St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 73 Vs Calgary

Mar 28, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug (47) celebrates with Jordan Binnington (50)
Mar 28, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug (47) celebrates with Jordan Binnington (50) / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues began their final 10 games of the 2023-24 season against the Calgary Flames. They were in must-win mode as the playoffs were slipping away following a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

As has been customary, it was not an offensive powerhouse opening to this game. In the first five minutes of the game, there were a total of two shots and that included a full two minutes on the power play. Both shots belonged to the Blues, but they weren't really even that much of a scoring chance.

Still, the Blues were playing reasonably well. Their main problem was turnovers. There was a horrendous turnover in their own slot which was stopped by a Jordan Binnington shoulder save.

Despite that, the Blues opened the scoring. Binnington had a great outlet pass to Zach Bolduc, who fed it to Alexey Toropchenko on the right wing. Torpo found Bolduc streaking back through the middle and the rookie snuck a backhander under the left pad as the goalie was coming across the crease.

Unfortunately, the Blues wouldn't finish the period strong. The turnovers bit them in the end. Justin Faulk got chased down from behind as he was coming around his own net. The Flames tied it on an incredible backhanded chip from Andrei Kuzmenko, close to the goal line, the same guy that picked Faulk's pocket.

Calgary would then take the lead late in the frame on a power play goal. Jonathan Huberdeau seemed to get a tip on a shot from the point, so it was a decent goal. The salt in the wound is that Calgary has the 30th ranked power play.

Things turned around in the second period. Just over three minutes in, Nathan Walker sparked the Blues by getting into a fight.

A mere eight seconds after he went into the box, Jake Neighbours scored to tie it. Colton Parayko took a long shot from the blue line and Neighbours was right there to bang in the rebound. As has been the case a lot lately, Neighbours got dumped to the ice as he was scoring, showing he's right in the mixer.

Nazem Kadri really opened the door for the Blues with a double-minor for high sticking. It looked like the entire four minutes would elapse with nothing to show for it, but St. Louis scored in the least power play type of way.

After losing the zone and getting an icing, the Blues won the faceoff. On the zone entry, they found Pavel Buchnevich on the left wing and he sniped one off the goalie's golve and in for a 3-2 lead. It should have been a save, but you take it.

The good fortune flipped back the other way late in the period. Kuzmenko got his second, this time deflecting a Kadri shot upward, which is pretty rare.

Things started just as crazily in the third period. It looked as though the Flames grabed the lead with a hat trick goal for Kuzmenko.

However, the play was blown dead for a high stick before he scored the goal. The replay showed it was very close, but since it was not on the scoring play, it could not be challenged.

Moments later, the Blues scored to take the lead. Brandon Saad scored on a wrister to make it 4-3.

On the very next shift, it looked like the Flames tied it. There was a scramble after a wraparound and they jammed it away from the grip of Binnington, who was without a stick. However, the puck had left the zone prior to that, so the Blues won the challenge for offside and it remained 4-3 and the period was not even three minutes old.

St. Louis started playing with fire, allowing the Flames to have too much of the game. It's not as though St. Louis was being a pushover, but the Flames looked more like the team playing for something.

It was almost a tie game with about eight minutes left. Calgary dinged one off the post.

It felt like things would take a turn for the worse as the Blues kept missing the empty net too. Fortunately, Buchnevich charged down the ice and scored on a missed shot from Krug near the goal line.

It would have been fun to see Binnington take the shot, but he picked up his second assist of the night. They won 5-3.

Pro: Saad

It's been a nice bounceback season for Brandon Saad. He's now got more points than all of 2022-23 and tied his most goals scored for the Blues since he's been here.

Saad has been extremely streaky this season. You'd like him to have been a little more consistent through the year, even if the numbers remained the same, but if you have to take the streakiness, you'd like him to get hot right now.

He's done just that. Saad now has three goals in all three games against Calgary. He also has goals in four straight games too.

He isn't scoring garbage goals either. Other than the Ottawa game, these have all been important goals and points in crunch time. His goal proved to be the game winner.

Con: Defense eye test

Similarly to the Vegas game, and a handful of games recently, I wouldn't single out any one or two guys for having a bad night on the blue line. Overall, the five-man unit played alright too.

Statistically, it was a decent night. Only 26 shots allowed, which is a good stat considering the Blues were allowing close to 40 earlier in the month.

Yet, it just didn't feel quite right. There's not a lot you can do about the Kuzmenko goals, but even though I don't lump myself in with the online crowd that wants to paint our defenders as pansies, there needs to be a little more physicality in front of the net.

Too many Flames players seemed to be getting position and the deflection without even being jostled. There's no way to quantify that, but it just didn't look or feel right. Thankfully, it didn't cost them in this one.

Pro: Neighbours

If we're going to cross that valley and get into genetic cloning, can we please clone this kid? He fits exactly what the Blues need and what Blues fans want.

He has some high-end skill, but he's just getting his goals through pure work ethic. He's not the biggest and, not yet, the strongest, but he wills his way into those hard areas.

Neighbours is almost always in front of the net when it counts. It could be a chicken and the egg deal where is he there because he knows when to be there or are the teammates shooting when they know he's there, but it doesn't matter.

What matters is the Blues have a legitimate net-front presence in this kid. The fact that he's been put on his rear after his last three goals or so, and keeps coming back is fantastic.


Even the announcers said what was in my head after this game. It wasn't always pretty, but the Blues got the job done.

When you basically have to win all 10 of your remaining games, it doesn't matter how you do it. In the words of Eddie Guerrero - lie, cheat and steal.

Get the W at the end of the contest. As long as you score more goals than your opponent, you're good.

Of course, that's all humerous hyperbole, but not as much as you might think. I'm to the point now where if the Blues needed to have some guys play in the vein of someone like Kadri, then so be it.

Were the Blues really the better team on this night? That's debatable.

St. Louis didn't play poorly and played well enough to win, but I wouldn't say they were actually better than Calgary for the entire game. They needed some timely saves and the Flames also hit at least two or three posts.

You need that kind of luck, but it also makes you a bit apprehensive. Nevertheless, it was a win and that's all the Blues needed.

I'd rather an ugly win than a pretty loss. Unfortunately, the Winnipeg Jets lost to Vegas 4-1, so nothing was really gained.