Spirited Effort Against San Jose
Play like you did last night against San Jose and you will win some games St. Louis Blues. Last night brought an impressive performance on the road, which though the road has been the lone bright spot for the Blues, last night saw a new and improved performance. Unfortunately, the ideal result didn’t follow as the Blues fell in OT, picking up one point but the game marked the sixth straight defeat.
The Blues allowed 44 shots, 42 of which Chris Mason kept out in an effort that surely deserved a better ending. Despite the fantastic effort by the Blues as a side, the third period still brought a story we have read far too many times this year.
The Blues led, 1-0, until with roughly seven minutes to play the Sharks notched the game at 1-1. How often have we seen the Blues let a lead slip away in the third period, specifically late in the third period? At least this time around, we can’t point at poor effort as the culprit. The Sharks’ offense is a potent one, and though they rattled off 44 shots, it’s impressive the Blues kept them scoreless as long as they did.
While I like a lot of the things I saw last night, especially Cam Janssen’s extremely long fight that saw him wave off a linesman, the play in OT left a lot to be desired. Under Any Murray, we saw a lot of defensive, tentative play late in game with a lead and especially in OT as if the shootout was the ultimate goal. This scheme never appeared for the Blues in regulation, but as soon as OT got started the Blues dropped back in their own end, allowing the Sharks to hem them in their own zone.
The Blues defenders, namely Erik Johnson, cycled back in their own end, deep behind the net, seemingly asking for trouble. The Sharks pounced and closed the off the blueline, preventing an easy outlet pass. In OT, there was no urgency to move the puck and definitely no clear rush to make the blueline and get the puck out of their own end. Maybe they were trying to set things up – maybe. But allowing San Jose to come in and have a great opportunity as you cycle things down low seems silly. The play in OT was the one aspect of last night’s game that clearly stuck out as an area that the Blues still need to work on.
All in all, even though the Blues dropped their sixth straight, I can’t complain about what I saw last night. Hard hitting, improved play by many such as Erik Johnson and Patrik Berglund using their body more and Chris Mason was solid in net. Sometimes, despite the hard work and gritty effort the result just doesn’t come, but one thing is clear: if the Blues continue to play games like this, they will win some hockey games. First opportunity comes tonight in Anaheim.