St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2022-23 Game 68 At Washington

St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Though the action that transpired against the Minnesota Wild was very entertaining, the final score for the St. Louis Blues was a more than disappointing. It was an embarrassing loss and one the Blues were looking to rebound from as they faced the Washington Capitals out east.

St. Louis didn’t waste much time getting things started on a positive note – no pun intended. The Blues scored less than two minutes into the game.

St. Louis made some great passes through the offensive zone to get the Capitals defense moving. Sammy Blais shed his defender as he set up shop at the back post and his teammates found him for the one timer and a 1-0 lead.

The rest of the period was an odd dichotomy. The Blues let Joel Hofer take quite a few shots, which gave him plenty of work. However, they actually kept the vast majority of the shots from the faceoff dots out and away, meaning from angles and from distance.

Nevertheless, the offense was a bit sparse on the Blues behalf. They had seven total shots in the first 20, six of which were spread over the first 14 minutes, meaning they still only got one shot in the final five-plus minutes.

While the second period has often not been kind to St. Louis, it was their period in this one. They hit the target 11 times and scored three goals in the second as well.

Jordan Kyrou made it 2-0 before five minutes was gone. Jakub Vrana sprang Kyrou on a breakaway and Kyrou made no mistake, putting the puck just past the pad.

Less than five minutes later, the Blues tripled the lead. It was another newcomer getting involved this time as Kasperi Kapanen hammered a slap shot off the bar and in to make it 3-0.

Last, but not least, the Blues got another one with less than six left in the period. Blais got on the board again, this time from the left side of the slot. Nobody knew it went in immediately because the puck went off the top of the net and got caught on the apparatus that holds up the in-net camera. Nevertheless, it was 4-0 after two periods.

Then, things got a little nervy in the third period. As is their way for some reason, the Blues let the pressure come and didn’t bother trying to gain any of their own.

The Blues were outshot 13-4 and really didn’t test Darcy Kuemper with those shots. Meanwhile the Caps got two goals.

The first one came in the first six minutes. St. Louis lost track of the back side, as they were puck watching, and Washington found Martin Fehervary to end Hofer’s shutout attempt. The young goalie had no chance.

The Blues held that three-goal lead, despite letting Washington have several looks and a couple power plays. Hofer even caught one off the dome on an Alex Ovechkin slap shot that broke the strap on his mask.

Washington made Blues fans a bit nervous at the end of the game. With the goaltender pulled and on a power play, Nicklas Backstrom snapped one past Hofer from the right circle and it was 4-2 late.

St. Louis finished off the game though. Brayden Schenn got an empty net goal from his own goal line, scoring on what looked like a curling play since the puck changed directions.

The Blues ended their two-game losing streak with a nice 5-2 win.

Pros: Hofer

Let’s be up front about this. Hofer was not asked to make any high-caliber saves.

Unlike other games this season, the Blues did not need their goaltender to stand on his head. They needed him to make the saves he should and Hofer did.

That said, it’s almost not just the shot totals. Hofer had to work in this game just because Washington was sending everything at the net.

The Capitals had 69 attempts at the goal. They finished the game with 34 shots.

Only 15 of those were actual chances, so Hofer wasn’t forced to move post to post on most of the shots. Nevertheless, that’s a lot of work on the legs.

Just because a shot went wide doesn’t mean the goaltender didn’t have to work. Sometimes you’ll get more fatigued by shots that go wide just because it’s forcing you to get into a different position quickly.

On top of that, 32 saves is nothing to thumb your nose at either.

Cons: Closing out

I fully acknowledge that when you have a larger lead, the other team is going to come at you. Washington had already started that in the second period and that’s what allowed the Blues to capitalize.

However, St. Louis gives teams way too much room and chance. Ok, Washington is going to bring the pressure, but how can there be no counter?

Four shots in one period when the game is on the line? Perhaps it wasn’t on the line until the final handful of minutes, since the lead was three, but you shouldn’t let it even get to that point. Hold the puck, cycle it around and close things out.

By letting the Capitals bring the pressure, you’re just inviting disaster. It didn’t happen this time around, but it’s an example of why the Blues have been so sporadic this season. They cling to too many leads instead of trying to snuff out all hope.

Pros: Blais

My only problem with Sammy Blais right now is the ridiculous social media reaction. If you’re honestly silly enough to think Blais is a better player than Vladimir Tarasenko, you need to hand in your hockey fan card.

Regardless of that, it’s been fun to watch the guy’s turnaround since re-arriving in St. Louis. He’s got four goals and seven points in 16 games with the Blues after not having scored a single goal for the New York Rangers in parts of two seasons.

We all know about his physicality. Blais finished the night with three statistical hits, and perhaps more in actuality.

However, the big positive for this game was him showcasing his offensive ability. His final season in St. Louis, he was making an early case to be an All-Star candidate until he cooled off. Blais showed off that kind of game on this night.

The first goal was just a high hockey IQ play. The shot was mainly about focusing on the finish, but Blais knew to peel away from all the defenders and find an open spot on the back door.

The second goal was about persistence. Blais simply planted himself in the slot as the puck got pushed to various places. Finally, he slammed his stick on the ice to demand the pass and then finished it off.


This was a battle of two teams in similar situations. Both teams were hanging onto their Stanley Cup championships, having won in 2018 and 2019 in the case of the Capitals and Blues.

Both teams thought they had assembled a roster that would be competitive and be in the thick of the playoff race. Instead, the Blues are all but out of the playoffs and the Capitals are also on the outside looking in.

When it’s two non-playoff teams facing one another, you never know what to expect. Either team could have won and the Blues simply made the most of their opportunities.

Defensively, it’s still sloppy. You’ll never completely shut down an offensive team, but 69 attempts? That’s a bit too much pressure even if half of them missed.

Offensively, it was hit or miss. The Blues did not have enough sustained pressure, but they capitalized.

When Washington started pressing, it opened up things the other way. St. Louis didn’t get a ton of shots, but they made them count, scoring five goals on 22 shots.

St. Louis won the special teams battle, even though they did allow a power play goal. The three previous kills were all when the game was close, giving the Blues the edge and momentum when they needed it.

The newcomers have all stepped up hugely too. Blais was here previously, but he’s still new to this team and he scored two goals.

Kapanen had gone a bit cold, but definitely woke up with a huge slap shot. Vrana made a beautiful pass from the wall to set up Kyrou’s breakaway.

These are all names the Blues will need to stay this productive next season. The fact they’re doing it now should bode well.

Overall, this was a great win. Don’t come at me with that tanking crap and a loss is better for draft status. If this draft is that deep, it shouldn’t matter because the Blues aren’t getting the top pick anyway. Stop wanting the team to lose to get a player you won’t even see for three years.

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I want wins because this team needs to learn how to play for wins again. They did that in this game.