The St. Louis Blues got off to a hot start against the Buffalo Sabres and then hung on despite playing a rather poor game overall. Things didn’t work out the same way against the Arizona Coyotes.
In a reverse of their midweek game, the Blues allowed the first three goals instead of scoring them. The first came just 40 seconds in, before most of us even settled on the couch.
The defenders dropped down low and the forwards lost track of their marks. The Coyotes found a man all alone in the slot to make it 1-0.
Arizona continued to dominate the special teams battle against the Blues. They doubled the lead on the power play with another slot goal and also kept the Blues from even getting a shot on the power play, making the Blues 0-13 on the power play against Arizona to that point.
St. Louis had brief glimpses here and there, but only had one shot on goal until the final two minutes of the period. They also allowed another goal in the final minute of the period.
The Blues saw an odd-man rush come at them and Torey Krug couldn’t prevent the pass even after poking the puck loose twice. The shot from the right circle went high over the shoulder of Joel Hofer to make it 3-0.
St. Louis played much better in the second period, but had nothing to show for it. They had two two-on-one attacks in the first 12 minutes of the frame, but really didn’t test the goaltender as much as you’d like. John Kelly made it sound like good saves, but the shots were kind of pedestrian.
One of the best looks of the second period came on another Blues power play. Kevin Hayes had a couple cracks at the rebound, but put one back into the goalie and the second wide.
St. Louis also should have scored in the final minute. Colton Parayko got the puck on the right and had the goalie down, but couldn’t beat Connor Ingram.
The Blues looked good early in the third. They nearly scored on a back door play to Robert Thomas in the first 90 seconds, but missed the puck.
It looked like the Coyotes had a 4-0 lead, but it went off a skate. After review, it was kicked in, so it remained 3-0.
After continuing the pressure, the Blues finally got on the board about midway through the game. After a brief scramble, Brandon Saad cashed in on the rebound to make it 3-1, making the question whether there was enough time for a comeback.
It briefly looked like it would be 3-2 with 1:43 left. Unfortunately, Jake Neighbours deflection went off the crossbar instead of the upper netting.
The Coyotes sealed it with 1:15 left. They scored from about 170 feet away into the empty net and it finished 4-1.
Cons: First period
For a good portion of this game, the teams were pretty even. There were even flashes where the Blues were the better team, mostly in the second period.
However, the Coyotes took care of business and the Blues were pretty sad in the first period. The strange thing is they weren’t truly awful, but they just played like it was a scrimmage at times.
The offense was nonexistent. They eventually had three shots in the period, but as mentioned they only had one shot on goal for about 18 minutes. How that is even possible is beyond me.
The stats initially had the Coyotes for 12 shots in the first. Somehow that got changed by the official statistician to nine shots, which made Hofer’s save percentage that much worse for those 20 minutes.
The power play goal was what it was. My gripe there is the Blues were standing too upright, which makes it too hard to react to anything.
The first and third goals were preventable. The first goal, it is beyond comprehension how the forwards allow a player to get into the slot unmolested and not even make a movement toward him. Fans like to blame the defenders, but that’s all on the forwards for not finding that third man gliding through the middle.
The third goal was bad luck but when you get two pokes on the puck, you’d like to actually separate it from the opponent. Instead, the lack of a backcheck meant the odd-man rush would prove to be successful.
Pros: Glimpses from everyone
This one is a bit of a cheat because I honestly couldn’t single out an individual player or phase of the game that was a true positive from the Blues. I guess you could say the second period.
However, despite the loss, I didn’t feel any player really had that bad a game. They all had moments to shine and there were just too many moments where they failed to convert.
Kasperi Kapanen (nearly typed Sami, which would have shown my age) continues to show good speed and puck control as well as some tenacity. Pavel Buchnevich drives the net. The top line had plenty of good shifts offensively. Defensively, they weren’t great, but you need them to score first and foremost and they at least created.
Neighbours continues to look like someone who could be a top-six forward for the Blues. In live time, most of us thought his deflection late in the game went in, which would have given him points in six of his last eight.
Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko are much different, and better than they were last year. There is offensive dynamism from both, while not sacrificing as much defensively. Nick Leddy looks much more like the defender the Blues brought in than what he also endured last season.
I could list almost everyone that played since they all had a play here or a shift there that were excellent. They just couldn’t solve the goalie early enough.
This was just a weird game. If you look at the box score alone, you would be puzzled as to how the Blues lost, let alone lost 4-1.
St. Louis outshot Arizona 32-22. By the end of the game, they also outchanced them too.
The Blues had fewer penalty minutes and also more hits. St. Louis was the better team for 35 or 40 minutes of the game.
Unfortunately, they were undone by another bad start. This team is not bad, but they’re also not good enough to overcome a first period where you allow three goals and only have three shots on goal.
Even if the score was 2-0 after one, I don’t think it makes enough of a difference. They played well, but their backs were broken for the entire first period based on that first goal coming so early.
The special teams continues to spoil games too. They are now 0-15 against Arizona on the power play for the entire season. St. Louis also allowed a power play goal. Even though they have the second best PK in the league on the road, they just always look like they’ll get scored on.
They were also not good on faceoffs. Only Hayes and Thomas were above 50% and the team only won 40% of their draws. That means you’re not getting possession to stay in the zone or to clear it out, making the game more difficult even when not trailing.
The Blues have to find a way to start better. Don’t come at me with coaching or captaincy crap.
Craig Berube and Brayden Schenn say all the right things and the team knows what they have to do. For whatever reason, there’s just too many lapses in first periods right now and it’s costing them crucial points.