Let’s get this out of the way first, that 3rd period stunk for St. Louis being outscored 3-0. Let’s remind everyone the cliché saying “it’s only the 1st game”. If history means anything then the first game in the Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final last year shows that this team still has plenty of time.
TOO MANY PENALTIES:
This will be the most obvious takeaway from last night’s loss. We have said this throughout the Return to Play when the Blues were taking penalty after penalty, stay out of the box. Especially VAN who finished 4th in the NHL, .1% behind the Blues in regular season. 3 PPG for the Canucks last night, two of them on their first shot. You can blame the officiating but last night it was stick infractions that plagued the Blues. Discipline is going to be the most important factor for the rest of this series if the Blues want to make their way back into the series.
LOVED THE PHYSICALITY:
Everyone has talked about one area that had not shown up through the Round Robin play, physicality. And the Blues provided. I expected Vancouver to come out and try and get under the Blues’ skin but at that moment, they retaliated against some of the pests on that roster. Faulk, Paryako, Schenn were not allowing Roussel to get anywhere near Binnginton. Brouwer led by example with a few extra whacks after whistles. Those elements can not be expressed how important they will be in a 7-game series. The monster may have woken up last night.
PLAY DISAPPEARED IN THE 3RD:
This has been the biggest issue in the Return to Play, the opposition finding their other gear while the Blues were unable to. The 1st and 2nd period, the Blues won the shot, hit, blocked shot and face-off battle. The 3rd period, Vancouver was the faster, more physical team that continued to hunt down pucks and stand-up the Blues in the neutral zone. The Blues lost their sustained pressure in the third period and Craig Beube said it after the game, “I don’t like the mistakes in the third period . They’re gimmies, in my opinion. They got to be better.”
TEAM WAS MISSING THEIR 4TH LINE:
This was apparent all game for the Blues, they were really missing their identity on the 4th line. Last season the line of Barbashev-Steen-Sundqvist averaged 12 minutes per game. Last night the 4th line of de la Rose-Brouwer-MacEachern played around 6:00. That puts more minutes and responsibility on the top-line players and fatigue sets in in the 3rd period. One player told me last season that the 4th line was their “sparkplug-energy” line and last night, they didn’t have that energy.
By no means am I saying that people should be concerned by Binnginton but he looked a bit off of his game last night in the 3rd period. Two shots that he would want back, without question. Two blocker side goals that are very uncommon for him. I mentioned to Joe Vitale that after Stecher’s goal, Binnington looked frustrated when it went in the net. That’s uncommon for him because Binnington has been unflappable in his career. I would bet that Binnington will respond strong after that loss, just like we saw from him last season.
AP Photo/Billy Hurst