I got roasted for this last night during post game but this is actually where the Blues thrive in the postseason, facing elimination. Down 3-2 in a series is familiar territory for St. Louis and the resiliency of this team, hopefully, will show up on Friday night. But for now, let’s look at what went wrong last night.
DIDN’T GET THE SAVES
One of the biggest difference in this series has been the hot goaltenders at the right time. In Games 1 & 2, Binnington struggled with stopping the puck at crucial moments for the Blues when Markstrom was lights out. That flipped in Games 3 & 4 and once again in Game 5. Allen was solid in the 1st and 3rd periods but the 2nd was when things unraveled allowing a couple pucks to sneak through the pads or arms and into the net. Timely saves and confidence in the goaltender result in offensive pressure and unfortunately for the Blues, they didn’t get that for a full 60 minutes last night.
THE FOOT SLIPPED OFF THE GAS
Brayden Schenn said it after last night’s loss, “we just fell asleep for 10-15 minutes of that (2nd) period”. The difference in last night’s game compared to the two victories for St. Louis was the ability to weather the storm from Vancouver and ram it down the Canucks throat with offense. Once the momentum shifted towards Vancouver in the 2nd the Blues were never able to regain their form of forechecking hard in the offense and get to their cycle game. Inability to transition the puck from their own zone hurt the team when they needed to turn on the jets. As Craig Berube said, “we couldn’t get out of our own way”.
DIDN’T CAPITALIZE WHEN THEY COULD
Taking advantage of opportune moments to put the Canucks away hit this team hard in the 2nd period. Let’s say after Zach Sanford scores to make it 3-1 that the Blues continue their push and de la Rose’s shot with an open net goes in. Perron’s or Thomas’ shot goes in and the Blues push the face of their opponents deeper into the ground, then you’re talking about a 3-2 series lead and not a deficit. Markstrom made the big saves when the Cancuks needed him too and that resulted in all the momentum sucked away from the Blues and allowed Vancouver to just bust through the door.
FORECHECK/PUCK POSSESSION DISAPPEARED
This coincides with the foot coming off of the gas but there was never a consistent forecheck from the Blues once Vancouver took the lead. They had their chances in spurts but it was a lot of “one and dones” from St. Louis which made things easy on Markstrom. A total of 42 hits in the game for the Blues but did it really feel that way? The physical aspect of the game changed for the Blues in terms of less finishing checks in the offensive zone and creating turnovers to playing more “catch-up” hockey. Numerous players have stated that “catch-up” hockey is exhausting and when a 2-goal lead is blown, that makes things even more exhausting.
I got roasted for this last night on post game but I will stand by this, sometimes puck luck can win or lose a series. In the 2nd round last year if that puck doesn’t hit Bouwmeester’s stick the right way in double-overtime, then we are talking about a Stars-Sharks Conference Finals. If the puck doesn’t bounce off the linesman last night then you aren’t talking about a Tyler Motte breakaway to take the lead. Puck luck doesn’t lose a team’s hockey game but it can affect the outcome. This coincides with being the hardest working team on the ice, as Craig Berube says, and last night the puck was bouncing in favor of Vanocuver. The Blues can overcome that but they have to get back to their style in Game 6.
AP Photo/John Minchillo