Some nights you're the hammer, and some nights half of your team catches the flu on the back half of a back-to-back on the road against one of the best teams in the NHL.
Coming off a thorough beating of the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, the Blues hopped back to the greater LA area to play the Anaheim Ducks. The Blues two biggest offseason additions - centers Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera - had to sit out due to injury/flu, so the roster was largely the same to take the ice as went 0-3 last year against the Not-So-Mighty Ducks. The result looked frustratingly familiar.
Right from the drop of the puck, the Blues looked like they were skating through mud. The Ducks controlled the game early on like it was a video game on "rookie" difficulty, taking a 1-0 lead before the Blues could even attempt a shot on goal. Joakim Lindstrom tried to bounce the puck off the boards at center ice to avoid a check, but instead gave it up to Rickard Rakell, who found Matt Beleskey with only AHL call-up Petteri Lindbohm to beat. Lindbohm whiffed on a poke check, and Beleskey slapped it home past Brian Elliott stick side to open the scoring only 1:37 into the game.
Later on a Ducks power play, Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf was probably as surprised as you were to find Barret Jackman allowing him to carry the puck into the zone uncontested. The Canadian gold medalist found Jakob Silfverberg on the right, who dropped it Sami Vatanen. Vatanen one-timed it from the point and beat Ells, who may have been interfered with by William Karlsson (but really no he wasn't, he just got slightly screened and beat).
In the second period, again on the power play after a Maxim Lapierre tripping call, T.J. Oshie drifted too far inside, likely in an attempt to catch Karlsson from behind to deny him a pass in the slot from Getzlaf on the right. Instead, Getzlaf found Vatanen alone of the left, and Yoshie couldn't recover in time. Elliott, like Osh, was likely expecting a centering pass, and could not possibly shift far enough over to keep Vatenen from making it 3-0 with his second of the night. THAT'S what a good power play can do.
The third period saw the Blues take advantage of score effects to outshoot the Ducks 16-6, which is what happens when any half-way decent team is trying to make up a three goal deficit. Even so, play improved, and the Blues even looked threatening in spots in the last few minutes, but once again couldn't capitalize, getting shutout for the 2nd time in 3 games.
CORSI CHART VIA HOCKEY STATS.CA HERE, IF AND WHEN I CAN GET IT TO DOWNLOAD TONIGHT
Thoughts - I has them:
- The Blues haven't won at the Pond since 2009. You can throw out every flu or fatigue related excuse you can think of, and those have an affect no doubt. But there are two teams (essentially) in LA, all the way in the far corner of the country. We may have been in Arizona last night, but teams do the LA-Anaheim back-to-back all the time. That doesn't stop many of them from getting two points on the road from the Ducks. I believe we play at the Ducks twice this year so we'll have another chance. Don't fuck it up.
- The LA loss was frustrating, but the Blues still played very well - you could argue they played better against the Kings than they did last night, all things considered. Tonight was a whole other story. Sometimes that shit happens, especially early in the season. We don't have to like it, in fact please don't, but it happens to every team, and it's obviously more likely to happen against better teams. I know that argument basically boils down to "Sometimes good teams beat other good teams," which is a pretty #HotTake, but just...on to the next one. I hope the boys get some sleep on the plane, because they obviously need it.
- Petteri Lindbohm got some pretty high praise from JK & Panger, but I'm going to have to disagree. With the caveat that no one in the Blue Note was particularly impressive tonight, Lindbohm left me fairly underwhelmed for most of the game. I'm not sure what more he could have done on the first goal short of timing his poke check better, but he was also caught on a bad pinch that led to a 2-on-1 at one point and finished the game as the only Blue with a negative Corsi rating (again, 3rd period score effects). He did, to be fair, show some offensive flashes late in the game with some hard shots, 4 of which actually got on goal, and did recover nicely on what would have otherwise been a breakaway chance at 4-0, so I'm not too concerned, but I didn't think he was worth quite the same high marks others were giving him. At the very least, I still already trust him about as much as......
- ...*sigh*...despite the evidence to the contrary, I don't like bashing on you every night, Ian Cole. But come on, man, play it around the boards, or at least take the puck behind the net, maybe try and find a teammate up the ice...do anything other than carrying into your own crease. There are ways to get a chance to change lines that don't put you in danger of pulling a Chris Phillips.
- Paul Stastny is now considered "week-to-week." For the first time, I'm almost happy that the NHL continues giving the Blues almost full weeks off in October.
Ducks dominating in Icings Forced/60 stat so far tonight.— jer (@JerMeansWell) October 20, 2014
Are the Blues baking a Get Well Soon cake for Paul Stastny? Is that what all this icing is for? #NailedIt— Jason McAdams (@JMill1120) October 20, 2014
Elliot's net could not have been more open. Really nice movement on the PP for the Ducks.— Jen LC (@RegressedPDO) October 20, 2014
Whilst I agree that we've been lumbered with a B2B against a strong side, we really should be doing better #stlblues— Devilled Ham Lincoln (@grantsales) October 20, 2014
Based on the start, are we sure the entire Blues lineup doesn't have the flu? Whole roster looks sluggish. #StlBlues— David Rogers (@FrozenNotes) October 20, 2014
I dislike California.— Laura (@hildymac) October 20, 2014
This is only the 2nd time in St Louis Blues franchise history they have been Shutout twice in first 5 games of season (1973-74) #stlblues— STL Blues History (@STLBlueshistory) October 20, 2014
Did the leaks in the Honda Center roof cause the clock to get dicked around? #StLBlues— Tyler Atwood (@KingDonutI) October 20, 2014
@lkorac10 u mean like getzlaf threw it at the net? blues overloaded with skill; let 'm play— Andy McDonald (@10_AMac) October 20, 2014
For future games, if you find a tweet (or tweet one yourself) you think is worthy of the prestigious title of Tweet of the Game, send it my way: @JMill1120!
As for the Blues, they now come home, where they'll either get a rest day or have to do a shit ton of Herbbies, really no middle ground. They'll next play against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at DrinkScotch Center. Be sure to buy your copy of St. Louis Game Time, because if you don't then fuck you!
Who did you think was the Blues player of the game? You've...uh...got your work cut out for you tonight.