The St. Louis Blues continued their road trip out west with a game against the Los Angeles Kings. It was another rough start the team had to bounce back from.
The Kings got the first four shots on goal in the first two minutes. St. Louis didn’t have anything.
LA would get the first goal of the game too. A shot from out high went off the body of the man in front of Jordan Binnington. It seemed as though there was contact on the goalie, but not enough for the coaches to challenge, so it stayed 1-0.
The Blues battled back from there. They had a power play attack and rang one off the post, but couldn’t score.
St. Louis got a second power play almost four minutes later. This time around, the attack was a little more disjointed, but still created some opportunities.
The Blues would tie the game before the first 20 minutes were gone. A give and go led to a shot from Pavel Buchnevich from the right circle.
It was saved and it looked as though the Kings controlled the rebound. Robert Thomas just took a whack at the puck and chipped it into a partially empty net for the 1-1 score.
From then on, it was the Jordan Binnington show. He was shuffling back and forth and staying with shooters that were only feet away from the net. He came up with marvelous pad saves throughout the first half of the second period, bailing the Blues out several times when they couldn’t clear their own zone.
Eventually, the push from the Kings resulted in a goal. St. Louis got too cute with it, trying an east/west pass entering the zone, which turned the puck over and led to a partial break for Adrian Kempe.
Binnington was kind of deep in his net and also went for a poke check, which lowered the blocker shoulder. Kempe roofed it over that shoulder to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
After a good first period, St. Louis had nothing offensively. With five minutes left in the middle frame, the Blues were being outshot 16-4 in the period.
The third period was a big mixed bag. The Blues hung with LA in terms of hitting the net, but it was extremely riskythe entire time.
The Blues gave up two breakout rushes when they were on the power play. It was a truly bad power play attack that we’ve come to expect from this team.
You felt the game slipping away when the Blues took a tripping penalty. The Kings were creating all over the place, but either missed the net or got stopped by Binnington.
In the waning seconds of the man advantage, the Blues struck on the breakaway. St. Louis won a board battle at the blue line and sprung Kasperi Kapanen who sauced one over the glove hand to make it 2-2.
Binnington robbed the Kings with a double pad stack with just under five minutes left. The Blues put LA back onto the power play with another tripping call.
St. Louis really shafted Binnington on that play. They could not get the puck out of the zone and eventually the Kings cashed in on the doorstep. It was a great goal, but normal teams don’t even let that happen because they know how to actually get ahold of the puck and get it out of the zone.
The wheels fell off from there. St. Louis pulled the goaltender and got their normal result.
This team is completely clueless about how to apply any pressure with a sixth attacker. They crapped the bed early, allowed a chip out over the man at the blue line, which led to a breakaway goal for Kevin Fiala.
Let that sink in for a moment. The empty net goal was scored by a defender.
Cons: Last five minutes
The Blues had this game tied up. They were playing a decent game and all they had to do was keep up the pace and see things out.
Instead, they reverted to type. They didn’t want to battle and we saw the end result.
I do my very best to give this team the credit they deserve. They’re not as bad as they’ve shown this season and to say a professional doesn’t care is just wrong and lazy thinking for fans.
That said, I just don’t understand what happens to this team. LA is a good team, so you give them credit, but even if the Blues brought up their entire AHL team, it would not be an excuse.
The failure to even come close to clearing the puck on the Kings final power play is ridiculous. I literally do not understand how you cannot find any opportunity to gain control of the puck and scoop it out.
Then, when you have your goaltender pulled, this team is so bloody clueless, it makes my stomach turn. Not only do they not threaten, but they don’t even have possession. They just hand it right to someone on the opposing team, which automatically leads to an empty net goal.
It hasn’t mattered who was on this team, superstar or guys fighting for bottom six minutes. The results have been the same and it’s just making my blood boil.
Pros: Tying the game
Both goals scored by the Blues were tying goals. Each one was gained because of hard work, not just pure skill.
Ideally, it would show the players on this team that you have to go full bore more often. Regardless, it was nice to see.
The first one was Robert Thomas just going to the net and getting involved. If he had made it easy, the Kings would have retained possession and just cleared the puck from the front.
Instead, Thomas was right there on the far post and smacked the puck away from the defender. It wasn’t some fancy dangle or amazing pass. It was just being in the right place and stronger on the puck.
The same was true on Kapanen’s goal. The goal itself was a total skill move, getting the goaltender to make the first move and then having the skill to get the puck over his glove.
However, it was that puck battle won at the blue line that set it all up. It should come as no surprise that it was Brandon Saad to win that since he had being doing that all night.
Cons: Special teams
Most nights, you shouldn’t have a major complaint about your special teams when you get a shorthanded goal. That is especially true when that shorty tied the game.
However, it was wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity. St. Louis’ inability to get anything done doomed them.
The Blues went 0-3 on the power play. Their man advantage got worse each time out too.
The first one was quality. The second one was ok, but you saw the cracks forming. On the third, they reverted to giving up shorthanded breakouts and relying on their goaltender to make the bigger save even though they had the extra man.
Add to all that the fact you allow a power play goal as the game winner and special teams decided this game.
As negative as I am about the end of the game, the truth is Darren Pang was right. The final score doesn’t tell the full story.
This wasn’t really a two goal difference type of game. The Blues were in it until the end. Unfortunately, their inability to finish games strong kept them from even getting a point.
Of course, the fans that want the team to tank will be happy. It doesn’t matter that they have little to no chance at the top draft pick. Those fans just want more losses because they think this is the NBA where the draftee will have an immediate impact, which they won’t.
Sticking to the game, it’s just more of the same. The Blues had a good first period, a bad second period with a push in the last couple minutes and then a decent third with an awful final five minutes.
You could pretty much copy and paste that description for about 50% of the games this season.
When you return to a rational mind, we shouldn’t expect the Blues to beat the Kings. While we’ve accepted the need to have made the trades, too many are not accepting the truth.
St. Louis is currently a bad team. They are right there among the teams like San Jose and Vancouver.
The entirety of the team is not very good even if some of the pieces are. The Kings are a playoff team and on the rise. This is the result they would expect and might be angry it took so much effort to knock off St. Louis.
It’s just confusing why things can go alright for long stretches for St. Louis and then they just let the opponent come at them.