Bernie’s Blues Review: The Note Reestablishes Identity At Home, Head To The Road

Here’s your Blues Review of Thursday’s 5-2 dry-walling of the Los Angeles Kings at Enterprise Center:

PUCK DROP: The Blues made it two in a row, and closed out a four-game residency at Enterprise Center with an entertaining 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The performance was even more impressive considering that the Blues played most of the game without Vladimir Tarasenko, who left in the first period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. No. 91 did not return.

After slipping up during a four-game winless streak the Blues got back on track with consecutive home victories over Colorado and LA, outscoring the visitors 8-3 in the two games. The Blues are 5-2-3 on the season for 13 points.

BOX SCORE: The Blues were powerful on the power play, scoring three times on goals by defensemen Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo and center Brayden Schenn. Robert Thomas scored the Blues’ only traditional even-strength goal in this game, and Schenn added an empty netter to close it out.

But the Blues were utterly dominant in their control of this game when skating at 5-on-5. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Note had 62.5 percent of the scoring chances and 67% pof the high-danger chances when playing at 5-on-5.

THIRD STAR: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 33 of 35 shots and got his teammates fired up by stirring it up with Kings forward Kyle Clifford. Binnington skated into big Cliffy, gave him an intentional bump and appeared to be ready to do more than that until teammates Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist intervened. You can call this an example of the Blues’ team unity, or you can look at this as the latest episode of Binnington’s unique lunacy. I think it’s both. The Blues love their eccentric goaltender. And when Binnington goes off into one of his quick trips to Loony Town, it’s wonderful fun. And how about Binnington trying to score in the final minute by firing the puck from his goalmouth, taking aim at the empty net down the ice? He didn’t get much on it. But it’s the deranged thought that counts. Bless this man.

SECOND STARS: The line of Zach Sanford, Tyler Bozak and Robert Thomas was outstanding. In their 8 minutes and 40 seconds at 5-on-5, they conspired for a 70 percent Corsi rating, outshot the Kings 9-4, outscored the Kings 1–0, and had 11 scoring chances to LA’s four. Just a very strong all-around showing. Sanford got the message after being a healthy scratch in the previous game; he plowed into the Kings with a team-leading four hits.

FIRST STAR: Let’s go with Brayden Schenn, who has eight goals and three assists in the first 10 games. Last season Schenn didn’t net his eighth goal until Jan. 5, in the Blues’ 39th game. Through Thursday only David Pastrnak, James Neal and Alex Ovechkin have more goals than Schenn, who is tied with Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl for fourth place in the NHL. Six of Schenn’s eight goals are at even strength.

ZAMBONI: Kudos to the STL fourth line of Mackenzie MacEachern, Barbashev, and Sundqvist. The trio had a whopping 80 percent Corsi at 5-on-5 … and the defensive pairing of Pietrangelo and Parayko were in full command of the ice with a 65 Corsi nin 15:46 at even strength. And when matched up against the Kings top line, anchored by Anze Kopitar, Parayko and Petro had a superb 70% Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 …Parayko had two assists against the Kings; he’s assisted four times in the last three games … Pietrangelo already has four goals this season. Last season Petro got his fourth goal on Nov. 23.

HOLY JUMPIN’: The Blues’ PP, which has caused quite a bit of heartburn in recent years, is ranks 7th overall with a success rate of 25.8 percent. They’re 11th in penalty killing at 83.3 percent … the Kings won more faceoffs in this one (51%) but the Blues’ faceoff rate for the season (53.2%) ranks fourth in the league.

QUOTEBOOK: “Any time you lose a player, it sucks, and a player like Vladi, it’s even worse,” Robert Thomas said. “I thought we came together nicely and picked up for him when he was gone. Hopefully he’s back soon. I think as a forward group, we responded really well. We know our formula now to win. We know what it takes for us. We’ve got to play strong together and when we do that, it looks really good.

“When we try and be individuals, it doesn’t look good at all. Just before that Colorado game, we had a meeting and we just kind of talked about that and snapping back into what makes us successful. We did that the last two games.”

NEXT UP: The Blues hit the road this weekend with games at Boston on Saturday (6 p.m.) and Detroit (4 p.m.) This begins a stretch in which the Blues will play seven of their next 10 games away from home.

Have a pleasant weekend … and thanks for reading.

–Bernie