St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 52 At Toronto

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues came into their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on a rather impressive streak. They had won seven of their last eight overall and five straight on the road.

Unfortunately, we got the stereotypical slow Blues start in Toronto. It was a pretty disastrous first period.

The Blues only had four shots in the entire period. They didn't get their second shot of the game until the period was over 12 minutes old.

Meanwhile, the Leafs capitalized on some mediocre chances of their own. Jordan Binnington shut down their best looks, but the Leafs got two goals.

The first one was a little weak. Toronto just drove the net and somehow slid one underneath Binnington, who looked perplexed about the whole thing.

The Leafs got a second one following a Blues turnover in the offensive zone. After St. Louis failed to clear their own zone, William Nylander slid a pass that was intended to go across the top of the crease, but went off the stick of Matthew Kessel and into the net for a 2-0 Toronto lead.

The Blues came out a little better in the second period, but not a ton. They still only had two additional shots halfway through the second, even with a power play.

Nevertheless, the Blues cut the lead in half. After some winning a puck battle, Nathan Walker fired a shot from the right wall and Alexey Toropchenko got the deflection to make it 2-1.

St. Louis started getting a few more shots, but continued to outwait themselves and really amounted to nothing. Meanwhile, Binnington had to make several more key saves, including another breakaway punch with the blocker and a huge glove stop on the Leafs power play late in the period.

St. Louis continued their futility into the third period, again having only one shot midway through the frame. Meanwhile, Toronto re-doubled their lead with a goal from a tough angle.

Binnington seemed to be leaning too much toward the post, trying to take away the high short side with his mask. That exposed the far post and the Leafs shot a laser that slipped in to make it 3-1.

Toronto should have had more just after that. However, Binnington made a great save on a back door play with just about six minutes left.

None of that mattered. The Blues pulled the goalie with 2:20 left and Bobby McMann got his hat trick with a bankshot off the wall and the Leafs took it 4-1.

Con: First period

Sometimes a slow start can be attributed to the opponent playing well. This was not the case against Toronto.

Nothing against the Leafs, but they weren't setting the world on fire. The Blues just did nothing.

As mentioned, they had one shot until about eight minutes were left in the period. They only had four total and none of those really tested the goaltender.

Additionally, the Blues couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. They did create some looks, but everything was missing high or wide or both. The offense was just a mess.

The defense was put in bad spots because of way too much passing. The Blues passed and passed and passed and when it got picked off, they were in trouble.

Despite the opening goal being one he would probably like back, Binnington was pretty good. He stopped a big breakaway and a couple other rushes to keep his team in the game, but there was no help for him in the first 20.

Pro: Fourth line

Obviously when you score the lone goal through 40 minutes and you're on the fourth line, you're having a decent night. It wasn't just about that though.

The trio of Oskar Sundqvist, Walker and Toropchenko were just creating havoc all around. Beyond just the goal, they were the only line that was bringing consistent energy.

There was physicality, getting involved in board battles and just high energy. It was indicative of how little the other guys were bringing on a consistent basis, but it was nice to see from someone.

Pro/Con: Binnington

When it comes to goaltenders, having played the position (at a very low level), I do my best to be fair. Sadly, I might be one of the few fans out there that actually is fair.

That being said, Binnington was the only reason this game was even remotely close. I lost track, but I remember at least four huge saves and maybe more.

He stopped at least two breakaways, including one while the Blues were on the power play. He made that big save late in the game, keeping it a two-goal difference even if that ultimately didn't matter.

This game probably should have been 6 or 7-1 if not for the Blues goaltender. Yet, that's where the fairness comes in.

Taking things as they were, it shouldn't have been 4-1. The goals were not the worst we've ever seen, but Binnington could have done better on the first and third one.

I still don't really know how the first one went in. Nevertheless, it just felt like he should have had it sealed.

While the third one was a well placed shot, Binnington was cheating. I'm not sure how you do take away the entirety of the short side when guys are starting to bank it off the mask, but he just exposed too much of the far side.


I could have gone into other cons, but it's better to just go into the overall view of the game. This was just a stinker for the Blues.

Coming off the heels of some solid wins, you don't mind the fact they lost, but it's how. St. Louis had a season low for shots on goal.

Three shots in the first (amended by league statisticians) and four in the third is just not going to get the job done. When the game is on the line, you have to find a way to force the issue.

Jamie Rivers kept giving the Leafs credit and, as a broadcaster myself, I get it. You're trying to get a certain spin on things without being too negative for the team you're employed by.

However, I just didn't see it. Toronto played a solid game, especially since they were missing three key pieces, but it didn't feel like the Leafs were the main cause of the Blues not getting anything done.

We saw a reversion to the pass-first and pass too much style of play. In the first period, Jordan Kyrou never even looked at the net, making it way too easy for the defender to take away the pass.

Robert Thomas had the puck with a clear lane in the slot. Instead of shooting, he tried to force a pass that got picked off. Those were just the ones I could remember.

It was nice to see Kessel get his first NHL point. It was good to see the fourth line play hard and well.

The other guys weren't terrible, but they weren't there for over half the game. You'd get a good shift here or there and then it was like ghosts were on the ice. You kind of saw them out there, but not really.

Edmonton is up next and I've already seen and heard the projections about how the Blues will be crushed by their mighty offense just because St. Louis had a poor game in Toronto. St. Louis often plays up to their competition, so as long as there's better effort, I don't see anything from this game carrying forward.

Time will tell. It's just that we don't mind losses occasionally, but we do when there was never even a chance to win given the lack of consistency.