1. ALLEN WAS LOCKED IN (GOALTENDING IS READY)
This seems to be the common theme of my post-Blues game observations but this time it was Jake. The last time Allen saw the net from beginning to end was on March 11, nearly 5 months ago. From the drop of the puck though, Allen was locked into the game. Blues defensively didn’t allow much from DAL in the 1st (5 shots) but those 5 shots were quality scoring chances and Allen turned those away. That’s not an easy task for goalies who are not challenged enough in the 1st period to come up with big time saves but Allen did that in the 2nd and 3rd, allowing 1 goal on 27 total shots and leading the kill when down a man. It will be Binnington once the playoffs start but if they need Allen, both will be ready.
2. TARASENKO HAS LOOKED STRONG IN HIS GAMES
This one will be nice to hear for Blues fans, Vladdy looks ready. Well, as ready as a player who hasn’t in played in nearly a year can be. After the loss to Vegas, Berube said he wanted to see more from the “Schwarschenko line” and that’s what he got last night. 7 shots on goal, 11 shot attempts for the Blues but the part that really jumped off the page was #91’s game. He was heavy on the puck in the offensive zone and he wasn’t hesitating once he had the puck on his stick. It was shoot first, adjust later. I like seeing that from Vladdy. The speed was present and skill showed up all game. That move in OT were he stick-handled over a defenseman into the slot for a Grade-A shot. Tarsaenko is going to be a weapon for this team.
3. PENALTIES ARE GETTING OUT OF HAND
So I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know but there are two sides to this. One is the officiating. The amount of penalties being called in what is labeled as “the playoffs” should not be happening. Some are justified, at least in the Blues games, but others are about as soft of calls as I have seen. To be blowing the whistle 10 times in 40 minutes of play is ridiculous. It sucks the life and momentum out of a playoff game and has to be tightened up before Wednesday’s Game 1. Then there is the Blues. Way to many stick infractions by this team (Hooking, Tripping, Slashsing). Through 9 periods of play for St. Louis in Round-Robin action they had 17 penalties called against them, 10 of those were stick infractions. Argue them if you will but they cannot happen in the playoffs, especially taking on the #4 PP unit in the NHL during the regular season. The Blues best game is 5-5 and they need to keep it that way if they want to get past Vancouver in the 1st round.
4. STILL TO MANY “ONE AND DONE’S”
Another game with the Blues scoring one lone goal (two if it wasn’t for the offsides challenge) cannot be the norm for this team. Aggressiveness and offense are tied together for Berube’s squad and right now it seems a bit inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong, they are getting scoring chances which is a sight to see but most of the time they become “one-and-dones”. Into the zone, shot, then back-checking on defense. The Blues will get to their offense when they cycle the puck with shot after shot, wearing down the defense. Right now, the timing is just off still for the team.
5. THINGS GO QUIET IN THE 3RD
Finally, things change in the 3rd for the team. Talking with Jamie Rivers, fatigue seems to be setting in at the start of the 3rd period. Forecheck drops off, a lot of chasing the puck, more scoring chances for opposition and turnovers in the neutral zone has effected this team way to much. It’s no coincidence that all three games, their opponent has come-back in the 3rd period to decimate the Blues lead. Whether it is fatigue or the other team getting to a gear that they can’t, that is going to be the largest challenge for the Blues when they take on the youth and speed of Vancouver. The 3rd period.
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey