St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 72 Vs Vegas

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues faced one of their most important games of the 2023-24 season as they faced the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas came in with a four-point standings advantage, so it was a must win scenario for the Blues in a potential four-point swing.

The urgency was apparent for both teams pretty early. Although the shot totals weren't all that high for much of the period, there was still energy, physicality and a general testiness.

Unfortunately, things didn't really go the Blues way early on. Almost six minutes in, the Knights scored first. Nathan Walker blew a tire near the wall, which allowed Vegas to drive the net from the goal line and stuff it in for a 1-0 lead.

The referees missed, or chose not to call, a penalty on the Knights shortly after. A Vegas player was missing his helmet and still attempted to play the puck, which is against the rules. You're supposed to pick up the helmet or go to the bench.

The physicality picked up as Brandon Saad took a big hit under the chin. Brayden Schenn stepped up and fought, and won, but picked up the extra minor penalty. Fortunately, the Blues killed off the power play.

Vegas nearly doubled the lead with a minute left in the period. They had a partial two-on-one, but Walker got back just enough to disrupt things.

The first five minutes of the second period featured rush plays and odd-man plays. Vegas was denied with a great Jordan Binnington save off the bottom of the glove and then the Blues couldn't connect as Saad's pass to Schenn fluttered and went just over the captain's stick.

Things didn't get much better for St. Louis. Although they got Saad back after a head injury scare in the first period, Oskar Sundqvist went to the locker room with a lower body injury. Brayden McNabb was the cause of both, though neither hit was dirty.

Nick Leddy nearly scored on a shorthanded breakaway with under five to go in the second. He seemed to be partially hooked, but still forced a decent save and the Blues remained short.

The game remained 1-0 into the second intermission. The Blues had actually played pretty well, but they were out chanced almost two to one and the Knights had almost 50 attempts towards goal and the Blues had 28 attempts with 16 shots. They needed a top notch third period.

Binnington kept the Blues alive early. Jack Eichel found himself alone in front after a toe-drag around the defender, but his shot went off Binner's glove cuff.

St. Louis had a breakaway with Kevin Hayes, but came up empty. Torey Krug had a glorious chance too, but it barely glanced off the goalie and then the crossbar. Schenn hit the post as well about eight minutes in.

The Blues kept the pressure up, but kept coming up empty. Schenn had a fantastic redirect from in front, but the Knights' goalie made his 27th stop there. Binnington then kept the Blues in it with a breakaway stop on Anthony Mantha.

Just when it seemed like hope might be dwindling, the Blues finally got their just rewards. Kyrou broke into the zone, found Schenn on the right and a cross-ice pass found Saad for the tying goal just off the glove.

St. Louis poured on the pressure, even if they didn't hit the net each time. Nevertheless, the game went to overtime, which was one of the worst outcomes possible.

In OT, Pavel Buchnevich split the defense and drove the net getting hauled down and earning a penalty shot. He came in with speed and then ripped a shot from the hashmarks, only to get denied by a glove save.

That proved to be costly as the Knights won it on the next rush down the ice. St. Louis got two players caught below the goal line and then Jonathan Marchessault ripped one past the glove and Vegas won 2-1.

Pro: Saad

Clearly getting the only goal of the game, Saad is going to get the positive note. It wasn't just the goal either.

Saad has been on a great run of form lately. He's playing hard and showing leadership by example.

Frankly, I thought he was done when he took that hit on the chin and then never came back in the first period. Fortunately, it was just a matter of clearing protocol (assumption, never verified).

But, he suffered no ill effects from the hit that we could tell the rest of the game. In addition to the goal, he was creating a lot, hitting passes and taking shot attempts too.

I still make the case that Saad would be a third line player if the Blues were a true contender, but he's showing that he is not as diminished as anyone might think. He can still play a top nine role and not feel out of place at all.

Con: Missed chances

At least two posts and a crossbar are never a good indicator that things will go your way in a game. Sometimes those things don't haunt you, but it did with the Blues.

Credit to Logan Thompson for outdueling Binnington, which is no easy task. He managed to get himself into position to make the saves he needed to get his team the win.

Although he made some fantastic stops, the Blues just missed on some too. In addition to the iron, St. Louis came up on the short end because of unfortunate bounces.

The one that springs to mind was that two-on-one where the puck fluttered to Schenn. If that pass gets through 100% clean, I think the captain buries it and we don't have to wait until late to tie it.

This was a well played game by both teams, but the Blues are going to be seeing some of those in their nightmares.

Pro/Con: Defensive structure

The Blues are never going to be the cleanest defensive team in the league with their current roster. The individual players have talent and aren't as bad as they've been with the Blues, but for whatever reason, it just has not clicked on the blue line.

In this game, they got the job done - until they didn't. It wasn't a defensive clinic, but things were done to help their goalie.

If and when there were breakdowns, guys got back. You're going to give up rushes no matter what, but there were no easy plays.

One of the highlights of that was Walker's backcheck breaking up a backdoor play. Walker never even got a piece of the puck, but his presence threw things off.

Even whipping boys like Krug, Parayko and Leddy were around the goal, helping to sweep away pucks or keep guys at bay long enough for Binner to make the cover. It was a solid effort.

However, while I'm not going to name names as far as the play, there is no doubt that it's not a good look to have two guys below the goal line on the game winning goal. If the puck was loose, that's one thing, but it was in possession.

There's little need for two guys to go after the puck carrier. The result was almost a foregone conclusion once the puck came free and Vegas had a man wide open.


This was a playoff atmosphere on the ice. Both teams were playing like their postseason lives depended on it and you could tell.

It sucks that the Blues came up short. The point keeps them somewhat alive, but now they are down by five points and Vegas still has a game in hand.

The Blues now have to root for Nashville when they play Vegas in a couple days. That's an odd position to be in, but St. Louis isn't catching the Predators anyway.

The final goal just causes problems. Fans are going to be quick to blame Kyrou for not charging at Marchessault, but that's garbage.

Kyrou does what he should. He's taking away the pass and leaving the shooter to the goalie.

It's just a no-win scenario because the Vegas man is too close to goal but also far enough away to be able to really pick his shooting spot. Once that puck came free, Vegas scoring was always the likely scenario because they had the numbers game no matter what Kyrou does in that situation.

The crap of it was the Blues played one of their better games in recent memory. The second period was not great and it took awhile to get the offense going in the first, but as far as an entire 60 minutes, the effort was there and they simply couldn't get the goals.

I don't know if this ends up keeping the Blues out of the playoffs or not. It's definitely a gut punch, but all they can do is win against Calgary on Thursday and keep reevaluating their situation after each game.

There were breakdowns, of course, but they were not as eggregious as we've seen all year. It was the kind of stuff you're going to see in any game and, unfortunately, the Blues paid for it twice.

If St. Louis had played all season like they did in this game, they would probably be where Nashville is now. Instead, they've been dealt a major blow and probably have to win out, which is unlikely.

We'll see how it all shakes out. I'm not disappointed in the play, but not happy that the Blues didn't get the extra point.