The St. Louis Blues came into their final game prior to the All-Star break riding a five-game win streak. That was their longest of the season.
Awaiting them was the Columbus Blue Jackets. Awaiting the fans was one of the most nondescript games in recent memory.
If you missed the first 40 minutes, you didn't miss a thing. That may seem like an overstatement, but it was not.
The Blues barely showed up in the first period. They had a grand total of four shots on goal and it was not pretty.
Their top line looked like they had lead skates. The power play literally could not enter the offensive zone.
The only thing that saved the Blues was the fact Columbus was only marginally better. The Blue Jackets had more jump and a little more possession, but they didn't create either, managing only seven first-period shots.
Things got worse, in a manner, in the second period. Nothing actually happened, but that was the problem.
There were only 10 shots in total, split evenly with each team having five apiece. For awhile, I literally zoned out and just kind of halfheartedly paid attention to the broadcast crew.
St. Louis had an abbreviated power play that did finally establish some brief zone time, but they still couldn't get a shot off. Columbus didn't do anything either, but they almost capitalized on the Blues mistakes.
It seemed like the Blue Jackets scored with about 1:45 left in the second. They snapped a shot from the right circle just past Binnington and the referee signaled goal. Upon review, it hit off the body of Binner, off the part of the post where the crossbar meets the post and directly out. It stayed 0-0 into the second intermission.
The game actually opened up in the third period. Both teams created some early speed and chances, forcing some good saves from both goaltenders.
The Blues best look came on what seemed like a partially open net. After a couple cracks at goal, the goalie was down and Jake Neighbours had the puck in tight. Unfortunately, he made a scorpion kick save on Neighbours ensuing shot.
Then, the Blues broke down defensively just over four minutes in. St. Louis didn't get back quickly enough on a partial odd-man rush and Dmitri Voronkov chipped in the cross-ice play for a 1-0 lead.
The Blues had a bit of a push as the third period went along. They only had four shots on goal through about the first eight minutes, but finished the period with 12.
However, there just wasn't enough sustained pressure. The game ended, mercifully, with a score of 1-0 in a losing effort.
If you're wondering where the pros and cons are, well why should I put in the effort to do that when neither team did? I'll just give my overall thoughts on the game.
The power play was horrific. I give the Blue Jackets a lot of credit for scouting whatever the Blues had been doing and completely shutting it down.
However, even when the Blues tried to simplify things, they kept screwing it up. Almost at the same moment Jamie Rivers said they need to just chip it in and go get it, they did and proceeded to not even get close to the puck.
You're not going to score every game and 0-3 isn't awful. It's the fact the power play literally could not even enter the zone.
I'm just confused as to where the offense was for either team. 11 total shots in the first and 10 in the second? I've seen kids games that were more eventful.
You could almost say the Blue Jackets had the better chances in the first and second, but even though he made some good saves, it didn't feel like Jordan Binnington had to do anything. Neither goalie did, so it was fortunate that no cheap goals snuck in.
The goal that won it seemed alright in the moment, but watching the replay, it boiled down to effort. People will blame Torey Krug, but he steps to the puck carrier and then gives a chop to the guy after.
Matthew Kessel tries to make a play and just got turned around. My issue with the whole thing came down to the forwards.
Jordan Kyrou actually did skate hard to get back...until the last minute. The pass came right as he was gliding and standing up straight. On top of that, the pass from Robert Thomas that led to the turnover was about as weak and unnecessary as I've seen in a long time.
What was disappointing is you could basically tell both teams had no intention of wanting to be there. The Blues were ready to get into the All-Star break and Columbus was ready to go home after a road trip.
That makes the Blues effort even worse because it was there for the taking if they weren't daydreaming about their 10-days off.
I understand overlooking the opponent to a degree, but you would hope they would go balls to the wall knowing they didn't have a game for quite some time. Instead, it went the other way and it seemed as though they had already mentally checked out.
For the first 40 minutes, only the fourth line hustled and the third line had some good shifts. Other than that, it was about as bland a game as you could imagine.
The funny thing is we've seen the Blues play far worse. It's just when you know they could have won if they even played half as hard as they did in Vancouver.
It's also disappointing to let the win streak go by the wayside and drop points to yet another team they have no business losing to.