The St. Louis Blues had been pretty hot coming into April, but they played a cruel April Fool’s joke on the fans by not even showing up for their game in Nashville. A quick flight home and the best team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, was waiting for them.
The first period didn’t get off to the best of starts. St. Louis actually didn’t play too poorly, but Sammy Blais picked up an injury fairly early in the game.
Nevertheless, St. Louis was trying to stay engaged in all aspects of the game. That cost them a little bit when Colton Parayko got caught up ice and the Bruins scored on the counter attack to make it 1-0. Jordan Binnington saved the initial shot, but there were two Bruins there to pick up the rebound and not really any Blues close enough.
St. Louis hung in there for the rest of the period. However, their power play continued to be an embarrassment.
Nick Leddy came close to tying the game late in the first, only to clank a flutterer off the crossbar. It was the second crossbar the Blues hit in the opening frame, giving them two clear cut chances that didn’t even count as shots. The ones that were shots barely troubled Linus Ullmark.
The second period was initially going well for the Blues. Alexei Toropchenko had a partial break that got robbed with a nice glove save, but it went downhill from then.
Brayden Schenn got a stick to the eye, which was not called, and this was after he took a skate to the finger in the first period. Not long after that, the Blues took a penalty and the Bruins scored almost immediately with a back-door play.
The Bruins tripled the lead 44 seconds later. A shot from the left circle went off Binnington’s glove and Oskar Steen jammed in the rebound.
St. Louis actually had some decent chances at the Boston net in the second period. They kept going to the glove side and not having any success, no matter how much space they thought they had.
The Blues found a bit of a different gear toward the end of the second. They got themselves on the board with Parayko driving the zone without the puck, giving Jordan Kyrou some room and a screen, which he utilized to score and make it 3-1.
St. Louis kept the intensity for the third period. For the second-straight period, the Blues got 14 shots on goal.
It took nearly half the period, but the Blues did get another on the board. Torey Krug scored to make it 3-2 and give the home crowd some hope and life.
St. Louis had two power plays in the third period though and could not make anything out of them. It seemed as though it was a sure loss when the Blues pulled the goalie since Boston is so good and the Blues almost never tie it.
Somehow, they did find the tying goal. Kyrou got his second of the game after St. Louis got a couple whacks in front of the net and then found Kyrou on the right circle.
Overtime was pretty crazy. Overall, there was a lack of shots with only three combined.
Nevertheless, it was back and forth with each team coming ever so close. It seemed like Boston ended it with a goal midway through the overtime period, but it was reviewed and called back as David Pastrnak was offside.
St. Louis had a couple chances, but Schenn gave the puck away while trying to shoot and leading to a Brad Marchand breakaway. Binnington stoned him to keep the game going and also stopped another shot from the left circle towards the end of OT.
St. Louis more than earned their point, but their lack of skill and decision making cost them in the shootout. Kyrou, Vrana and Schenn were all stopped, with Schenn going to the glove side again and getting robbed like everyone for the Blues all day.
Boston only needed the one goal and sealed the 4-3 overtime win.
The Blues have not been a good come from behind team in 2022-23 at all. Usually, even if they make it close, they cannot find that tying goal to finish things off.
It seemed over when it was 3-0. You’re facing the best team in the league and one that might set the all-time record for wins.
Despite that, Schenn getting hurt twice (three if you count the high stick he took to the nose), missing Blais for half a period, and not having two key players, the Blues came back. They did it the smart way, just trying to get the next goal.
Earlier in the season, they looked like they were trying to tie it up with one goal, even though they were trailing by three or four. In this one, they just wanted to score one and then get the next.
Cons: Special teams
For the second game in a row, and the umpteenth in recent memory, the Blues special teams was either a non-factor or a negative influence on this game. It would be one thing if you just weren’t getting power play goals, but they’re allowing them too.
St. Louis was 0-4 on the power play and basically didn’t even threaten. Boston was 1-2 on their power play.
That’s about as clear cut as you get when you can say it cost the Blues. If you kill the penalties, Boston might not win. If you score a goal on the power play, maybe the Blues win in regulation.
The end result is harder to tell, but the Blues would have had a much better chance at winning if their special teams was not a travesty.
One game after getting on his case, and deservedly so, Jordan Kyrou redeemed himself. Even this early in his career, we might as well acknowledge that Kyrou is never going to be very good defensively and may never be that strong on the puck either.
But, you pay a guy like that to score goals and he did that. He used the net drive of a teammate to take the defender out of space and snipe the first goal.
On the second goal, instead of just shuffle-boarding a shot to the net right when it came to him, he took the amount of time the defense gave him. He picked his corner and tied the game.
Frankly, he should have scored in the shootout. He simply got too close to goal and hit the side instead of putting it in the net.
Still, these are the games that make the previous game’s effort bearable.
This game went a lot better than many of us expected. As good as Boston can be, even if the Blues played their absolute best, this had the danger of being an 8-3 final.
Instead, the Blues kept a lid on the game just long enough. The two goals in a short span in the second period was disappointing, but it didn’t snowball to three and four.
Ideally, Binnington catches the Bruins’ third goal and they never score on the rebound. If that happens, maybe we get a different result.
However, the fact the Blues buckled down and tied this one was quite encouraging. This game showed that there is still a bit of spirit in that locker room. The problem going forward is there is absolutely no depth, so while this team might be a borderline playoff contender in 2023-24, they’re a couple injury problems from being in the lottery again.
For this game alone, it was just nice to see them keep chipping away. Guys had that playoff mentality, even though they were officially eliminated from the postseason with the loss.
Blais came back even after missing a good chunk of the first period. Schenn came back three times, once with the busted fingernail and twice from getting sticks to the face.
You don’t want guys to have those injury worries, but it’s nice to know they still want to finish things out even though they’d be within their rights to pack it in for the night.
There’s only a handful of games left, but even as poor as this season has gone, it’s games like this that will make me miss hockey once we don’t have it.