The Blues are playing like a broken record. Fall behind by two goals, and try to claw their way back into the game. Someone should tell them it's easier to play with a lead. For the fourth straight game, the Blues trailed by two goals and put fans on the edge of their seats with a late game push to tie it up. The Blues played much better against the Kings than they did against the Thrashers, but the end result was the same. After opening the season with back to back wins against Detroit, the Blues have dropped consecutive games to teams they could have, and should have, beaten.
In the first period, the Blues put themselves behind the eight ball, taking three penalties. Los Angeles entered the game 5 for 12 on the power play, and on their first opportunity with the man advantage, LA's Ryan Smyth capitalized, collecting a rebound off the boards and flipping it over an outstretched left pad of Chris Mason for his fourth goal of the year. To Mason's credit, he stopped the first shot by Smyth, but was unable to stop the rebound. Smyth never should have gotten that second chance, as the Blues penalty killers dozed off for a bit. LA would receive five more chances on the power play, ultimately going 1 for 6 on the night.
The Blues fell behind by two in the second period on somewhat of a fluke goal credited to Michal Handzus. David Perron tried to block a shot/pass across the crease, but instead, inadvertently deflected the the puck through the pads of Mason, who was moving from his right to left. Mason played very well for the Blues, again making huge key saves keeping his team within comeback distance. While on the powerplay, LA's Drew Doughty, who collected his fifth point of the season in the game, carried the puck into the Blues end, started to go behind the net, and then quickly centered the puck to a trailing Frolov. Frolov tried to put the puck in the far side of the net, but Mason snared the shot with his glove.
At the other end of the ice, Jon Quick played a brilliant game, when needed. Similar to the past three games, the bulk of the Blues onslaught took place in the third period. Quick made a highlight reel save on Alexander Steen in the third period, sliding from his right to left and stacking the pads on a shot labeled top shelf. The Blues power play looked sharp, but they were unable to beat Quick, going 0 for 5 on the night. Even strength, the Blues again looked timid. At times, possible shots were ignored and passes were made instead, like Crombeen's chance, just outside the crease in the third. Crombeen was perhaps a foot outside the crease, a wide open lane in front of him and players piled up on either side, and instead of taking the shot, he elected to pass the puck across the ice to a well covered teammate. Reluctance to shoot and a brilliant save by the post, kept the Blues from lighting the lamp more often.
The Blues finally got on the board late in the third period when Steen circled around the back of the net and came out the other side, sending a laser beam over a sprawling Quick and just under the crossbar. The puck was in and out so fast play continued on. At the next stoppage, the referee reviewed the play and the goal was awarded. Many fans will say they wish the Blues would play every game like they did in the final minutes of tonight's game. I don't. In the final minutes, the Blues definitely played better, but also more frantic. Instead, I would like to see the Blues play an entire game with the intensity of the final minutes of the game versus LA.
On the bright side, Erik Johnson once again played well, this time showcasing his defensive skills by stopping several LA rushes with a simple, yet effective, pokecheck, reminiscent of a former Blues giant, Chris Pronger. In addition to Johnson, Perron, Steen, and Winchester worked hard on every shift. Perron and Winchester drew 3 of the 5 penalties taken by the Kings. Alex Pietrangelo played well in his first game of the season. Didn't see or hear much about him during the game, and like they say, no news is good news. In the waning minutes of the game, it would have been nice to see Berglund, a healthy scratch, out on the ice. Nothing against Cam Janssen, but was it really worth sitting Berglund so Janssen could see 5:02 worth of ice time? Then again, who am I to second guess Murray?
The Blues are off until the 15th, when they will head out to the desert to play the new and moderately improved, 2-2, Gretzkyless Coyotes. The Blues cannot overlook this team like they did the Thrashers and Kings. Phoenix has shown a lot of determination in its first four games this season, a team the Blues could take notes from. The schedule doesn't get any easier after the 'Yotes. Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Dallas round out the next two weeks of games for the Note. I don't believe it's time for Blues fans to hit the panic button, abandon ship, or eject just yet. After all, it is only game four. But, certainly, Murray needs to get his troops together and somehow find a way to get them as pumped up and ready to play every game like it's against Detroit. The Blues need to find a way to play a full 60 minutes of tough, hard-fought hockey, the same kind of hockey which propelled them into the playoffs six months ago. Surely, at some point, this team will turn it around and get on track. When they do, look out NHL.