St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 31 At Tampa

The St. Louis Blues were bound to have a slip up after the coaching change. Nobody saw the cliff that was the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Blues had looked pretty good since their coaching change. They beat the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars in respective fashion.

We all knew they would have a drop off following the change at some point. They completely reverted to type against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Although the period transpired much differently than the Dallas game, the Blues still found themselves down by multiple goals in the first period. Yet again, they allowed the opening goal when Jordan Binnington made a mistake handling the puck.

The goal got checked for possibly going off a glove, but ultimately counted. St. Louis kept Tampa off the board any more until late.

With just over two minutes left, Tampa got another goal off a scramble in front of the net. This one was double checked too, but also counted.

Although 2-0 could have been manageable, it was not to be. Nikita Kucherov snapped a long shot that snuck through Binnington for a 3-0 lead with just 14 seconds left.

The league's leading point scorer got his second just 96 seconds into the second period. He was open in some space from the right circle and got it through the five hole.

The Lightning chased Binnington from the game with the fifth goal. It was a knuckle puck shot from the point that seemed to be deflected or change direction, but was credited to the original shot taker.

It stayed 5-0 until almost midway through the third period. Then the Lightning power play just lit the Blues up with passes. It ended 6-0 with a tip in from the edge of the crease.

The Blues got to at least play spoiler. They got a rare power play goal when Justin Faulk whipped a wrist shot from between the blue line and high slot, giving him his first goal of the year and the Blues their first goal of the game.

It would be their only goal and 6-1 was the final.

Cons: Binnington

Right from the start, Jordan Binnington just never looked that comfortable in this game. That's a little surprising since he was pelted early on. Tampa had eight shots on goal before the Blues even got one and normally goaltenders like some work early.

However, Binner was just off. You could see it on the first goal when the normally steady puck handler made a mistake that led directly to a score.

After that, he just never looked that right. Even on saves, he seemed to be off his bearings.

The first Kucherov goal is one you would like him to stop. That's an elite scorer, but given the distance from goal, even with a little traffic, you'd figure Binnington would be able to take that one in the midsection.

Similarly, it wasn't good optics to get beat through the legs on Kucherov's second goal either. I think the assumption was the shot would go high, so he didn't react quickly enough, but that circles back to just being a step off.

Fans will overreact to the fifth goal against, but that's tough. There's bodies in front, it's impossible to judge the flight path of a puck that was on egde and it still looked like it changed direction. Still, it's not the hardest of shots and I think if Binnington was on his game, that's a save made.

Many will and they have their argument, but I don't blame Binnington for the loss. One goal isn't going to cut it. But, he definitely did not have his A-game.

Pros: Power play

This is a sort of pro. Overall, the power play wasn't that great.

Going 1-3 isn't terrible, but the same problems continue to pop up. Tampa has no shorthanded goals all season and the Blues gave them opportunities to get their first on both of St. Louis' first power plays.

However, as bad as this team has been on the power play, you have to give them credit when they do score. St. Louis now has power play goals in two straight games, meaning Hell must be pretty chilly this time of year.

The success came with a unit that was not the typical top line, so maybe the Blues will look to change things up more. Jake Neighbours and Faulk gave the puck back and forth and then Faulk unleashed an immaculately placed shot.

Cons: Lackluster

For a game where you allow six goals, the Blues really weren't that bad. Believe me, we have seen much worse in this season.

However, the problem was they looked like they were standing straight up while the Lightning were active and ready all the time. It's hard to be athletic when you're straight up and down.

I got the sense that the Blues were trying, but it just wasn't there for any of them. They couldn't move fast enough, react quick enough or connect on anything until it was far too late.

Both Kucherov goals are ones that you'd like Binnington to stop, but why was the leading point scorer in the league essentially open for both shots? It wasn't like he worked himself free. He essentially glided into the spot where he scored each time.

St. Louis got a little more engaged after some sort of altercation between the benches, but that was late in the third period. You've got to be on your toes for the entire thing.

Overview:

This was the game I totally expected at some point following the coach change. I hoped I was wrong and actually said after four or five games, but I knew it was coming.

The problems that St. Louis have are and were not coaching related. So, it was always going to be a momentary boost with a new guy behind the bench.

The hope was it would be more a gradual regression. Instead, the Blues went all the way back to the problems that got Craig Berube fired.

Although I said they were not that bad, the reality is this game could have been worse. If not for some decent defensive plays, the Blues did allow some Bolts to sneak up on the back door.

34 shots against isn't terrible. However, Tampa missed the net on some of their best looks and still scored six times.

This was just an all-around bad combination for St. Louis. Their goaltending was not great, the offense was not very good, nor did they have much zone time and they ran into a hot goaltender on the chances they did generate.

To look at a positive, if the Blues weren't playing one of the best goalies in the league, I think they get three goals. Maybe it's a different outlook then.

However, they did face one of the best and couldn't generate enough sustained pressure. The Blues also reverted to type by not being able to clear the puck enough to keep themselves from needlessly wasting energy defensively.

It doesn't get easier for the Blues. Next up is a game against the Florida Panthers. They better show up early or it could be another long night.