that soak in. This was the 51st game of the season and they’ve allowed 3-plus goals 23 times.
That doesn’t mean 23 games since there’s been multiple games they’ve had 3 or more given up in a period in a game, but just that overall stat is mind boggling. Even at their best, this team was never a defensive powerhouse, but to have fallen so far the other direction is astounding.
The third goal was just pure luck for the Jets. It doesn’t matter though since that’s happened all season long.
The Blues played reasonably well for much of the game and then a failed clearance by Faulk does them in. Couple that with an ill-timed pinch from Torey Krug and it’s just another nail in the coffin that has been a disastrous defensive corps this year.
For myself, I’ve become so numb to this that it doesn’t even phase me at this point. Clearly, like any fan, I’m disappointed with a loss, but it’s just par for the course.
Did the Blues really deserve to win? I don’t know if we can even answer that.
They didn’t really outplay the Jets, despite getting out to a 2-0 lead. However, that kind of stuff happens all the time. They capitalized on their opportunities and that’s what you want any team to do.
Conversely, they just find ways to lose. Your goaltender stood on his head for you and you couldn’t get it done.
None of the top guys on this team did anything. I’m not going to say they had bad games, because that’s a lazy storyline.
You need them to step up though. The top power play unit couldn’t do anything and then a rookie scores on a fingernail-close non-offside breakaway. After that, a third-liner who seemed to have been benched a couple shifts after his early high sticking penalty puts you up by two.
Where’s Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko? Tarasenko was a minus-1, Kyrou minus-2 and Schenn minus-3.
Not only are your stars not scoring, but they were on the ice for basically all the goals.
I’m not sure where you’re at, but I’ve held out hope long enough and stayed positive long enough. The truth is this team isn’t making the playoffs and we might have seen some of these guys in a Blues uniform for the last time this season.
I feel Armstrong will wait until closer to the deadline, but there will be talk over the All-Star break. If someone offers something good enough, this team could look different come February 11.