The St. Louis Blues had a furious comeback against the Boston Bruins a couple days ago, but fell short in the shootout loss. St. Louis was determined not to need such a come from behind effort against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Blues got off to a good start and kept their foot on the gas for the most part. They actually got double-digit shots in the first period, which is something that has become pretty rare.
St. Louis got on the board first too. The Blues got some good fortune when an errant pass from the corner went right to Jordan Kyrou in the slot and he buried it for the 1-0 lead just before the six-minute mark.
The rest of the period went by without another goal. Still, the Blues were outplaying the Flyers for the first 20 minutes.
The second 20 went even better. The Blues got their second goal just over five minutes in.
The fourth line got in the action this time around. Tyler Pitlick trailed Alexei Toropchenko and he was the one to snap the puck up high before the goalie could even move and we had a 2-0 game.
Things got a little testy, with some second period physicality. The Blues kept things calm, despite some guys wanting to drop the gloves, and earned a power play.
Though they didn’t score on the power play, the second half of it looked good. The first half was bad, but once they established the zone, they were good and just barely missed on the power play goal. Justin Faulk went for a slap pass to Brandon Saad and missed, but then roofed one from the slot just after the penalty elapsed and we had a 3-0 game.
St. Louis thought they had it up to 4-0 when Sammy Blais tapped in a back door play. It was reviewed and called back for offside though, so it stayed 3-0 after two periods.
The Flyers came out with a little more pep in the third period. They were starting to push and even put one into the back of the net.
However, during live play, the referee waived it off for being gloved into the net. They reviewed it and it seemed as though it went incidentally off the forearm, but the Blues still got the benefit of the doubt and the no goal call stood, so it remained 3-0 early in the frame.
That did not last too long though. Just a little over a minute later, a long shot from the point seemed to be heading into Jordan Binnington’s glove, but James VanRiemsdyk got a late deflection and it was 3-1.
Philly tried to capitalize on that pressure. They got a partial odd-man rush with about 9:30 left and Binnington made a solid blocker save to keep the lead at two. He came up with another great save on a scramble as he pulled a Hasek by dropping his stick and reaching out to make the save with the blocker.
Unfortunately, the Blues succumbed to the pressure as the Flyers would make it 3-2. Binnington made the initial saves, but a tipped puck went off his pad and Philly tapped in the rebound to make it a one-goal game.
Though the Blues had the power play, it was the Flyers with the best looks in the first minute. Binnington continued to channel his inner Dominik Hasek as he swatted one down from his belly and then caught it on the comeback chance.
St. Louis had a look at the empty net with about 90 seconds left, but the Flyers had a man back to glove it down. Though it looked as though the Flyers were going to score, Binnington made more saves even if he made us all nervous by looking behind him.
Eventually, Toropchenko was able to get one into the empty net. The Blues would hold on for a 4-2 win in the end.
I’m not sure if there has been a more controversial figure for the Blues than Jordan Binnington in recent memory, if ever. The bottom line is that, at his peak, he is a top-notch goaltender and can steal games.
Though the team played well for 40 minutes, it was Binnington that held the fort in the third period. If not for him, the Flyers tie this game and might win in regulation.
30 saves on 32 shots isn’t totally mind blowing. When you take into account the quality of the saves in the last six or seven minutes left, then it does become that much more impressive.
Binnington didn’t flop around quite as much as Hasek in the old days. Still, the ability to make saves from awkward positions was very reminiscent of the Hall of Fame goaltender.
Cons: Blowing the lead
The Blues actually stayed pretty steady on offense in the third period. They got another 10 shots on goal, giving them double digits in every period.
However, they continue to absorb too much pressure late in games. I fully understand that teams that are losing are going to throw caution to the wind and push for goals.
Yet, that doesn’t mean you just let them have all the chances they can. The Blues had played well for 40 minutes and then just lose their ability and get pushed onto their heels too easily.
St. Louis allowed 16 shots through two periods, which is fantastic. They allowed 18 in the third period alone.
That’s simply not fair to Binnington. While he stood up to the challenge, he should have had a shutout if the team continued to play as well in the third as they had earlier in the game.
The problem I have with the Blues is that they scramble far too much. The Flyers got tips and rebounds because the Blues were often down on a knee or diving out, trying to recover.
Kyrou didn’t have the best game of all time, but he was solid again. For two games in a row after being chastised by Craig Berube, Kyrou has gotten the job done on the offensive side.
While we’ve seen better goals from him, the way he scored was important. Not only did he score the first goal of the game, but he made the Flyers pay for a horrendous turnover.
As far as Kyrou goes, it was an important goal because it showed situational awareness. He could easily have turned around and headed to the neutral zone. Instead, whether to receive a possible pass from Saad or put pressure on the Flyers, he settled into the slot and got rewarded for it.
This game had no business being as close as it was. Credit to the Flyers for making the comeback, but if the Blues could just play the same way for 60 minutes, this would easily have been a 3-1 or 4-1 final.
Instead, the Blues just kind of let their opponent do whatever they want. Even at five-on-five, at times, it looks like the other team is on the power play.
Six-on-five is even worse. The Blues just settle into a defensive shell and fans have to just wait for the inevitable tying goal.
This time around that goal never came. It was not like it wasn’t close though.
Binnington had to bail the team out big time. That’s not always the easiest thing to do when you haven’t had much work through two periods and then, suddenly, you’re in the fire.
Offensively, the Blues continue to spread the wealth. Kyrou gets things rolling, two fourth-line players scored and a defender (Faulk) also added to the scoring.
The way this team plays, at their best, they can still hang. It makes you ponder whether the turnaround might be short.
However, with the continued special teams struggles and lack of anything resembling depth, it’s still very much up in the air what this team will be going forward.