St. Louis Blues 2022-23 Game 37 Pros/Cons vs. Minnesota
The St. Louis Blues knew they would face no easy task against their division rival, the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota was coming off a loss to the Dallas Stars where the Wild were up by more goals.
On the flip side, they had blue goals for this game. They could have taken four or five points out of a possible six in this home stand and won their last game in 2022.
Things opened up well for the Blues. Calle Rosen stayed red-hot, scoring his fifth of the season to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
As always seems to happen this season, it went south from there. Vladimir Tarasenko blocked a shot with the padded part of his glove, but he would not return to the game after the first intermission.
The Wild also tied the game with just over six minutes left in the opening period. Matt Dumba came unguarded into the high slot and ripped one past his glove hand.
The Blues didn’t look too bad in the first and won the shootout. It seemed as if the goal turned the tide.
If the tide hadn’t turned, it definitely did with the next one. Less than two minutes into the second period, the Wild took the lead.
Binnington was unable to knock the puck clean off the wall. He was then poke-checked and never quite got back into position on the ensuing push from Wild.
Binner made a proper putt save on the shot from the wall. However, he was a bit off in his positioning and Ryan Hartman beat him over the blocker for the 2-1 score.
The Blues got the crowd back in it when they tied it up at 5:01. Robert Bortuzzo, of all people, scored his first of the year to knock it past Marc-Andre Fleury for a 2-2 game.
It literally only lasted 12 seconds. On another rim around, Binnington stopped it behind the net and threw it directly to Hartman on the near side, giving the Wild forward an empty net to make it 3-2.
St. Louis never recovered. They had a paltry five shots on goal in the second period.
The Blues were credited with 14 shots in the third period, but it never really felt like they were threatening. They had a flurry here or a chance there, but in their own way they got more than Minnesota really stopped them.
St. Louis fell down by two 49 seconds into the third. A shot from the point was knocked down, but fell right to Jared Spurgeon in the slot who whistled home to make it 4-2.
The Blues made their usual futile attempt at a comeback by pulling the goalkeeper during a four-on-four attack. It never works, and of course Minnesota scored on the empty net for the 5-2 victory.
Cons: Power play
Just when you think things are turning around for the Blues special teams, they turn around and put up this performance. St. Louis was a terrible 0-4 on the power play during this game.
There are games when you don’t score on that many power plays, and that’s never good. The Blues couldn’t even threaten.
They didn’t get a shot on goal until their third attempt. I understand that teams only focus on defense and positioning while on the PK, but how can you go four plus minutes without a shot when you have the numerical advantage?
Regardless of what the naysayers say, losing Tarasenko hurt the power play. That just mixes things up even more, and the team is already looking for chemistry after losing Torey Krug.
You have to shoot the puck in the end. You don’t want blocked shots and you want clear opportunities, but the Blues passed far too much, even when they looked off the mark.
Advantages: The rose
Maybe I need to get into the habit of writing slightly negative pieces about players more often. The day I posted an article downplaying Rosen’s ability to deserve more minutes, he scores another goal.
The reality is that my article wasn’t a dig at Rosen, but more those willing to elevate a player who is simply on a hot streak. Regardless of whether this is sustainable or not, Rosen is definitely on a heater as they say.
He scored just when the Blues needed a jump as well. St. Louis was already starting to buzz a bit on the offensive end.
It almost looked like Rosen would come up empty. He smashed one off the post on the same shift.
Smartly, instead of backing off completely, Rosen jumped back into the offense when the Blues had an odd-man break after a turnover. Robert Thomas mostly fumbled the pass, leading to a less-than-stellar attempt for Rosen, but everyone counts.
There is no precedent for how many he can get. Every goal from here is a career high for Rosen. Let’s just appreciate the effort and willingness to get it online.
I don’t even know how to classify this from a goaltending perspective. You can’t blame Binnington from a purely shot-stopping standpoint, but he’s entirely to blame for this loss.
Binnington had little or no chance at either of the two legitimate goals that were scored. You wanted him to stop them, but both were clear looks from the center of the ice.
The problem, however, was that he was directly responsible for two goals. Binnington is normally one of the better puck-handling goalies in the league, but it wasn’t his night for that in this game.
The first game, maybe you let him slide. It was a tough game that just didn’t go his way, and then he wasn’t ready for the forecheck from Minnesota to get to him so quickly.
He initially saved, but was out of his normal position. The second goal given up in that way, the third overall, was a real backbreaker.
I really don’t know how he didn’t see Hartman standing there on the half wall. At first I was also confused by Binnington hitting the brakes and going back around the other side of the net. But after watching the replay, it wouldn’t be faster to circle around to the nearest side. Anyway, it was a really bad mistake.
If you take the two goals out of the equation, it ends up a 2-2 game. Instead, it drained all the momentum from the team and all the energy from a raucous building.
St. Louis didn’t have too bad of a game tonight, but they are slowly going back to their more lazy ways. They just don’t do the little things necessary to win consistently.
They could have had 31 shots, but there isn’t enough consistent quality to make those shots count. St. Louis missed the net 14 or more times.
Even Craig Berube was clearly frustrated by the lost nets in his post-game comments. There were at least two or three empty net looks, and St. Louis didn’t capitalize on them. They didn’t even force saves, which is why they’re so frustrating.
The Blues won an incredible number of faceoffs. They won 35 faceoffs and 71% of all draws, but it led to nothing.
When you win that many faceoffs, you should be able to generate legitimate pressure and wear your opponent down. The Blues continue to let Minnesota off the hook.
Speaking of letting go, while Fleury made some decent saves in the third period, the Blues needed to take advantage of him. His positioning was not good and he was very jerky and shaky, never looking comfortable. The Blues just didn’t do anything about it.
The team is also becoming too disjointed again. Forwards are caught too low defensively, which led to the two legitimate Wild goals.
It was a disappointing way to end 2022, but perhaps fitting in a way. While there were clear things that had they not happened the game would have been different, but this was also not a game that really felt like the Blues were going to win.
We can say this happened or that happened all we want. When you base your talent level on ifs and buts, your record is who you really are.
Right now, the Blues are a .500 team. They have the potential to be more than that, but until they actually show us they can be, we shouldn’t assume they’re better than a .500 team.
Hopefully 2023 will be better. Unfortunately, even as one of the more staunch and optimistic fans out there, I just don’t know that a 2019 turnaround is on the horizon.