It seems with the new year, we as Blues fans are going to be treated with just about the same poor play we ended last year on. The Blues fell 4-1 to Toronto tonight in eerily similar fashion to the game a month ago in St. Louis and the loss was their second straight when tied after two periods. Prior to the game against Minnesota, the Blues had been 8-0-0 when tied after two.
Also, what happened to blowing up the offense looking for a spark? Yes we inserted Patrik Berglund back into the lineup for the first time this year (Welcome Back IceBerg), but everything else was slight changes. Jaskin back down to the fourth line splitting up the hottest line and Paarjavi to the third line with Bergs and Backes? That's blowing it up? Well it didn't work, so now what? I will leave that question to our other writers, on to the recap.
The game started off really well for the Blues but seemingly they all do, only for us to fall off once we score a goal, so you can't get too excited about the start. Alexander Steen had a marvelous chance 30 seconds in when he tipped a shot from Parayko while skating away from the net, but Jonathon Bernier got his blocker on it.
Both teams would push the pace early on and would each see significant zone time as the period progressed. In the theme of tonight's game Troy Brouwer would have a wide open Jori Lehtera on a 2 on 1 break but his pass would be just off and no shot was able to be put on net. The toughest save Bernier would have to make would ironically be on Ryan Reaves when he got a free shot in the slot but being as it was Reaves, it wasn't a great shot.
Tarasenko would take a hooking penalty late in the period but it was the Blues who would get a few odd man rushes while down a man but they couldn't get a shot on to the Leafs net. The period ended with the Blues playing decently well and the shots knotted at 11 but there just seemed to be a semblance of unbalance to the team.
The second period seemingly mirrored the first in that both teams continued to see equal offensive zone time and chances for multiple players. Jake Allen got a bit lucky with Brad Boyes and Leo Komarov in front of the net with the puck playing peek-a-boo between players, sticks and pads, yet he still kept it out of the net. Bernier stayed firm in net with Berglund right on the doorstep, gathering a rebound and spinning around while firing the puck but still no goals.
Shortly after, Paul Stastny would continue the Blues theme tonight as he had a glorious chance on a 2 on 1 but his shot missed a completely wide open net. It's almost like the team wasn't ready to receive any passes from each other the whole night.
Things started to get weird at about the 8 minute mark though, as Daniel Winnik would go off for hooking giving the Blues a power play. It didn't take long for them to capitalize either as Tarasenko would bury a shot past Bernier 20 seconds into the man advantage.
Alright, up 1-0 with Vladi heating up and the Blues pushing the play. Well just as the Blues fans in attendance were sitting back down the game was tied.
Five Seconds!!! Five. Seconds. An untimely whiff on a simple play from Pietrangelo, a slight deflection off of his stick and Allen not being ready and this game had turned over on its side. The Leafs started to control play and when Berglund went off for hooking, you just knew something bad might happen.
Thankfully, the Blues killed off the penalty and the call seemed to spark Berglund a bit as he came out of the box and led the play into the zone where the Blues held control for almost a full minute, putting a few good quality chances on Bernier but ultimately none went in. So not a #shittysecond but not a great period either.
So #TerribleThirds? #TitanicallyHorribleThird?
A slightly questionable cross checking penalty on Kyle Brodziak early in the period would set the tone for how the rest of the game would go. In about the same amount of time it took Tarasenko to score in the second, the Leafs put themselves up with a rocket from Peter Holland.
A great screen by Leo Komarov was the key to this goal as he moved to the right just at the right moment to prevent Jake from seeing that puck. Less then 20 seconds later the Blues were back on the kill when Joel Edmundson went off for tripping. The Blues stopped the bleeding for the moment during this kill but they ever really got their feet moving and while they continued to pour shots on net, they were neither quality or in enough quantity at one time to really put any pressure on.
The Leafs would seal the game late with goals by Nazim Kadri and Michael Grabner and would complete the season sweep of the Blues with both wins coming with the same 4-1 score. In both games Tarasenko would get the first goal and then the Leafs would get the next 4. Its becoming increasingly the same story again in St. Louis with only one goal scorer and the rest of the team just looking on.
Ottawa comes to town on Monday and with the Blues floundering against the East this year, after years of domination, this game could be more interesting than first thought.
#3 - James van Riemsdyk: Tying goal and another pest tonight. Flew all over the ice, name being called all game
#2 - Jonathon Bernier: 39 Saves, Never seemed to be challenged despite the shot total
#1 - Leo Komarov: 2 Assists, a great screen on the game winner, overall a thorn in our sides tonight