St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 46 At Vancouver

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Blues began their western road trip with a solid win in Calgary. The game in Vancouver wasn't quite as necessary to win, but any points are important if you can get them.

The way the first half of the first period went, it looked like it was going to be a disaster. The Canucks came out on fire and the Blues did not have a shot until around 11 minutes in.

Despite the slow start, the Blues weathered the storm and actually struck first. Jake Neighbours continued to showcase talent above what some of us thought he might have as he settled in on the left hashmarks and wired a one-timer for the 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, the Blues had another one and it came from a suddenly resurgent power play. The Blues worked quick passes around and Neighbours factored in again, slipping a nice pass from the right side of the crease for a back-door tap in by Pavel Buchnevich.

The first period was a mixed bag. Of course you have the lead and the Blues settled down to only allow seven shots against. However, they allowed 21 attempts at their net and had nine defensive-zone turnovers.

The Blues should have been up 3-0 around four minutes into the second. Brayden Schenn scored, but the refs bailed Vancouver out with a lame crosschecking call on Neighbours on the back side.

The rest of the second period belonged to Vancouver. The Blues only had five shots in the entire period and had to weather another storm. Joel Hofer played well, turning aside all 10 shots in that period and preserving the 2-0 lead.

That only lasted a minute into the third. The Canucks cashed in on a rebound to Hofer's left and it was 2-1.

Fortunately, the Blues responded quickly. A fantastic pass from the right side of the goal line found Alexey Toropchenko in front for a 3-1 lead.

For as well as Hofer played to that point, he cost the Blues a goal after that. With Vancouver on the power play, Hofer got turned around on the side of the net in an ill-advised attempt to play the puck. A quick pass from behind found a man in the slot and Hofer could not react, so it was 3-2 with about 14 minutes left.

The Blues did try to get their offense going. They had a two-on-one in the final seven minutes, but failed to get a really good shot on before the defense got back.

St. Louis was playing with fire though. Hofer came up with a couple top notch glove saves.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. In the final minute, with the goalie pulled, the Canucks slammed one off the post and then chipped in the rebound to tie it 3-3.

Overtime was wide open. The Blues started things with a rush chance that saw Colton Parayko stopped and then an odd-man rush the other way ended with a Hofer save.

Then, the Blues sent the crowd home unhappy as Schenn got his just dessert after being robbed of a goal earlier. This time, he got the snipe from the left circle and St. Louis won 4-3.

Pro: Neighbours

We often get excited by any Blues prospect because there's nothing but potential. However, when the team kind of downplays things, you start wondering what you might have. That's kind of what happened with Jake Neighbours.

He seemed like he was destined to be a third line player who might score 10-15 goals in a year. Suddenly, we're wondering what his real ceiling is.

He has more than earned a spot on the second line and could easily slip into the top line when needed. He's already got 15 goals just past the halfway mark of 2023-24.

Neighbours just understands the game in a way guys his age often don't. He has the skill, but also the knowledge of where to be on the ice.

Con: Second period

On one hand, you can say the Blues didn't allow a goal in the second period. What was so bad?

Credit to Vancouver for having the push, but the Blues didn't do enough to stem the tide. Sorry, but not sorry, five shots is pathetic.

I was one that actually gave the Blues power play in the second period some credit. Despite failing to score on their four-minute double minor, they created some good chances that were either unluckily wide or blocked.

However, it's hard to argue that one shot in four minutes on the power play is not good. Five shots in 20 minutes is very bad.

10 shots against doesn't sound like a ton, but the Canucks were coming. The Blues were pretty fortunate in that period and then it started catching up to them in the third.

Pro: Hofer

He definitely had some shaky moments in this game, but for the second game in a row, the Blues won because of their goaltending. Hofer made the saves he should have and plenty he wasn't expected to.

Many fans, including myself, will focus on that mistake on the power play. There's no problem with trying to poke at the puck, but that is not the time to leave your crease and have your back to the biggest threats.

Other than that, Hofer was stellar in this game. He was under fire for almost the entire second and third periods and came up with a bunch of big glove saves.

None was bigger than the one in overtime. It was an odd-man rush that became a breakway and Hofer stoned the Canucks, which led to the Blues push the other way.

Overview:

It's disappointing this game even had to go into overtime, but the Canucks are far enough ahead in the standings that you don't care they got a point. The fact the Blues got two points is the only real takeaway from this game.

Of all the games on this road trip, this was the one the Blues could afford to not win. They're not catching Vancouver in the standings and, frankly, you don't want the Canucks to slide down that far as it creates too many teams to pass for a wild card.

The fact the Blues won is just icing on the cake. They need to start stringing together wins in bunches instead of evening out every win with a loss.

So, getting two huge wins in western Canada is definitely a gigantic plus for this team. They still need to continue this style of play and beat teams like Seattle since they're ahead of the Blues, but we can only focus on what has already happened as fans.

I don't like the last 30-35 minutes, with the lack of offensive pushback from St. Louis. It felt almost inevitable that the Canucks would tie it as the Blues were hanging on by a thread, even at 3-1.

Still, what I like is the mentality of this team recently. They still have a lot of issues, but they're doing a good job of not giving up.

This is much more like what we would consider "Blues hockey". Even when the team won the Stanley Cup, they were never the most talented on the ice, but they won with consistent effort and constant pressure.

We might not get the consistency and the constancy, but we are at least seeing effort and pressure now and it's fun to watch.