The St. Louis Blues came into their second contest with the Winnipeg Jets having won their last two games overall. They were trying to get to their first actual win streak of the season.
Based on the first half of the first period, you would have thought that win was coming for sure. The Blues were the better team to open the game, were creating the better chances and just looked on their game.
Unfortunately, they missed on some chances to score. One of those was Pavel Buchnevich not converting on the power play.
That would really come home to haunt the Blues when the Jets got their first power play. It only took 23 seconds after the Jets won the faceoff for them to score and take a 1-0 lead.
That seemed to really shift the contest the other direction. The Blues seemed a little stunned by the sharp turnaround and went off their game.
They gave the puck away three times in close proximity and eventually it cost them. Quick passing after the latest giveaway led to a rifle shot from the right circle that cut back across Jordan Binnington’s righe shoulder and it was 2-0.
St. Louis found an answer 40 seconds later. This time the Blues took advantage of a zone hold in, Robert Thomas found a loose puck on the far circle, spun it back to the slot and ripped one in to make it 2-1.
The good feelings didn’t last long though as the Jets came out the stronger team in the second. Not only did they completely flip the shot battle their way, they doubled their lead with another power play goal less than five minutes in.
The Jets dominated the period and might have had more goals if not for a couple big saves and some decent defending to make up for mistakes. Both teams also fumbled good chances to score, which kept the game 3-1 after 40 minutes.
A game that was there for the taking got out of reach early in the third. A miscue by Binnington behind the net left the cage essentially open for Kyle Connor to make it 4-1 just 62 seconds into the third frame.
St. Louis tried to give fans a little bit of hope. A nice breakout of the zone was finished off by a Brayden Schenn backhand.
Alas, the Blues could never really form that last goal into any kind of forward momentum. The Jets completely shut off the neutral zone and eventually scored an empty net goal for a 5-2 final.
Cons: Missed chances
It can’t be said that the Blues didn’t have opportunities to put themselves ahead or bring themselves back into the game. They actually had a lot, but kept failing to convert.
The power play miss was a big one, though not really Buchnevich’s fault. It seemed like a sure bet, but ended up hitting the defenseman’s stick and riding up, negating the chance.
Buchnevnich had another chance late in the first period. He was set up with a breakaway and fumbled the puck, never even getting a shot off when you’d like to think it should have been 2-2.
St. Louis also had around three partially empty nets that they could not score on. One was a big block by some scrambling defenders for the Jets on a play that would have made it 3-2. The others were just missed or the puck bobbled and no shot was taken.
St. Louis is making a terrible habit of not getting anything out of their breakaways. You can’t expect to win if your top guys aren’t converting.
Even the most patient of us had begun to get frustrated with the likes of Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. I don’t even care what their contract is paying them, but we were promised top-line talent and hadn’t seen it regularly enough.
Both have turned that around and Thomas kept his side of things going against the Jets. Not only did he score the first goal of the game for the Blues, but he continues to showcase his responsibility.
He will never be mistaken for Ryan O’Reilly as far as forechecking goes, nor on the defensive side. But, there is marked improvement in effort for those aspects of the game and his continued willingness to actually shoot the puck is getting rewarded.
Even as a member of the goalie union, I try my best to be fair in the assessment of the position. That said, Binnington was good, but not great in this game.
On the plus side, he made some solid saves all game long and finished the night with 32 stops. He made several big saves late in the game to keep the Blues in the contest when it was 4-2.
However, while he was not really the reason the Blues lost, he was not as sharp as you’d like. He almost handed the Jets a goal in the second period when he misplayed the puck off the endwall.
He was unaware that Mark Scheifele was behind the net when he left his crease. If he had stayed in the net, the Jets likely don’t score and 3-1 is much more manageable.
The Jets goal from Pionk to make it 2-0 also felt stoppable. In slow motion, we saw how well placed the shot was, but Binnington’s lack of reaction just made it feel as though he could have done something more on a different night.
Cons: Special teams
The power play was 0-1 and the penalty kill allowed two goals on three tries. That’s really all you need to know.
The penalty kill has been pretty strong, so you hope this was a one off against a hot power play. Still, not only did they allow two goals, but both came pretty early in the power play.
Conversely, the power play continues to struggle. Yes, ideally Buchnevich buries his chance, but even though they looked better they still came up empty.
On top of that, the Blues aren’t doing enough to even draw penalties. In two games, they have one power play attempt.
On the positive side, the Blues played reasonably well. They were the better team for the first eight minutes of the first period.
For most of the games this year, when the Blues lost they looked bad to terrible. In this game, the Jets just made more from their opportunities and the Blues did not.
On the negative side, you give away a game to a divisional opponent that looked behind the eight ball early in the game. You fail to step on their throat and then one silly penalty comes back to haunt you and the Blues never truly recovered.
The game boiled down to missed chances. Score on the power play, one breakaway or any one of those empty nets and we have a completely different game.
This was just one of those nights where things didn’t go your way. The defense was fine.
The offense was ok when the game was close. When the Jets got a couple goal lead, they clamped down and gave no room to create.
Goaltending was decent enough to win most games. Binnington seemed just a bit off, but only your typical social media goons will blame him.
A loss is a loss and there’s no moral victories to be had. That said, it just doesn’t feel as disheartening as several of the other losses earlier in the season.
Brush it off and attempt to right the ship against Arizona. For the love of everything good, please shut down Keller and Schmaltz.