Anyone having flashbacks to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final? The refs interfering in the outcome of another game? A last-second winner for Colorado left a Blues team frustrated last night but let’s look a little deeper into the first round-robin game of the year for St. Louis.
1. The referees are putting themselves into these games way too much. There have been a total of 10 games played since Saturday, either qualifying games or Round Robin, and a total of 82 penalties. Heck, the Carolina and New York Rangers game had 14 total penalties IN ONE GAME! That is not how playoff hockey is supposed to be played. Whistles being called on tacky tripping or hooking calls interrupts the flow of the game and really disrupts player’s rhythm. Officials need to swallow their whistles and let the intensity play out in games that these players are throwing everything into.
2.I know everyone is thinking the same thing, “that puck didn’t go over the line”. Here’s the situation, Toronto has 4k cameras that are zooming in on that goal line that we just cannot see. I think the goal was a good goal, the issue that the Blues fell into on that final powerplay was the inability to clear the puck. Again, the penalty should have never happened (see take 1) but the PK had the opportunity to clear the puck a couple times that COL kept in the zone. Missed opportunity that you hope doesn’t hurt the team once seeding takes place.
3.Jordan Binnington, Jordan Binnington, Jordan FREAKING Binnington. You worry if a goaltender can get his game back as fast as he has needed to. After 4 months of no hockey and then a training camp that didn’t look like he was at his peak, Binnington made a few of us nervous going into the playoffs. I know, does he look nervous? Hell no! Binnington was incredible last night making desperation saves, second and third chances on COL’s 16 shots in the 1st period. That’s what the Blues are going to need to win the Cup again, saves that the goalie is not supposed to make. Both goals were last minute chances for Jordan so nothing on him for those. Stopping 36 of 38 against that high-powered offense? I’d say he’s up to game-form.
4. The physicality showed up which is just what the doctor ordered for this team. The moment Sanford was boraded was when the monster woke up. Sanford stood up and threw a jab right into Landeskog’s mouth which set up the Blues for a physical battle. Round Robin games seem to be an area where team’s are dipping their toes into the water to see what it’s going to be like. Once Colorado showed their cards, the Blues unloaded. Blais and Barbashev had 7 hits last night, Schenn upped his physical play until the end. You even saw Alexander Steen chasing around players to lay a hit on them. Once you get that aspect of the game going, you hope the offense can open up.
5. Then there’s the offense, plain and simple is that it looked shaky again. Not a lot of consistent pressure for the Blues. There were spurts in each period that the Blues built momentum and pushed but overall, they never really made the Avalanche work to the point of exhaustion. But, I am slow to say this is a problem. When it comes down to it these guys are locked in a bubble trying to turn on the adrenaline and intensity on a dime, then turn it off for 3 days before they have to play again. I’m not making any excuses for their slow start, but it was expected by a team that hasn’t played in four months. Some teams can get to their game faster but St. Louis’ takes time and rhythm to grow. I think that will come once that first round of playoff action begins. When they finally can get into a rhythm.