The St. Louis Blues ended their road trip in a similar way to how it began – in shambles. While the loss was not quite as embarrassing as the one in Ottawa, they still pretty much got taken behind the wood shed by the Ottawa Senators.
The Blues wasted no time in falling behind in this contest. The Senators got on the board before even 90 seconds had elapsed.
St. Louis was transitioning back to the defensive end and, in typical fashion, they let the puck carrier just walk in on the right wing. Instead of ANYONE challenging him, they let him cut toward the middle too.
Calle Rosen backed off and then switched to the Hurricane in the middle of the ice. Nobody backchecked and nobody pressed the puck carrier, meaning Andrei Svechnikov just glided in and scored from the right circle to make it 1-0.
St. Louis battled back a little and were denied by some decent saves, but they also weren’t getting quite the chances the announcers would have you believe. Frederik Andersen made good saves, but he wasn’t standing on his head.
Carolina took a 2-0 lead less than eight minutes into the first. What goes through the minds of these guys is beyond me.
Nobody moved off the faceoff. Faulk tries to get back to cover the guy that is already got his toes planted on the edge of the crease, but after the save, Svechnikov is wide open because Rosen just let him walk by and Rosen was nowhere to be seen.
All the forwards are standing completely straight legged. Nobody is active and Faulk may or may not have screened Binnington from view of the rebound. It’s all just a mess.
The Blues had a late-period power play. It was as useless as they all have been lately. They could barely hold the zone.
St. Louis gave fans a little hope early in the second period. Former Hurricane, Justin Faulk scored when Josh Leivo stole the puck off a weak stick from Carolina, fed to Faulk on the left circle and he slammed it in to make it 2-1.
It should have ended 2-1 after two, but the Blues just haven’t a clue about coverage. Torey Krug was left to cover two men in front of the net and still wasn’t doing a good job of it.
Robert Thomas sort of floated in to help, but not really. A pass from the corner boards made it all the way to the back door and a 3-1 lead. Frankly, it’s shameful that nobody on the Blues could even come close to disrupting that pass.
St. Louis had an early third period power play, but that was even more ineffective than the one they had in the first period. They couldn’t even get in the zone, much less keep the zone.
They did generate one good chance, and four shots, towards the end, but that just rubbed salt in the wound of what would happen. Colton Parayko handed the puck right to Carolina and Seth Jarvis outwaited Jordan Binnington and then tucked it between the goalie and the post for a 4-1 score.
It should have been 5-1. Somehow the Hurricanes fanned on a breakaway with Binnington pulled, but the Blues never threatened with the sixth attacker and 4-1 was the final.
The Blues defensemen have come under fire this season and they’ve given people plenty of reason to harp on them. However, it’s not just on the guys at the back end.
The forwards in this game, and all season, have acted like they could not care less. It’s hard for two defenders to track three and four attackers when their teammates are just standing around watching the puck.
It got to the point where even John Kelly and Darren Pang were calling out the team for a failure to get back. They continually pointed out how the team system has called for the defenders to activate on offense for several seasons, but it is the responsibility of the forwards to take over that defensive spot.
It is also the responsibility of a forward to hustle back and help break up breakout attempts by the opponent. Instead, we just see guys kind of go through the motions.
It doesn’t have to do with backchecking, but that goal highlighted earlier in the article was an example of the effort we’ve seen. Thomas acts like he’s doing something by standing up next to the guy who beat him on the faceoff, but all three forwards are literally doing nothing. They’re standing there watching two Carolina players make Faulk and Binnington look silly because they were left on an island.
I saw the usual nonsense on social media whining about him swimming around. I’m tired of it.
You people have no clue about the position of goaltender whatsoever. I’ve seen more nuanced opinions about starting quarterbacks and they’re usually always the guy people are more than willing to replace as soon as they don’t provide a first down.
Binnington faced 36 shots. That’s not a horrible numbers, but more than half of those were legitimate scoring opportunities.
To put that in perspective, the Blues also had 36 shots, but to start the third period they had nine scoring chances. At most, they got to 11 or 12 total scoring chances.
That means most of their shots were not that difficult for Andersen to handle. Meanwhile, Binnington was required to practically stand on his head to only surrender four goals.
The team in front of him is clueless right now. They need to be playing for their jobs, but Binnington is the only one earning his money right now.
Cons: Power play
The TV crew was trying to sell us some swamp land in Florida by saying the Blues power play had actually been pretty good until the last couple games. Perhaps that is true statistically, but it was the sports equivalent of a blind squirrel finding some nuts.
The truth is this power play has been terrible all season. Percentage points go up and down, but even when they had their star players, it was a mess.
It’s not just a lack of goals. Nobody fears anyone on the Blues.
The pressure against is relentless. If the Blues spend 1 minute in the offensive zone during a two-minute power play, I’d be surprised.
They struggle to gain the zone. They struggle to hold the zone. Fans yell to shoot, but it’s hard when you can’t even hold onto the puck.
That was showcased when it was six-on-five. Not a true power play, no, but Jordan Kyrou fumbled the puck, stumbled at the blue line and gave up a breakaway with the empty net. The fact the guy whiffed on it is immaterial.
0-6 in Ottawa. 0-3 in Carolina. They had four looks at net on their third power play in Carolina and it was still one of the worst two-minute spans of the game.
I’m a very realistic person. I’ve been arguing for days that the Tarasenko/Mikkola and O’Reilly/Acciari trades were necessary.
I’ve been banging the drum for this franchise saying to wait and see what they do in the offseason. I still firmly believe this is just a reset, not a rebuild and moves will be made to prove that once the draft comes.
However, performances like this in Carolina and the previous game in Ottawa make me wonder if that’s viable. It’s one thing to lose, especially with the talent that has been removed by trade and injury. However, it’s different when you can tell that guys are just lost.
Even when the Blues were at their worst in the mid-2000’s, they still looked like they knew where to be or what to do. The talent level was simply not good enough to compete.
This current iteration is just a mess. No coach in the universe could get them to take their heads out of their rear ends.
I knew the losses would be coming, but had hoped guys would be playing to prove they were still good enough to reload. If these kinds of results keep piling up, I may have to eat my words. Maybe we will see three (or more) first round draft picks actually made by the Blues.
Perhaps it should not be shocking. They’ve given up this many goals when the roster was full. Letting up four goals with a roster of bottom six forwards and second pair defenders shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s still hard to watch.