The St. Louis Blues seem to be finding a comfort zone now that the trade deadline is in the rearview mirror. They had won two in a row and had a good start against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blues got on the board first, just over two minutes into the game. Of all people, it was Robert Bortuzzo to tick the score box.
Bortz showcased some slick stickhandling skills for the score. Taking the puck outside the circle, his initial shot was blocked and then he wiggled his way to the top of the crease for a backhand goal to make it 1-0.
That lasted around five minutes. Detroit was the beneficiary of a weak penalty on Justin Faulk and tied it 1-1 on the ensuing power play. It was tic-tac-toe and David Perron found the man on the back post for a tip in.
St. Louis re-took the lead halfway through the period. The Blues continued the defensive scoring as Marco Scandella took a push-shot from the point and it found it’s way in for the 2-1 lead.
The lead would not last the period though. St. Louis lost a faceoff and had a blocked shot go directly to an open Red Wing for an empty net tap in since Joel Hofer was still reacting to the initial shot.
The rest of the game was a bunch of nothing. The two teams combined for 15 shots in the second period, many of which were not even scoring chances.
The Blues reverted to type in the third period. They had eight shots on goal, most of which weren’t anything to speak of.
They relied on Joel Hofer far too much as well. He stopped 14 shots in the third period alone.
Despite all that, the game remained 2-2 through three periods of play.
The Blues best chances came in overtime. They had three shots to one, including a long shift where they kept the Detroit trio on the ice for almost two minuts.
Nick Leddy was denied on a breakaway in overtime. St. Louis just couldn’t get the job done in the extra period.
Jakub Vrana was denied on the first shot of the shootout. Hofer made a right pad save on his first attempt. Kyrou deked too much and got too close, giving him little to shoot at. Detroit shot wide on their second attempt. Pavel Buchnevich shot high and wide on the backhander. Hofer made a stick save on Dylan Larkin.
Ultimately, the Red Wings snuck one by Hofer and grabbed a 3-2 win.
Cons: Power play
This team has a lot of new faces – some young faces – so it is hard to get a good read on who or what they are or can be. Sometimes the power play has looked improved and simplified.
That was not the case in this game. The Blues barely got shots on goal during their three power plays.
They didn’t move the puck with any reliability or purpose. It was a bunch of nothing.
For the third game in a row, the rookie netminder for the Blues looked like a guy that had years of experience. He faced 30 shots in regulation and overtime and stopped 28 of them.
Again, the Blues did a decent job of forcing chances from the perimeter. Still, Hofer was probably one of the top Blues players in this contest.
He’s very calm in his movements and gets set quickly. He has consistently robbed teams with his glove hand and has just enough flair to rub it in without drawing too much attention.
I will never be on board with the shootout deciding games. It’s a terrible way to end a game.
That said, the Blues should have more ability to score in these than they do. I don’t know the stats, but they are one of the worst teams in the shootout based on the eye test.
It just seems like too many of them either don’t do anything or wait too long and have no room to get the puck up. It’s not a science, but the shooter should still be at an advantage and it never feels that way for the Blues.
For a matchup that used to be one of the best rivalries in hockey, this was as dull as you could get. I’ll admit to partial distraction throughout the game, but there just wasn’t a ton of energy to the game.
It seemed to go back and forth and not really amount to anything. It had more of an exhibition feel to it.
The Blues didn’t play that poorly. In fact, maybe you could argue they should have won.
That tying goal for Detroit was a lot of luck. The puck just bounced right to one of their guys, giving Hofer no chance.
On the other hand, the Blues didn’t do much to earn it. 22 shots isn’t terrible, but it’s just not enough. My fear is the newer players are falling too much into this quality over quantity mindset and it prevents them from putting pucks on goal.
Defensively, the Blues were fine. There weren’t any big breakdowns on the goals.
Yeah, the first goal was another back door play, but the pass was so good, you just give them credit.
St. Louis will be familiar with their next opponent since they’re going to Detroit to face the Wings again. Hopefully, there’s a little more umph to that game.