Welp, that wasn’t fun. I know, they mounted a comeback and made it interesting, but it shouldn’t have even gotten to that point. It was obvious from puck drop that one team had more of a will to win, Arizona. Some strong words from Craig Berube that we will, no doubt, dive into with my five takeaways from last night’s loss:
1. Jordan Binnington Is The Best Thing The Blues Have This Season
Look, I’m not telling you something you didn’t know already but I believe Binnington is more than what we are seeing this season. He finally provides the Blues with a legit #1 goaltenders, something they haven’t had since Grant Fuhr? This entire season, Binner has kept the Blues in games when they have been searching for their style. He has robbed goals, limited scoring chances and provided the momentum boost for the Blues. If not for #50, the Blues might be sitting in the same position as the Arizona Coyotes with 9 points on the year. Blues need to find their game, fast, to justify how good of a season Binnington is having.
2. This Power-Play Needs A Powerful Change
As Michael Scott has said, “my my my…how the turn tables”. Remember that 4-game win streak where the PP scored a goal a game? Those were the days. Blues went 0-4 last night, 0-9 in this series, and remains one of the bottom teams in the NHL on special teams. That cannot happen with as much talent as this team has on its roster. Last night was a perfect example of the 5v5 game not being there for St. Louis but the PP could have stolen the momentum and won the game for St. Louis. The last unit we saw Berube switch it up a bit with 47-18-25-10-17 on the ice. Hoffman needs to be apart of the the #1 unit with ice time and Justin Faulk deserves his shot as well. Patience is what the PP needed but we are over the 10 game threshold, now the Blues need results.
3. Mike Hoffman Has Finally Found His Spot
That’s a 4-game point streak and a game where Mike Hoffman busted through the front door for the Blues. 9 shots on goal for Hoffman and two goals to show for it. Now, those goals game with an empty net but it also was a result of new line mates with O’Reilly and Perron. This was something we all expected to start the season but it didn’t gel right for Craig Berube. Well, that same thing is happening with Hoffman and Thomas so a change was needed. The Blues have to get Thomas going but they also need Hoffman. He is the perfect match for that top line and is the perfect candidate to start breaking out of his shell in game action.
4. The Problem Of The 2nd Games In Series Is Not Resolved
We’ve all seen the comments by Craig Berube, “there are guys that aren’t giving it their all on the ice” and that is leading to these slow starts for the Blues. Look at the 2nd game of the series this season, the first game the Blues come out to a fast start and quick response with offense. Then, the second game there isn’t a hop in the step for the Blues (other than the Ducks series) and that is hurting this team. The struggles of the team is easily matched with the slow legs out of the gate for the Blues. Berube is going to need to find the right words to get these players ready for each game. Then again, I don’t think that falls on the coach. Instead that will fall on the individual players to bring their best every night. Otherwise, they will be sitting in the pressbox watching the action.
5. The 3rd & 4th Line Aren’t Providing Enough
Berube said that the win streak was a result from the ability to roll 4 consistent lines. Last night they did not have that. 20:00, combined, between Blais, Barbashev and Clifford which resulted in top players playing 20:00 minutes, individually. It narrows down the Blues game to two lines which is easily defended by the opposition. Some way, this team has to find a way to get Thomas, Sanford and Barbashev going. These are key pieces for the Blues and their success this season. Thomas hasn’t meshed with any line mates, so far. And Sanford seems to be off to another slow start this season. If these three players can find their game, this team becomes an all-around (offensively and defensively) force.