Perron Impresses in Return,
Special Teams Struggle
After one period, David Perron’s return couldn’t have been going any better. The Blues held a one goal lead courtesy of Perron’s quick hands which we haven’t seen in any NHL action since November 4th, 2010. Unfortunately, the positives for the Blues ended there as Chicago rose to the occasion and brushed aside a dismal specials teams effort by the Blues.
Bright side everyone, bright side. The positives…
1. David Perron returned, looked fantastic and netted a goal. He officially is credited with one shot (his goal), two blocks and a (-1) plus/minus rating. Still, we saw Perron play just over 19 minutes – a indication of just how healthy he is. It was clear there was some hesitation for Perron to jump into plays which is completely understandable given the time he has missed.
In case you missed Perron’s goal, you’ll find it below.
2. Chris Stewart buried a nice wrister to give the Blues a 2-1 lead in the second. To say Stewart has struggled would be a bit too kind, so let’s hope his recent goal gets him going.
Unfortunately, the positives end there. Bring on the negatives.
1. No one should be surprised to see special teams listed here. The Blues were horrific on special teams tonight. Besides allowing the Blackhawks to net two power play goals of their own, the Blues gifted a shorthanded goal which all but zapped all of the energy out of the building. The Blues power play rarely threatened and continued to look like a group of skaters all on their own page than an actual unit with a plan of attack.
This needs immediate addressing. With the offense struggling to light the lamp, when given the opportunity the Blues need to capitalize on their opportunities with the man advantage.
2. If you only caught the first 20 minutes, you would have thought the Blues turned in one of their best efforts of the year. Unfortunately, the final 40 minutes looked like a timid side that was afraid to throw their weight around.
Sure, the officiating did the Blues no favors (honestly, it was laughable and that’s me being objective) but that shouldn’t mean that the club should abandon what worked in the first. The Blues were getting underneath Chicago’s skin, disrupting the play and forcing the pace. It was working.
3. Converting on chances. This one could be included with the special teams section, but the Blues really need to start capitalizing on their chances. When the game was still in reach, Chris Stewart missed an empty net from roughly 10 feet. Yes, Brent Seabrook was partially blocked the net, but Stewart still had plenty of real estate to target. The result? A shot wide…which brings us to…
4. Shots on goal. Officially, the Blues had 25 shots on goal. They had dozens that were fired well wide of the goal that won’t be reflected in that total. Fans on Twitter joked about Brad Boyes being back in the lineup, and honestly, it was hard to fault them given the pure number of shots that failed, by some margin, to find the mark. It’s tough to score goals on shots that are a foot or more wide of the cage.
5. Attendance. Yes, attendance was an announced 19,150. However, a large portion of that was composed of Chicago fans. I have no complain with fans traveling to see their fans or St. Louis area fans seeing their team but for the Blackhawks to have that large of a showing reflects purely on the Blues base.
All in all, Perron’s positive return will be lost among a frustrating effort. We knew this team, and Brian Elliott, would come back to Earth but few could have guessed it would all come crashing down in one contest. The Blues are a much better side than we saw on Saturday night. Their ascent back into the playoff hunt isn’t a fluke and they are capable of hanging with the best teams in the league. Now they just need to show it, starting on Tuesday against Detroit.