St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 66 Vs LA Kings

St Louis Blues
St Louis Blues / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

The St. Louis Blues returned home after a mediocre road trip. The Blues finished it with a rather impressive 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins, but there were a lot of bad performances too.

As they welcomed the Los Angeles Kings to town, the game began early to facilitate a double-header on TNT. Frankly, it doesn't matter when the game starts any more since the Blues don't ever show up to start the game.

As usual, the Blues got outshot and outworked for the first half of the first period. There were at least two shifts where it looked like St. Louis was shorthanded since the Kings kept it in the zone so long.

Nevertheless, also as usual, Jordan Binnington kept them in it with some solid, early saves. The Blues utilized a penalty kill to give them some momentum and they played better the second half of the period.

Even so, the Blues got outshot 14-9 but also managed to get the goal, similar to how things went in Boston. It was a wrist shot from Alexey Toropchenko from near the blue line that Cam Talbot weakly let under the blocker. The Blues were fortunate, but they will take it given the circumstances.

Things started off much better in the second period. The Blues were entering the zone while keeping possession and creating some chances. They even forced a Kings dump just to get a change.

The Blues doubled their lead around two-minutes in. A pass from the right found a stretched out Jake Neighbours who just tapped it past the goaltender and gained a 2-0 lead with his 21st of the season.

The Blues were alright for a bit after the goal, but then the Kings took over for a long stretch. Although the overall shots for the second period ended 14 apiece, LA had the better chances.

Binnington had to keep out some quality looks, with at least four or five coming from just outside the crease in the second alone. His biggest save of the period was a great, sprawling glove stop where he steered a point blank shot over the goal.

The third period was kind of odd. The Blues got an early power play that was negated 23 seconds in by a Pavel Buchnevich tripping call that look like both players just ran into one another.

Regardless, it was four on four for 1:37 and then a short Kings power play. St. Louis looked good at 4v4 and killed of the brief PP and then increased their lead.

After a few more minutes, the Blues seemed to have been watching the intermission report talking about deflection angles. Brandon Saad was set up about two or three feet outside the crease and Colton Parayko found him for a great redirect from a tough angle to make it 3-0.

After the commercial break, Binnington channeled his inner Hasek. He stopped a back door play with a huge stretch and then pulled a double-pad stack on the look from in front.

Unfortunately, the shutout wouldn't last. Drew Doughty threaded the needle on a pass from the right cricle and Adrian Kempe scored on his own rebound after Binnington initially made a great pad save. It was 3-1 with 6:52 left.

The Kings pulled the goalie with about 3:30 left. St. Louis never really had a good look at the empty net. Binnington could have gone for a shot, but backhanded it to the near corner and then the Blues missed the net by about three feet and they didn't call icing for an unknown reason.

The game ended 3-1. The Blues won their second in a row, giving them a small glimmer of hope.

Con: First period

The Blues were up 1-0 when the first 20 minutes had elapsed. However, it's the same old story.

St. Louis just doesn't hit the ground running, so to speak. They're almost always sluggish in the first five to 10 minutes, they can't get shots on goal and barely even get into the zone.

Their decision making at the start of games, this one particularly, is disturbing too. Mostly we've seen poor passes lead to turnovers near the blue line, but in this game they decided to enter the zone and stop.

Three times in the first 10 minutes, once with Jordan Kyrou, another with Buchnevich and a final one with Kevin Hayes, St. Louis entered the zone on the near wing and just stopped near the wall. Clearly the idea was the defense keeps dropping off towards the goal line and there would be space. Instead, the Kings converged on the puck carrier each time and sprang a counter attack.

I understand the theory, but when teams clearly know that's what you're going to do, don't do it. It shows laziness to not want to get the puck deep and work to get it back.

I guess you can't fault the offense quite as much as usual with nine shots, but it there wasn't a lot of sustained pressure, like normal.

Pro: Taking advantage

One thing the Blues have not done effectively enough this season is take advantage of things. If a team has a certain hole on the night, you exploit it. The Blues did that in this game.

Cam Talbot is a good goalie with 237 wins to his name. However, despite some decent saves here or there, he was off in this game. The Blues capitalized on that.

St. Louis didn't have a ton of sustained pressure. Even though they had 30 shots, which is far above what we've come to expect recently, they weren't just peppering the net.

Still, they found some holes. As a goalie, I fully understand what Henrik Lundqvist was saying in the intermission, but the Blues first goal had no business going in. Looking for a defelection or not, Talbot should've had that, but the Blues still took advantage of the opportunity by actually getting the puck on net after a turnover in the offensive zone.

Similarly, Talbot's lack of reaction to Saad's goal was strange too. It's an odd play overall, including a fantastic redirect from a tough angle, but it just didn't seem like a play that you'd score on most nights. Nevertheless, the Blues capitalized.

Pro: Binnington

In a game you win 3-1 and were ahead 3-0, you wouldn't think you had relied on your goalie all night. This is the 2023-24 St. Louis Blues we're talking about though.

As with I'd say 90% of their wins this season, they don't win without Binnington. The amount of chances the Kings had right around the crease was worrying.

Yet, why worry when your goalie is on his game. Binnington was doing everything.

You had your typical, back-door stopping glove saves, which have become yawn inducing with the regularity that Binner makes them. Then, while he's not the most athletic goalie you'll ever see, he showed some inner Dominator by flasing every body part at the puck from the goal line.

Binnington deserved the shutout, but the Kings earned their one goal. Even then, it took a rebound off a big save to get it.

The Blues only take the lead because Binnington kept the Kings off the board and they hold the game because he was solid until the end.


A win is a win is a win. The Blues played well enough to win, but it might be a stretch to say they deserved to win.

The Kings had more sustained pressure, more shots and just felt more dangerous. The Blues won because they had the better goalie and got some timely/lucky goals.

At this point of the season, you'll take that. Just like goals, when it comes to wins, you can't ask how but how many. The Blues need W's, not style points.

It would be more comforting if you actually felt St. Louis was the better team on any given night, but two points is the main objective. They have four points in their last two games.

The road trip stunk, even if they went 2-3. To finish with a win in Boston and get a win over a Kings team trying to hold onto their spot as a divisional playoff team instead of the wild card is big.

The frustrating thing is you can see individual performances improve. Colton Parayko and Nick Leddy looked good.

For whatever reason, Torey Krug doesn't seem lost when he plays with Matthew Kessel. The top line looked decent, though still defensively questionable. The third line continued their run of form from Boston.

Yet, as a team, it's just absent sometimes. What is this team doing mentally in those first 10 minutes? Why is it such a struggle to where they look like they don't even care to look like a professional team?

I hope the doubters are watching these performances by Binnington closely. Plenty of fans that think draft picks are so great would rather this be the outcome, but the Blues would be a lottery team if not for Binner.

Take the win, move on to the next and hope you're not wearing out your goaltenders at this point.