Jaroslav Halak was not good enough at the start of the game and allowed two goals on shots that could (should?) have been stopped. The skaters looked just like they did in the first game of the season: a little too scrambly and trying too hard to finesse pretty passes to one another when another option was open. A lot of shots, yes, but a lot of poorly-selected shots that had no real chance of getting in seems to be another early season trend.
By the time the Blues started really playing well and controlling the play, it was too late. The responding goal by Matt D'Agostini was a nice change and gave the Blues a little bit of a boost, but you can't spot many NHL teams three goals before you get going and expect to win.
Coming into this four game road trip, I thought to myself that it would be nice to come out of it 3-1, or at least 2-1-1. With games against the Ducks, Sharks and Kings left on the docket, that is going to be a tough task. Especially if these early games are an indication of how the team plans to attack games.
A few topics for your consideration:
- Whether you're an "It's too early to judge" person or a "Halak is a mess" person is irrelevant at this point. What is important to know is that this year is clearly tied to him. If he gets on track and stops being all Chris Mason-like then the Blues will be good. If he continues to let in soft goals and ill-timed goals, the Blues will be bad. There is no other answer. He will not be traded. He will not be benched for Brian Elliott. Ben Bishop will not come riding in on a Ford made in St. Louis with a Chaminade t-shirt on, a bowl of toasted ravs in his lap and a bottle of Budweiser in his hand: the St. Louis kid isn't going to get a chance to steal Halak's job until next summer. This is it. It is Halak or bust. Maybe both.
- The Stars are not a good team. Wanna know how I know that? Steve Ott has become the face of the franchise. He's on the power play, the penalty kill, last minutes and nearly every other situation you can imagine. Steve Ott is a valuable player because he can do a lot of things for his team. That said, he just isn't good enough to earn all those opportunities on any good team. Ergo: Dallas is not a good team.
- Kari Lehtonen, on the other hand, is a really good goalie. He made the saves he was supposed to make and plenty that he shouldn't have made. Swimming around in front of his net on the first Blues goal isn't going to make him a ton of fans in Dallas, but overall he proved he's worthy of the Stars' trust in him when Atlanta gave up on him.
- Great goaltending by the other team or not and a ton of shots by the Blues again (38) or not, at some point we have to stop hanging these losses on, "Sometimes you run into a hot goalie." Yeah, and sometimes you make a good goalie look great by not making him work too hard for his 36 saves. The Blues' goals were scored when Lehtonen was moving. He was scrambling on the first one and, as the broadcast team pointed out, On Chris Stewart's goal, he changed the angle before firing a quick, hard shot back against the grain. When Lehtonen was set and just had to block or catch shots, he made it look easy.
- I said earlier this week that the Chris Stewart - T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund line looks like it might score at least one goal every game this year. I still think that's true if only because they looked pedestrian for half of the game and then dominant for the rest of the game. Even if they're only playing like they're interested for half of every game, they'll still likely score. But just think what they can do to this league if they come out of the gate ready to go and play that way all 60 minutes? Monstrous.
- Captain David Backes needs to - stop me if you've heard this before - get off this slow start to the season train that he seems to... What's that? Oh, you have heard this before? OK, I'll stop. Seriously, Kelly's husband, one assist and a minus-1 through three games is not good enough.
- Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are a blast to watch play. I love the offensive mentality they have and the way the handle and distribute the puck. Nikita Nikitin has a similar vibe to him, but he's much more of a bull in a china shop about it. Where the other two look smooth and controlled, Nikitin seems to always be barreling into the play and just blasting away with abandon when he gets the puck. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, but the contrast seems pretty stark.
- The great thing about the offensive chances the kids are taking is that it isn't hurting the Blues defensively. Pietrangelo got beat on the shortie goal, but that was because of the weird bounce off the glass and not because he blew coverage. I think the reason the defenders can take those chances is because Barret Jackman, Kent Huskins and Roman Polak are playing such smart, defensive games as the partners in those pairings. Doug Armstrong, the architect of this blueline, has to be happy with how the unit is playing.
Saturday in San Jose is the next chance to do it all right. We'll be here, not watching baseball. You?