St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 64 Vs San Jose
The St. Louis Blues returned home after a rather disappointing west coast road trip. However, their lone win on the trip was against the San Jose Sharks.
Whether by coincidence or not, that meant the Blues were able to conjure a now rare decent performance. It was still not the best, but it was better than we had seen.
The game started off with some decent energy. For whatever reason, the Blues still struggle to get quality offense though.
San Jose was outshooting them 11-5 early on and the Blues failed to get 10 shots in a period yet again. They did turn on the offense a little as the period went along, but they have to start hitting the net instead of the glass with their shots.
The Sharks struck first about halfway through the period. Robert Thomas had an awful pass from his own goal line to an unsuspecting Alexei Toropchenko who could not field it. St. Louis had all their players sucked down around the net, meaning Erik Karlsson had nobody to challenge him on a shot from the right circle to make it 1-0.
Fortunately, the lead only lasted about two minutes. The Blues got an odd-man rush with Thomas down the right and he fed a cross-ice drop pass to Torey Krug for the tying goal. It was 1-1 after one, even though the jumbotron scoreboard briefly had the Blues up 2-1 for some reason.
Halfway through the game, the Blues grabbed the lead. Colton Parayko sprang a breakaway with a good stick check. Sammy Blais came in all alone and got the goaltender to bite before a forehand shot scooped up and in for a 2-1 lead.
The Blues team defense caved in again for a tying goal. Trying to exit the zone, Calle Rosen ran into an opponent and turned the puck over. St. Louis then had four guys at the hash marks, or lower, leaving an unmarked Tomas Hertl to snap one in from the high slot with no pressure.
While the game remained tied after two periods, the Blues finally dug back in for the third period. Jakub Vrana got his first goal for the Blues with a nice rebound scoop in from the end line. With the goalie down, he shot over the netminder and off the defender at the back post to make it 3-2.
St. Louis scored a rare power play goal to seal the win. Thomas took the feed at the right circle and one-timed it over the blocker shouldet to make it 4-2, which was the final.
Vrana is never going to be a defensive mastermind, but he’s what the Blues need at this point in time. He’s a dynamic skater who is not afraid to shoot the puck.
For the second game in a row, he was one of the team leaders in shots on goal. Only Jordan Kyrou had more shots in this game.
His goal was just solid quality.
First, he had the wherewithal to get to the front of the net and get his nose in the mix. Second, the ability to not only get it over the goalie and past the post but bank it in off the opposite defender was top notch.
Vrana could have, maybe should have, had a goal in his first game against Arizona. It was a just reward for him to score just one game later.
Cons: Team defense
For both goals the Blues gave up, there wasn’t really a single finger to point at an individual player. However, it was a failure by the unit overall.
I fully realize it’s hard to adjust and react when the puck is turned over. As the old saying goes, ice is slippery and you can’t just move and react like you could in basketball.
That’s why the poor pass from Thomas and turnover from Rosen were instrumental in setting up all the other players for failure. With that in mind, it’s just tiring to see so many guys in frame that can do absolutely nothing to stop the goal.
The Karlsson goal was essentially a back door play that was slow to develop. He had way too much time to line up his shot and get it through what minimal traffic there was.
The Hertl shot you could just see coming, even in the arena. He’s the only man in the high slot and he has a lane open as wide as Interstate 270.
The turnover had everyone on their heels, but there was a cluster of Blues all around the hashmarks or closer to the goal. Again, the understanding is there that hockey is not basketball, but why the defenders don’t look for the open man instead of scrambling to react to puck movement is puzzling.
Pro/Con: Power play
I don’t know what to say about the power play that has not been said already. It was improved, but by such a slim margin that you almost have to acknowledge the idea of simply looking for something good as opposed to something good actually being there.
On the plus side, the puck movement is better. St. Louis is passing quicker and making more sound decisions most times.
On the negative side, they continue to force passes that have no chance of succeeding. Everything is so predictable that you could pass the puck at the speed of light and it wouldn’t matter because the four defenders know where the pass is going or when a shot is coming.
On the plus side, the Blues did not allow a short handed goal. They really didn’t even allow a good shorthanded chance either. Their possession was better and they retained the puck in the zone more.
For a negative, they’re continuing to miss what few shots they do take. More often than not, they’re only getting one shot actually on goal with the extra man.
You have to be happy with the goal, especially one that seals it. You have to be happy that pass first Robert Thomas unleashed a one-time shot.
It’s still frustrating to go 1-4, though one of the power plays was not full length.
Apparently, if the Blues could have played San Jose or had me in attendance for the majority of games in 2022-23, we would not be so bad off.
St. Louis has won two in a row against the Sharks and the offense has clicked. They’ve won two in a row with me in attendance – one shocking one against Florida and now another against San Jose.
While this is a joke, people can’t deny that the Blues have taken care of business against the Sharks. This is a double-edged sword.
San Jose is not a good team, so the win is slightly diminished. Win or lose, it also proves that the Blues have fallen to the Sharks level.
St. Louis really can’t be seen as an underperforming team right now. This is what they are – a mediocre team that will compete with teams at the same level, but not as much with the teams that sustained their success from the last few seasons.
Jordan Binnington was good again, with 32 saves on 34 shots. However, unlike previous games, he wasn’t called on to bail the team out as extensively.
He made some quality stops when the team needed them. He wasn’t expected to win the game outright though.
I felt the line combinations used in this game are not sustainable long term. I did not personally see much from either Brandon Saad nor Brayden Schenn even though Saad was second on the team in power play time and Schenn led all forwards in overall ice time.
At this point, it’s all moot. It was fun to see a win and see the team get things done.
The same problems that have existed are there, but slightly diminished. The lack of shots on goal at times is baffling, but at least St. Louis took care of the chances they did have.
Nobody will be jumping up and down for a win against another bottom team. Wins are fun though and we should take them when they come at this juncture.