Coming in to tonight’s game against New Jersey it wasn’t clear what Blues team we were going to get. Was it the all around effort team that lost to Philadelphia last week or the explosive scoring but scatter-brained team we saw in a high-scoring victory over Toronto on Saturday? Well surprise. surprise we kind of got a combination of both.
A 6:00 central start time is always worrisome as the Blues seem to always fall a step behind early and can’t recover. The Devils gave the Blues a chance early on as Nico Hischier took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone after a Jake Allen turnover just 36 seconds in. Despite scoring Saturday night on the power play, the Blues still couldn't seem to find the touch early on as Vladimir Tarasenko had a couple of shots blocked.
New Jersey would take advantage of the Blues lack of success on the power play just a minute after the kill. Brian Boyle won a draw in the offensive zone and the puck went in to the corner where Blake Coleman outworked the defense before throwing the puck to the point. Boyle redirected a shot on net that Allen couldn’t handle and Coleman slammed home the rebound for an early 1-0 lead.
As the period wore on the Blues started to get on track and start taking the play to New Jersey. The teams combined for 4 power plays over the remainder of the period but neither team was able to get much in the way of chances, combining for 7 shots over the 4 man advantages.
The second period has been the Blues bread and butter period by far this year and it yielded results yet again, although it literally took the entire period for fruit to be borne. Brayden Schenn had an opportunity just over 8 minutes into the frame when he found himself with a wide open net but Andy Greene was able to slide his stick into the lane preventing the tying goal from passing by Cory Schneider.
New Jersey blanketed Tarasenko all night but when Vladi has a split second to fire a puck he is incredible dangerous. With just over two minutes to go in the second the Blues were able to hold the puck in the Devils zone and Schenn slid the puck over to Vladi at the point. Tarasenko walked in a step and ripped a shot that deflected off Mirco Mueller’s elbow and beat Schneider.
The wheels started to fall off for New Jersey after that goal as just a minute late Coleman would go off for a high stick and the penalty would have major consequences when the game resumed in the third.
The Blues struggles on the power play have been well documented but after witnessing the skill on the eventual game winning goal its hard to fathom this team being shut out for long stretches again. Schenn added to his lofty point total with a sick backhand pass to Jaden Schwartz who buried the puck just 36 seconds into the third to give the Blues the lead.
In years past once they gained the lead the Blues would turtle quickly and fall hard but tonight we saw something we haven't seen from a Blues team in awhile. They stepped on the throat of their opponent and ripped control of the game away from the Devils. Even when they went on the penalty kill the Blues were the more aggressive team causing turnovers and gaining scoring chances. The Blues outshot the Devils 19-4 in the third and Schenn sealed the win with an empty netter with just under a minute to play.
The Blues took advantage of a team that was coming off of a long western Canada road trip and spent the day before traveling and that is something we haven't seen in years past from the Blues. Brayden Schenn continues to make the draft day trade for him look like one of the best moves Doug Armstrong has made in St. Louis. Special teams still is a work in progress but the penalty kill is starting to click and once shots start hitting the net this power play one unit could be one of the best.
The Blues return home on Thursday to host the Arizona Coyotes.
#3 - Jake Allen: 21 saves
#2 - Vladimir Tarasenko: 1 Goal and 2 Assists
#1 - Brayden Schenn: 1 Goal and 2 Assists