This season is off to the same feeling for fans that the Blues are dealing with right now, so-so. Saturday we were at an all-time high because the PK seemed to be fixed, as well as the dominance at 5v5 like this Blues team has done all season. Then, Sunday was the blast back to reality with a disheartening loss after the Blues took a 1-0 lead. They’re up, and then they’re down so let’s check out my “Ferrario Five” from this weekend for the Blues.
1. Jordan Kyrou Gets Better Every Single Game
Even after a Blues .500 record over the weekend against a Kings team that doesn’t impress anyone in the NHL, the one thing that I’m excited about is Jordan Kyrou. This kid seems to improve, by massive steps, every single game with his scoring ability and offensive touch to his line. Both Saturday and Sunday’s match-up, Kyrou was the centerpiece in Brayden Schenn goals by utilizing speed through the neutral zone that results in a goal. But it’s what Berube said about Kyrou, to me, before the game on Sunday, “he continues to impress with his defensive fortitude”. The harder he plays the opposition, the more space he creates in the offensive zone. This guy is quickly becoming a major weapon for the Blues.
2. Goaltending Is Not The Problem
I was peppered with messages after Sunday’s loss about Husso being terrible and this team doesn’t have the proper goal tending, I see this as the complete opposite. I’ll start with Binnington who is the reason this Blues team has 3 wins on the season. In high-danger scoring chances, he ranks as a top-10 goalie in the NHL right now. On top of that, the Blues hold a 93 save percentage at 5v5 (as a team) which is 13th best in the NHL. Binnington’s struggles have come on the PP but, frankly, the team’s issues have come on the PP. Then there’s Husso. As Joe Vitale put it with me in a post game, he was vanilla. I don’t think he was horrible, nor was he the reason the Blues lost to the Kings on Sunday. He made 13 saves in the first 15-minutes and did so admirably, containing multiple rebound attempts. It was the Blues defense that turned in two turnovers that resulted in goals. He had 2-3 goals that any goalie would prefer to have back but those mistakes should be wiped away with offense that the Blues just struggled to find.
3. Turnovers And Penalties Continue To Plague This Team
This was the glaring weakness of the Blues on Sunday night (specifically) but also in Saturday’s victory. Saturday’s win the Blues played a more structured style of Blues hockey that provided them their normal 5v5 dominance, which led to their victory. But that game was closer than many would prefer and that was due to penalties that swallowed their 2-goal lead in the 2nd period. Then on Sunday, the Blues start with the momentum and get the lead 15:00 into the 1st period. Not more than :60 later, they found themselves in a tie hockey game because of a penalty and it unraveled from there. The inability to clear the puck from their zone and lack of tape-to-tape passes is haunting this team in the first 6-games this season. Craig Berbue sees it, the players know it, it’s just a matter of getting it tightened up and quickly.
4. The Inconsistency Keeps Coming Up But I’M Not Concerned
Here’s the part that everyone is now going to like. The inconsistency in these 2nd games of the series have been brutal, but I’m not as concerned as others may be. Joe Vitale painted a perfect picture last night from the player’s perspective that shows the difficulty of this season. He said that a majority of these players feel as “inhuman” as possible this season by showing up to the rink then being told to go home (when in St. Louis) or go to their hotel rooms until the game. One player told Joe that “as soon as we start feeling more like humans, the season will make us feel more like hockey players.” By no means is that an excuse but I believe it takes a lot of the players to throw everything into one game and then have to withstand the other team’s “best” a night or two later. Take a look at these differences:
4-1 W / 3-4 PK / 35-27 Shots / 0-2 PP / 3 different scorers
5-4 W / 1-3 PK / 34-25 Shots / 0-3 PP / 4 different scorers
4-2 W / 4-5 PK / 30-23 Shots / 1-2 PP / 4 different scorers
0-8 L / 1-7 PK / 21-38 Shots / 0-4 PP /
1-2 SOL / 7-7 PK / 24-34 Shots / 0-5 PP / 1 goal scorer (Schenn)
3-6 L / 3-4 PK / 31-35 Shots / 0-2 PP / 2 different scorers (Schenn/ROR)
As you can tell, it’s night and day for a majority of this team in the 2nd game of the series and that is concerning. I believe that this is a new set of circumstances for these players that are already trying to build the chemistry at a fast pace. I think at the 10-12 game mark, we will have a much better idea of what this team truly is.
5. The “2nd” Game Of Series Will Be The “Drago” They Have To Take Down
Craig Berube said it during the post game last night, “it’s all about attitude and right now this team is trying to find the right attitude in the 2nd game of the series”. I think that passes the eye test for many people after watching that loss last night. This isn’t uncommon in the NHL right now though, especially in this West division for the Blues. 15 teams have swept at least one series this season but the part that sticks out, for me, is that only 2 teams have done that twice (PIT & VGK). What that tells me is a lot of teams are struggling with finding ways to defeat their opponent twice in their meetings which will be the challenge for the Blues. 23 games in the next 47 days and it starts with the heavy hitters on Tuesday, Vegas. If the Blues want to compete in this division and turn this ship around it will come with confidence after winning their first series on this road trip.