I hate to say this but what happened for the Blues last night seems like a common occurrence this season in the NHL, series splits. It’s going to be difficult for teams to pick up the sweep when the losing team has time to sit, and prep, for the exact same opponent a couple nights later. That didn’t steal the show last night unlike the defensive play that stuck out like a sore thumb. Let’s get to it:
The Sloppy Play Has to Stop
Just in case it hasn’t sunk in yet, the Blues have taken 21 PENALTIES in their first four games. Makes a lot of sense, now, why Craig Berube was so ticked off last night at the team’s sloppy play on the ice. Last night they earned themselves 5 power plays but only earned themselves a little north of 2:00 with the extra man. This team cannot move forward by continuing to allow special teams to dictate a game. The Blues are at their best in 5v5 play and nights like last night, you only have your 3rd line see the ice for 11+ minutes (Robert Thomas). If these teams want to get out of this .500 play they have to skate with the opposition and not let their sticks get in the way.
Jordan Binnington has Saved the Day in Nearly Every Game
I thoroughly enjoy the people who see Binnington’s .913 save percentage this season and believe that he is not good enough. Goaltending has been everything for the Blues to this point. Yes, he has been pulled from one game already but he was the lone reason that the Blues went into that 2nd period against Colorado in a 0-0 game. Here’s something that is eye-popping for Binnington this season, in the 1st period he has stopped 35-36 even strength shots. Meaning he has allowed 1 even-strength goal in the 1st period of the 1st 4 games. And in the 3rd period he’s stopped 38 of 39 even-strength shots.
The Penalty-Kill Fixed its Issues, it Seems
Oskar Sundqvist said it perfectly during his pregame media session on Wednesday, “if we tighten up the neutral zone, we will have more success with our play”. Well, they did. 7-for-7 last night (which is way too many penalties to begin with) but on those PKs, they allowed 9 total shots (and 3 of those came on one PP). The PK took a step in the right direction and that will benefit this team when things get back to normal hockey and penalties aren’t thrown around. A strong PK allows the Blues to play their style and put the opposition on their heels.
The Best Forward Line of the Night
This should be no surprise to anyone but Jordan Kyrou shined again last night. In a game where there wasn’t a whole bunch of even-strength offense, the line that shined was Schwartz, Schenn and Kyrou. The lone goal came from that line with Kyrou creating offense (once again) with his speed through the neutral zone and the puck being loose for Schenn to rifle home. I love everything about this line because of the work ethic from Schwartz, the space that Schenn takes up on the ice and the speed/skill of Jordan Kyrou. These factors present the Blues with depth scoring which is going to be critical down the stretch of this 56-game schedule.
Need More From the Top Players
Plain and simple, the Blues need more from their top players. 0 goals for O’Reilly & Perron while sitting at a -3. That’s not good. Berube, after the loss, called out his players saying, “there are some guys that just aren’t skating.” Now, I don’t believe that’s O’Reilly’s fault, it is more the struggles of the team not taking penalties to keep it 5v5. But, it is noticeable when Berube is putting different players on multiple lines trying to find some chemistry. I think the offensive struggles lately put some pressure on Perron, O’Reilly, Sanford, Thomas and Hoffman on offense.