The St. Louis Blues returned home after a disastrous road trip. The hope was to see a better effort against a fellow struggling team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Whether that was the case or not, is up to the individual. It wasn’t much better, if at all.
The Blues only had two shots on goal roughly halfway through the opening period. They had allowed five in the same time span, including one from the left circle where the man was one-on-one with the goaltender and shot it into the glove of Jordan Binnington.
St. Louis had a mid-period power play and that unit has not improved. The first unit was absolutely terrible, not even gaining a clean zone entry. The second unit at least got a shot on goal, but there was a lot of passing with nothing to show.
Vancouver struck first with 5:33 left in the period. While on a delayed penalty call, the Blues didn’t get the puck out when it hit the linesman. Vancouver worked it around and connected on a backdoor play.
The Blues challenged it for goalie interference and actually won. I’m not sure what they based it on since the contact was minimal and didn’t really impact the play, but it helped St. Louis.
Vancouver ended up having their originally scheduled power play and, low and behold, the Blues actually scored a shorthanded goal. Alexei Toropchenko slid it five hole on the breakaway to make it 1-0.
The second period was a bit odd. Vancouver had the better of the chances to start the period, but the Blues kept them off the board.
6:45 into the frame, Tyler Tucker scored his first NHL goal with a seeing-eye shot from the left, cutting back across the grain and just under the glove. Vancouver challenged for a high stick earlier in the play and it looked like it was touched with one, but St. Louis actually got another call.
Vancouver got a breakaway when their delay of game penalty ended and the Blues did not hold the zone. Binnington made a huge toe save to keep the score 2-0.
The third period got a little feisty between both teams. The physicality picked up and so did the extra curricular contact.
Vancouver pushed Tucker into Binnington and scored after the net was knocked loose. Immediately after that play, Tucker started shoving the Canuck player and then Nathan Walker got in a fight.
The teams traded power plays before the midway point of the period. Despite a decent look for each team, neither could score with the man advantage. Vancouver repaid the Blues for the earlier favor. A poor pass by Brandon Saad on the power play was picked off and the Canucks scored on a short-handed two-on-one.
The Blues held onto the one-goal until late in the period. The Canucks pulled the goaltender with 88 seconds left.
Brayden Schenn had an opportunity on the open net with just over a minute left, but the Vancouver defender made a save from his knees. Faulk almost hit the net from the defensive zone, but it hit the side of the net and missed.
That all cost the Blues dearly. As is their way, the defense just caved to net-front pressure and Binnington could not stop the constant banging at the puck as the Canucks tied it 2-2, forcing overtime.
The Blues were lively in overtime. Colton Parayko had a good chance on a breakout rush, but the puck rolled on him and he didn’t get the shot on goal.
Unfortunately, the overtime ended like regulation. St. Louis came close to getting the goal they needed, but not close enough as they were stoned a couple times.
Vancouver went the other way and snapped it in from the left circle. The Blues lost 3-2 with 18 seconds left on three unanswered goals.
Cons: Overtime goal
Binnington had a great game. He came up with save after save and kept the Blues in the lead for much longer than they deserved.
That’s what makes this loss so disappointing. It was a save that Binnington should have and needed to make.
Elias Petterson is a fantastic player and has a good shot. However, the shot came from the dot at the left faceoff circle.
Despite what Bernie Federko said, it was not deflected. It was a clean shot that beat Binnington to the glove side, meaning it cut across the grain.
It was just an odd play. The motion of the glove didn’t seem to make sense meaning Binnington might have been fooled on the shot or thought it was going somewhere else.
Whatever the case, it needed to be saved and this is coming from someone who almost always defends the goaltender.
Not to make a negative out of a positive, but the problem the Blues have had of late is that their third and fourth liners are their best players. That was the case again in this game.
Regardless, we should not take away from the effort of Toropchenko. He was fantastic in this contest.
The goal was top notch. Not only was it a cool, calm finish, but the fact he broke out so quickly while shorthanded was impressive.
It should be noted that the play was made by Pavel Buchnevich, i.e. the interception and pass. Nevertheless, it was up to Torpo to finish it off and he did.
He was a special teams beast too. Buchnevich and Toropchenko got stuck out for the entire shift on a penalty kill and each one kept making play after play even though they were exhausted.
He made at least two blocks on that shift alone and ended the game with four.
Cons: Game-tying goal
I don’t have stats to back this up, but this team has to be the worst in franchise history with the opponent’s goaltender pulled. I don’t even mean just allowing the goal to tie the game, but you just sense the game is going the other way.
For the first time in a long time, the Blues looked like they could (probably should) have scored on the empty net. Unfortunately, their missed opportunities cost them.
Some will blame Faulk for icing the puck. It did play a part in the end of the game, but he came so close that I don’t mind him trying to go for it.
However, regardless, they lose the faceoff and as soon as the Blues cannot clear, you just feel it coming. When the puck got down low without a cover or clearance, you knew the tying goal was coming. It has happened so often that you just know the Blues don’t know where to be positionally to help their goaltender.
At this point, another loss is immaterial. It might actually be just as well.
I’m not nearly as big on the draft as some, but if you do have some outside chance at the top draft pick, might as well try it out.
What’s disappointing is to play relatively well and still get beat by a team that isn’t very good either. Federko talked about the Canucks deserving the win since they played better for most of the game, but I disagree.
They had more shots on goal, but I never got the feeling they were completely outplaying the Blues. Then again, perhaps I’ve become so numb to the chances against that you just become accustomed to it.
I guess even if you concede being outplayed, the energy was there. I won’t say the Blues got outworked because they were finally trying.
Instead of not having heart or playing their hardest, you saw the effort. This was probably the first loss that just boiled down to not having a deep enough roster as opposed to the previous losses that were just an entire lineup refusing to play.
This is all part of the current process, sadly. The trades had to be made, but this is the result when the roster got gutted and the players still here are unsure on the direction of the team.
Personally, what makes these losses tougher is the fact that the players that are leftover are not giving much of an indication that the team can be restocked. They’re not quite in full rebuild mode, but these results push it more to a 50/50 offseason where Doug Armstrong could easily go in any direction and you could not argue with it.