St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 38 At Carolina

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues continue to confound, but also surprise. Coming off a solid performance against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blues were looking to get some more wins under their belt, but the Carolina Hurricanes stood in their way.

The first period, statistically, wasn't much to speak of. There were 11 shots total and six went to the Hurricanes.

The lack of offense sort of made sense. Carolina was on the back end of a back-to-back situation and the Blues have been looking to play defense to spring the counters.

Despite the lack of shots, the Blues got on the board first. Instead of freezing the puck, Jordan Binnington kept it alive and two quick passes sprung a breakaway for recently promoted Nathan Walker. The Aussie made a little move and tucked it past the goaltender for a 1-0 lead just over 11 minutes in.

Unfortunately, the lead lasted just over too minutes. A strange faceoff win for the Canes went, unintentionally, to the slot. Teuvo Teravainen repositioned just enough to get the shot past Marco Scandella and Binnington for a power play goal to tie it.

Then, the game went silent. The Blues offense remained the same, but was still stagnant. They had seven shots in the second and third periods each.

St. Louis' lone power play in the second period was truly awful. They mustered no shots on goal and couldn't really even cross the blue line on the attack.

Once that power play was over, they spent much of the rest of the period - the game, really - trying to defend. The Blues relied heavily on Binnington, who stopped 13 shots in the second and 29 overall.

St. Louis didn't score in overtime either, but they at least looked better in phases. Brayden Schenn had some good looks, including a breakaway that got shut down.

Once the game went into a shootout, the feeling was the Blues got a point. Their shootouts are often just barely better than their power play.

However, for once, things went their way. Binnington stoned the first three shooters before he allowed Sebastian Aho to get one past him.

Jake Neighbours showed ice in his veins by slotting one home to keep the Blues alive. Binnington made the next save and, interestingly, the veteran Schenn was the only player to come in with speed and strike for the game winner. The final goes down as 2-1 Blues, with a 2-1 mark in the shootout as well.

Pro: Binnington

Even if the Blues failed to win this contest, Binnington would have been one of their stars. I understand that 13 shots doesn't sound that much, but he had to make several top saves in the second period alone.

In the second intermission, they gave stats about the high danger chances. Six were listed as high danger and then all but three of the rest were listed as medium danger.

Basically, Binnington stopped everything he could. There was a slight deflection on the lone Carolina goal, so he was given no chance to stop that shot by that statisticians. That means your goalie is playing lights out and giving you every opportunity to win.

Some will whine, but the bottom line is Binnington kept the Blues in this thing longer than they should have been. They get two points largely on his back, due to his stops in the game and also the shootout.

Con: Special teams

For awhile, it seemed like things were turning a corner. The power play was looking much better and just needed to get goals as rewards and the penalty kill was steady.

Now, the power play has reverted to what it was and the PK is allowing goals at untimely places in the game.

For this game, the PK wasn't terrible. It was just a faceoff win that actually missed its intended target, but still went to a sniper in a prime scoring area.

From the general sense, however, you still allowed a power play goal against. Your PK didn't stand up and gain momentum for your team and, instead, gave it to the opponent by allowing them to tie it.

Concurrently, the power play generated absolutely nothing. If you gain some momentum and feel good about your play, maybe you carry that through the period even if you don't score. The Blues power play not only does not score, but gives up more chances than they create.

I thought maybe it was a first vs. second unit kind of thing, but even the second unit was bad.

Pro: Youngster and the vet step up

Part of me feels weird referring to Schenn as the vet, like he's some grizzled, old player on his last legs. He's only 32.

Still, he got his first game when he was 18 and has played full seasons since he was 20. So, he's the veteran and the captain.

He got the job done, in the end. You would have liked to see him finish it off in overtime, to get that statistical goal.

Schenn hasn't scored a point in 12 games and not a goal in 16 games. So, it would have been good to get that monkey off his back.

Nevertheless, he won the game for his team. The captain stepped up in the best way possible in that moment. Somewhat surprising was the manner, too. Schenn isn't slow, but he's not a blazer either. So, to see him race down the ice and just beat the goaltender, while everyone else was going slow and methodical, was good to see.

Similarly, it's also great to see Neighbours continue to establish himself. He also doesn't get a statistical goal, but he's proving himself to be mentally tough and dependable in all situations.

In the old days, you'd never trust a rookie (technically) with that kind of spot. Neighbours has earned trust and validated it by keeping the Blues alive. If he misses, the Hurricanes win. It might be only a game in January, but that's some cool nerves to come up big in that situation.


The Blues definitely don't make it comfortable. They defend too much, rely on their goalies too much, can't score a power play goal to save their life and go long stretched without consistent offense.

If you're winning the game, you're still doing your job though. Younger fans aren't accustomed to 2-1 scores, but that's still a good result.

Just as impressive as the win by that score is who they've done it against. We have seen the Blues beat Dallas, Vancouver and now Carolina by 2-1 scores.

Yes, some of those came in shootout fashion, but you're still managing to thrive in close situations against good teams. All three of those teams are either in first in their division, or at least contending for the top spot.

The worry, of course, is how dependable are these kinds of results. You've done it against good teams, which is what you need in the playoffs, but this isn't a talented enough team to rely on razor thin margins every single night.

It's great that it worked out, but there needs to be more still. The Blues almost had as many shots in overtime as they did in the first period.

You're relying on your goalie to bail you out. In addition to the 30 shots on goal, the Blues blocked 25 and Carolina missed some as well. If they didn't have close to 70 shot attempts, I'd be surprised.

The bottom line is the team won and it's always a good feeling to get the W. It would just be nice to not have it be by the skin of your teeth on occasion.