The St. Louis Blues were trying to finish of the 2022-23 season on a high note and a “winning” record. They were facing a familiar team, seeing the Dallas Stars for the second time in as many nights.
Things got off to a decent start for the Blues. They had a couple early chances and the game was reasonably even in the opening portion of the contest.
However, the same old mistakes started creeping in. The Blues continued to allow the back door play and St. Louis required a fantastic start by Jordan Binnington to keep things even.
St. Louis had an early power play, but it was about as inept as ever. They accomplished nothing and then Justin Faulk actually turned the puck over around his own blue line, leading to a two-on-one that Binnington managed to make a pad save on.
Despite all that, the Blues managed to create a couple chances the other way. But, despite their nine shots and a few good looks, they kept trying to force the back door play of their own and it just was not there.
The Blues had a similar start in the second period. They kept things even keel until the Stars rattled off around eight or nine straight shots unanswered.
Even so, the Blues came close on occasion. Robert Thomas almost had his 19th goal of the year, but a defensive stop on the play kept that from coming to fruition.
Binnington had to be sharp throughout the first 40 minutes, stopping more than 20 shots in total. The Blues took some silly penalties too, though the penalty kill actually did their job in the first two frames.
The third period was much of the same from the Blues and Stars early. The Stars got the crowd on their feet trying to connect on the backside, but Binnington continued to stand strong.
Eventually, that goaltending and the Blues luck could hold up no longer. Around four minutes in, similar to the previous night, the Blues got a blocked shot that went right to Dallas. The shot from the left went off the far post and Wyatt Johnson cashed in to make it 1-0.
The Stars started smelling blood in the water. They kept peppering the net and Binnington would make the stops, but loose pucks came close to ending up behind him.
St. Louis couldn’t get anything going. They didn’t get their first shot in the third period until almost nine minutes in.
The Blues were awarded another power play close to midway through the period. Though they didn’t allow any shorthanded looks, it was yet another wasted chance to do anything.
The Stars almost doubled their lead after a wraparound attempt close to 15 minutes in. A late stick came in to barely deflect what would have been an empty net shot wide.
St. Louis got a little bit of late offense, but it was a lot of one and done’s. There was just no sustained pressure.
The Blues pulled their goaltender and worked the puck reasonably well, however their passes to the point got knocked out twice and St. Louis barely kept them from scoring. St. Louis had a handful of looks at goal with the six-on-five, but they couldn’t get the job done and fell by the score of 1-0.
Cons: Power play
Well, reverse the special teams failure from the previous night. In St. Louis, it was the power play that was “ok” and the penalty kill that failed.
It was the opposite in this game. The penalty kill actually killed off both Stars power plays.
However, the power play for the Blues was just abysmal. We’ve been over this a thousand times, but there is no excuse any longer, if there ever was.
I don’t care if you’re using third or fourth line guys out there. The inability to connect on quick passes or make smart decisions is baffling.
These are good players out there for St. Louis – not great, but good. The fact that they exit the zone due to their own bumbling nature more often that not is beyond frustrating.
Whether or not Jordan Binnington is as good as he was in 2019 will forever be a debate among fans online. What is true is that, regardless of what haters say or what they think the stats say, Binnington keeps this team in games far longer than they deserve.
Dallas is a top team in the league this year and gets a lot of pucks to the net. It’s not just about the shots though, but the legit chances the Blues allow.
Binnington stopped probably three or more backdoor plays in the first period alone. He faced 34 shots and kept 33 of them out of the net.
Frankly, most nights that should get you a win. It’s not Binnington’s fault the Blues could only muster 25 shots, 11 of which came late and most of which weren’t grade-A chances anyway.
Cons: Bad luck
The Blues didn’t play well, but they didn’t play poorly either. There were moments where defenders actually made good plays, blocked shots and Binnington had a decent game too.
Unfortunately, even when the team is actually putting forth a little effort, it goes for naught. The goal the Stars scored was somewhat in the making, but it was also a pretty lucky play.
For the second night in a row, a blocked shot ended up taking a fortunate Stars bounce and they put it into an empty net. There’s nothing the goalie can do there because the puck takes a different direction after the block, the next shot ends up going off the post and right to Stars players in both instances.
You actually had guys making the effort to block shots, but unfortunate bounces and good luck for the Stars made it just another bad play for the Blues.
Well, this game pretty much went as the entire 2022-23 season has. There were glimpses and flashes of a better Blues team, but ultimately they just fell flat.
There wasn’t enough offense. Nine shots in the first is tolerable, but five in the second is not going to cut it. Three of those five came in the final two minutes, so it was 18 minutes of nothing.
The third period saw the Blues turn it on a little bit, but it’s too little, too late by then. You need to have 11 shots in at least a couple periods, if not all three.
The Blues tried to turn it on late and that’s too late by far. The game could have easily been out of reach by that point and was only a contest due to the St. Louis goaltending.
In the end, there was enough good out of this team in the final 15 games or so to think they can turn things around in relatively quick fashion. However, even the newer guys and younger guys made all the same mistakes we saw out of the social media whipping boys.
That is what has me worried for this team’s future. At their best, there is a reasonable amount of talent left, but if the mistakes of the veterans have rubbed off on anyone that joined the team in the last quarter of the year then it will take a lot to remove those mistakes from an entire roster.
Frankly, this game made me sad. I’m sad the Blues lost, sad they didn’t really play that well and sad the season is over.
It stung when ESPN pointed out that for teams that miss the playoffs, it is six months until the next season. Even as poor as the Blues have been, seeing them play is better than no hockey at all. Hopefully the offseason will go quickly and we can focus on games again soon.