The St. Louis Blues continued to adjust to their depleted roster. Playing the Seattle Kraken wouldn’t have been easy with all the guys traded away still here, so nobody knew what to expect with the team as they were.
Overall, it started well. The Blues took the positives from the Pittsburgh game and continued those into this contest.
They were actually getting the better of the offense. At one point, the Blues were outshooting the Kraken 8-1.
However, the way the season has gone continued in this game. Seattle scored on their second shot of the game.
Nikita Alexandrov slipped in the offensive zone and the puck got turned over, leading to a two-on-one. Seattle didn’t even bother with the pass and lasered a wrist shot from the left into the top right corner for a 1-0 lead.
The second period got really interesting. The Blues got an early power play, but only mustered one shot.
Seattle got a power play off a bogus tripping call and the Blues proceeded to score a shorthanded goal. Robert Thomas got a breakout with the defenders on their heels and snuck it through the five hole because Martin Jones didn’t have his stick down.
The Kraken would regain the lead less than two minutes later. Seattle got the goal just seconds after the power play ended, but Jordan Binnington returned the favor by letting one through his legs because of a stick that wasn’t there.
Minutes after that, the Blues took advantage of a bad line change by Seattle. Vince Dunn tried to go to the bench, which left Brandon Saad open on the stretch pass. Dunn almost got back, but Saad just snapped one past the glove hand – it was a shot that should have been saved – but it tied the game 2-2.
With less than seven minutes to go in the period, Seattle just got lucky. They won the faceoff and took a shot from the point.
Binnington tracked the puck to his right, but it deflected the other direction. Seattle had a guy right there to sweep it into an empty net and grab a 3-2 lead.
The third period was wide open. It was odd because the shot totals didn’t indicate it, with a total of eight halfway through, but there were chances both ways, although Seattle had most of the looks.
The Blues succumbed to the pressure with 10:14 left. The puck was cycled around after being flung around close to the net. The eventual shot from the point was screened and Binnington was out of position in an effort to see the shot, which made the game 4-2.
St. Louis continued to battle. With a little over five minutes remaining, they got the puck deep, pushed it back out in front and Pavel Buchnevich found the back of the net to make it 4-3.
It wasn’t enough though. Though they actually had some rare possession, they failed to really even challenge the goaltender with the six-on-five attack and eventually gave up the empty net goal for a 5-3 loss.
Cons: Power play
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The St. Louis Blues power play failed to score, or really even come that close.
They improved their puck control and passing, but we’re essentially talking an improvement from zero to one or two, not seven, eight, nine, etc.
They just don’t do anything with it. The shots they take are either blocked, miss the net or are right at the goaltender.
Maybe I’m misremembering things, but I don’t remember the Blues power play being this impotent when they were actually rebuilding back in the mid-2000’s. It’s so ineffective that you basically know they won’t score, so it’s a waste of two minutes.
St. Louis had four power plays and barely even troubled Seattle on it. That’s eight minutes of game time wasted when the Blues actually would have been better off five-on-five.
They also gave up a shorthanded chance, so the fact the Blues scored a shorty was almost negated in terms of overall special teams play.
While it would have been fantastic for Kasperi Kapinen to get a goal in his first game with the Blues, this was a pretty good turn for the former Penguins forward. He brought some energy and a little burst in his time on the ice.
He had a partial breakaway early in the game and, perhaps, likely should have scored on it. Nevertheless, he was in good position and was thinking about the transition early on in the play.
He was a shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy, which is what the Blues need right now. His four shots on goal led the Blues and he was more than willing to rip the puck during the six-on-five.
What I really liked about his game was his willingness to do the small things. He took a puck to the forearm and stayed in the game after blocking a shot, which endeared him to his teammates.
Nobody knows if that’s sustainable or how he’ll play consistently for the Blues. For his first game, he played the Blues style.
Let me be up front and open about this – I do not blame Jordan Binnington for this loss. He had a decent night and made some good saves.
He was under pressure quite often and his stats falter because the Kraken missed the net plenty of times.
That said, three of the four goals against were savable. I’m not going to go as far as to say they should have been saved, but they were not unstoppable shots.
The first goal of the game is from the left wing and cuts back across to the glove side. It was a rocket of a shot, but you’d just like to see him make that stop. As quick as it came off the stick, maybe he never truly saw it, but the reaction just felt slow.
The second goal was just poor stick position. Binnington was partially screened, but the stick still needs to be down more. Too many NHL goalies these days have the paddle just flopping around and it felt like that’s what happened on that play.
The fourth goal wasn’t his fault, but it was – sort of. He was screened, so who knows when he actually saw the shot taken. That said, I just don’t understand his positioning.
He pushed himself into the center of the net and reached back with the glove. Clearly at some point in the play, he knew where the puck was going. Why move your body into a position that makes it less likely to make the save in the first place?
These are the kinds of results we should expect from here on out. The Blues played a decent game, but decent isn’t good enough.
With the guys they’ve lost and what remains on this roster, there will be nights when perfection might not even cut it. With that in mind, you know that decent just won’t cut it.
St. Louis was pretty good defensively. They limited the rush plays and the backdoor opportunities. Those still existed, like they will in every game, but it was not the wide open stuff that you know the opponent will connect on.
Offensively, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. They opened the game hard with eight early shots and hung with or led the Kraken in that category for most of the game.
The difference is converting as opposed to creating. Seattle did the first and the Blues did the second.
For me, what is frustrating is to lose to Martin Jones. The guy has talent enough to be a starting goalie in the NHL. However, he’s also a joke.
The Blues should know to shoot everything to the high glove and you’ll score, which Saad did. The goal he let up through the legs was also nothing an NHL goalie should let up.
He’s one of those guys that can stand on his head, but he normally doesn’t against the Blues. So, to lose to him when he was mediocre at best is rough.
We’re seeing flashes and glimpses of the team we knew. If they can sustain this, regardless of wins or losses,that may encourage Doug Armstrong to be quite active in the summer.
Losing sucks, but I’d rather watch this kind of game than the travesty we saw against Ottawa.