There aren’t many ways to sugarcoat what the Blues went through last night in their loss. That was a game they lost because of their own faults. Now, that being said, that was a solid effort offensively for the Blues that they will have until they regain full health. Let’s take a dive.
Turnovers Continue To Plague This Team
Everyone will continue to talk about this area until it gets cleaned up. The problem is, will it? Turnovers in the defensive zone have been plentiful these last few games, but beyond that, it’s the slow decisions with the puck on their stick. This team’s success has come from fast plays out of the zone and into the offensive zone. The 2nd goal of the game last night wasn’t just Sanford turning the puck over. It was three separate opportunities to make the play up the wall and into the neutral zone. Instead the puck stays in the zone and a gassed team cannot escape. But as Berube pointed out on post game, you can be fast to point out the puck being turned over but it also comes down to defending the play. Just an overall “team breakdown” that seems to keep happening.
Loved The Fight From The Depth Players
I can’t focus on all the negatives from that game because I thought the offense showed a strong performance. 31 shots on goal is no joke in the NHL and 14 of those came in the 3rd period. At some point (and it hurts) you have to give credit to Quick for turning into a brick wall at the perfect time. But in a game where Berube asked his 3rd and 4th line to bring more to the table, they were noticeable all night. MacEachern had multiple scoring opportunities in a game that the 4th line was bringing the energy. Then, a 3rd line that created multiple scoring chances in the 3rd period. It resulted in a goose egg which is essentially a loss but for having 30% of your opening night roster in the IL, you have to be somewhat impressed.
More Bodies In Front Of The Net And Faster Decisions
Now, the problem with the offensive opportunities is they were “empty scoring chances”. Meaning the Blues would enter the zone, take a shot and then skate the other direction. There was no sustained offensive pressure in the 2nd and part of the 3rd period. The Blues posted 17 goals in 4 games in the previous week and that resulted from multiple lines cycling the puck and causing the defensive side for the opponents to be gassed. Right now, the Blues are too easy to defend, keep to the outside, and kill any momentum. That can be fixed with playing the heavier style Berube likes but also making those decisions faster. Joey talked about it on the broadcast that the Blues had plenty of “screen” chances on Quick but they didn’t make the decision fast enough. That comes from confidence which Berube says the team is lacking right now.
Binnington Was The Real “King”
I’ve said this so many times this season but Jordan Binnington should be discussed when he plays the way he did last night. Binnington took his 5th loss of the season but with the exception of two games, he has kept his team in every hockey game. A perfect example is last night’s 2nd period. Blues are down by a goal and take a penalty with the Kings buzzing in the offensive zone. LA doesn’t score but peppers 4 high-danger, scoring chances and Binnington kills them all. That is the best penalty-killer for the Blues and is the only weapon they have right now to spell a long losing streak during these injuries.
The Blues Are Officially In “Help” Mode
Another injury for the Blues that looks to be a long-term one. Sucks to lose a guy like Gunnarsson because he is one of those guys that leave it all out on the ice. He is what Jamie Rivers likes to call, a “vanilla ice cream”. You never know how good the vanilla is until you have a bad one and “Boom Boom” is Old Faithful for his team. The problem for the Blues is that they have run through the pantry that is their taxi squad. Walman and Mikkola are the only ones left while Nathan Walker and Dakota Joshua go through their quarantine period from being recalled from the AHL. We can talk about players stepping up all we want but we are at the point now where you have guys performing in roles that they couldn’t have been expected to perform in. A challenge, yes, but not an excuse. It will be tough for the Blues to keep their heads above water until reinforcements return. Hopefully, that is sooner rather than later.