St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 59 Vs Pittsburgh

St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues continued their trek through the tumultuous end of the 2022-23 season. It didn’t get any easier against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

At this point, the end of the year has become a battle of wills for all involved. The players are trying to muster the mental fortitude to press on after they’ve been told their fate is to be a bottom team.

The coaches and general manager are trying to impress upon these players that, even if you’re under a long-term contract, you need to be playing for your jobs. The fans are just trying to keep the faith and stay interested in a team that has given them virtually nothing to cheer about for weeks.

It was a rough first period in multiple ways. On the positive side, the Blues were more engaged and getting physical.

The game got pretty chippy in places and the Blues were standing up for teammates and going after the Penguins, within the rules. However, the same old mistakes were happening too.

The defensive structure, forwards and defense, is just not there. They allowed 21 shots in the first period alone.

It used to be there were games you might not allow 21 shots. Somehow, Jordan Binnington kept them all out. It was the most shots the Penguins had all season in a period they did not score.

Offensively, it’s just a joke. The Blues were so busy defending, they had little time in the offensive zone and when they were, you could tell they just don’t have any mojo, even on the lines that still have the talent level. Seven shots on goal isn’t going to cut it when your goalie is getting shelled.

Despite the lack of offense, the Blues struck first, proving why you just get pucks to the net. Robert Thomas flung one to the net with no hope of scoring, but Pavel Buchnevich tipped it downward, putting it through the legs of a goalie that thought he needed to stand up to make the save.

It was a nice surprise, given the Blues had just failed to convert on a four-minute power play. The team then continued to show why we can’t have good things.

The Pens connected on passes through the neutral zone with speed. It led to a partial odd-man rush and Bryan Rust fed the puck back to Evgeni Malkin for an easy tap in on the back door.

The game kept pressing on, with no more goals in the second and none late into the third. Then the offense came out.

Pittsburgh came coast to coast with little pressure through the neutral zone. The defense kept backing off and they scored with under six minutes left. It was a shot Binnington needed to save, but not a truly bad goal.

The Blues showed some resiliency with a late goal. Scoring on a mad scramble with around 2:30 left in the period, Just Faulk would jam it home under a sea of legs and arms.

Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t get it done in overtime. The Penguins had their initial shot blocked, which should be good. Instead, it came right back to them, put the defense out of position and Malkin fed Rust for the backdoor play and a 3-2 win.

Pros: Game-tying goal

One of the main things that will go unnoticed about the goal that tied the game 2-2 was the play of Sammy Blais. Without his well timed movement, the goal might not have counted.

To initiate the play, Blais was in the thick of it all and ended up down on the crease, potentially interfering with the goaltender. With no whistle coming, Blais had the wherewithal to roll the other direction and remove himself from the equation.

It’s only a movement of about a foot, but the timing is the key. The play lasted long enough for that decision to matter, because it stopped there being a possibility of goaltender interference.

Personally, I don’t know if there was enough contact in the first place and Blais may have been knocked down anyway. Even so, just that little roll away from the goalie took away any excuse and allowed Faulk to come in and jam away at it for the goal.

Cons: Penguins first goal

In the heat of the contest, I was super-pissed at Colton Parayko. As the Penguins came through the neutral zone, he stepped up to a man on the wall outside of the zone.

This created the odd-man rush scenario where Marco Scandella was the only defender in the zone and Brayden Schenn was trying to get back to help. Neither could do anything about it because you have two top play makers finishing that goal.

Upon further review, and time to cool down, I’m not sure what he could do differently, other than maybe be more aggressive. Technically, he was where he was supposed to be.

We judge things harshly based on the name. But, on that play, Parayko is supposed to step up and try to challenge the puck along the wall. He was just late, which allowed the play to continue.

It’s been his season in a microcosm. Even when he makes the right play, he’s not getting the job done.

He steps up correctly, but not fast enough or not heavy enough to disrupt things and that leaves the other players scrambling for the rest of the rush. The funny thing is those sorts of “misses” happen dozens of times in every game, but his seem to get noticed because they tend to end in embarrassing goals against.

Pros: Better effort

For fans that like to complain and just want to yell at the heavens, they won’t see any positive from this game. While this team has soured me, for sure, I still TRY to be a glass half full kind of person.

The bottom line is that the effort was there. They built upon the few positives from the Vancouver game and started playing something resembling Blues hockey.

We’ve simply reached the point now where playing hard and, perhaps, playing your best isn’t good enough. Too much has been removed from this team and guys that are in top roles probably can’t handle being the only guy, instead of just a good play.

Still, they were hustling. Even on that easy tap in for Malkin, Schenn was trying to get back and Scandella did his best to defend the pass.

The physicality was there. The Blues got pushed around here and there, but overall, they outhit the Penguins 39-26.

They blocked a decent amount of shots. That was key since they did allow so many to get through.

Nobody is saying this was the way the team turns things around. We should still expect losses, but if you’re going to lose, this is what fans want. Show that you’re still trying.

Pro/Con: Binnington

My worry for Binnington now is that he becomes a shell of himself. This is a couple years in a row where he passes the eye test, but the team has let him down in so many different areas that his stats end up suffering.

We’ve seen it on a couple different plays in the last couple games. The glove hand just isn’t quite where it needs to be and I wonder if it’s because he’s just getting bombed out there with shots.

The guy has kept the Blues in the last handful of games for as long as he could. Regardless of how many went in, there could have been twice as many scored against if not for Binnington.

Against the Penguins, he made 45 saves. I don’t care who you’re playing, but that’s a lot of work. The fact he allowed three goals is irrelevant. He shouldn’t have to make that many saves.

Conversely, my worry is that he’s becoming overworked. The goal that made it 2-1 is simply one he needs to save.

It’s a good shot. Even so, it has a 50/50 chance of going in, at best. It’s not one of those goals you stare at, open mouthed, but it’s just one you expect him to get. You especially figure it’s a save because he saw it all the way with not traffic and no need to sprawl out. We saw the result though.


It was a disappointing loss because losing is disappointing. We continue to see the same mistakes in this team’s defensive structure, to the point that I’m not sure how they fix it.

Despite what people want to believe, this isn’t about guys being overpaid or having too much term on their contracts. Those things hamper the team’s ability to make personnel changes, but for the players themselves, they have to figure out how to play better.

Sure, some are getting more money than they’re worth, but that doesn’t change the fact they can and have to be better. This idea they don’t care is silly because they’re costing themselves in the long run.

Most of those guys would probably still like one more contract once their current deal is up. If they continued to play the current pace, they may not have a job even when the current contract is still valid.

I may be proven wrong, but I still feel like this entire year is just a case of the yips. I think it’s like a golfer that is forced to think about what’s going wrong so often that it becomes impossible to fix it until you just take a break from the game.

We saw enough improvement in the effort for the comments from Craig Berube to be worth it. I just hope that Doug Armstrong reiterated to that room the coach will be going nowhere. The Blues have been through this cycle too much lately where firing a coach is supposed to be the fix.

Next. End of 2022-23 will decide the next few years for the Blues. dark

It works for a little while and then the players revert to this stuff, regardless of whether the faces in the room have changed. It’s time the coach stays and the players just suck it up and be better.

We saw a glimpse of it. We also saw that it’s going to be a very long final 20-plus games.