St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 79 Vs Chicago

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Blues kept themselves mathematically alive after an unconvincing win against the Anaheim Ducks. Even so, it was win or be eliminated from playoff contention when they faced the Chicago Blackhawks for the final time.

St. Louis actually played like they knew this fact. I'm not sure I can remember such a hot start.

The Blues took a 4-0 lead on their first four shots. The Blackhawks had changed their goaltender before the game was even five minutes old.

It opened up with a Jordan Kyrou goal just over two minutes in. The Blues took a page out of the old Blackhawks book, using a long stretch pass to find Kyrou on a breakaway and then a snap shot just under the blocker made it 1-0.

42 seconds later, it was 2-0 after another Kyrou score. This time the Blues went tic-tac-toe, going zone to zone and Kyrou went under the blocker again, this time from the left circle.

The Blues picked up their third goal just under two minutes later. St. Louis worked it around the zone and then Torey Krug used a Chicago player as a screen and whipped one from the point over the blocker for the 3-0 score.

Just moments after Towel Man had celebrated the third, the Blues added another. More slick passing got the Blackhawks scrambling and St. Louis was able to find Zach Bolduc on the back door and it was 4-0.

St. Louis outshot Chicago 9-1 in the first period. It was a dominant first, but the Blues needed 60 minutes.

Things calmed down in the second period, at least offensively. There was a pickup in physicality as both teams got testy, especially after Brayden Schenn and Conner Bedard took big hits on seperate plays.

The Blackhawks charged out. They had an early power play that was a carryover from the first period.

Chicago hit the post and the crossbar. They ended up outshooting St. Louis 10-8 in the middle frame.

Nevertheless, Chicago's only goal was as much luck as it was effort. They did hit some good passes coming into the zone, but the backdoor play ended up going wide. Sadly, the puck went hard off the boards and Philipp Kurashev collected the puck and stuffed it in on the near post before Joel Hofer could recover. It ended 4-1 after 40 minutes.

For a game that was still somewhat in the balance, there wasn't a ton to speak of to start the third period. Both teams had looks, but it felt different than the first and second.

The Blues finally woke back up with another goal just over midway through. Robert Thomas picked up his 25th of the year when he popped in a Schenn rebound from the slot and it was 5-1.

Chicago brought it back to a three-goal game with about three minutes left. The Blues lost some defensive coverage through the neutral zone as Zach Dean got caught puck watching. Landon Slaggert snuck in behind and snapped one past the blocker to make it 5-2.

There was an old-school melee with 29 seconds left, but not a full on donnybrook. Nevertheless, it was a fun game when there haven't been enough of those kinds of nights for St. Louis this year.

Pro: Kyrou

This was the kind of game the Blues need from Jordan Kyrou for an entire season. Nobody is expecting him to perform like this for 82 games, but you need more games like this than not.

It wasn't just the goals that were impressive. Kyrou got back, skated with and disrupted a Bedard rush play in the second period.

Clearly, scoring the first two goals of the game was huge. The breakaway was nice, to be able to sneak in behind the defense as he went up the middle and then finish it. Then to use the scouting report to beat him blocker side again was well played.

Con: Power play

The power play has been a point of contention all season long. It has been much better since the coaching change. Who knows if that has anything to do with Drew Bannister or more the addition of Brad Richards as a consultant.

Regardless what you believe might be the answer there, the reality is the unit was not very good in this game. They were not as bad as we saw in the beginning of the year, but remained ineffective.

The Blues went 0-3 with the man advantage. In a vacuum, that's not horrendous, but they needed to do better.

On a night when you score four goals on four shots and made both goaltenders look silly at various points, you would think the power play could have got something going.

Pro: Bolduc

Similarly to Kyrou, Bolduc played a much better all-around game than anyone might have thought just a month ago. He's settling in as a professional and learning quickly.

Bolduc is never going to be a banger, but he seems to have picked up on Jake Neighbours' example pretty quickly. Bolduc is driving to the net and getting his nose dirty, even if he's not the kind of net-front presence that Neighbours has been.

The goal he scored was an example of that. He saw the way the play was developing and found a spot in behind the defense. The finish was clinical too as it was not at all easy to score from that angle, even with the goaltender still trying to recover.

Overview:

Every game is its own adventure. However, this performance makes it even more puzzling how the Blues could be so bad against bottom feeders prior to the last couple games.

The way the Blues won in Anaheim was disappointing, but they won and got the two points. They turn around and jump on Chicago in a way that we have not seen in 2023-24.

In other games this season, the Blues would have let in three in the first period and felt good about a 4-3 game. Maybe they choke away the entire thing too.

What is more, St. Louis didn't rely on Hofer alone. The Blues goalie did make some good saves, but he didn't have to be all world.

What was just as good as the win was to get it with certain guys out. Neighbours missed the game with an injury, as did Justin Faulk.

Other players stepped up to fill the voids and you really didn't even notice those guys weren't there.

It's still a very long shot that the Blues make the playoffs, but at least it's not completely over yet. Three more games and three more chances to get wins to see how it all shakes out.