The Blues lost their exhibition game to the Blackhawks 4-0. It was a flat, uninspired performance. Special teams were awful - the penalty kill allowed two Chicago power play goals, both from Dominik Kubalik, in the third period. The kicker? The Blackhawks had the 28th ranked PP in the regular season.
The Blues’ power play units went 0-for-4, and looked lackadaisical at best. The team took a laissez-faire approach, and it showed. After the game, captain Alex Pietrangelo summarized it well:
“That’s why you play an exhibition game, right?” captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “You can’t prepare for a game unless you play a game. We play against each other (in practice) but that really doesn’t do a whole lot.
“Obviously we’re not happy with the result. You want to win the game. But it’s something to work off of.”
The thing to focus on is the fact that this was just a prep game. It’s exhibition. That’s it. The Blues haven’t suddenly forgotten how to run a power play. The goaltenders didn’t suddenly drop off of a cliff. They simply haven’t played a game since someone other than themselves since March.
Round-robins start this weekend, and the tempo of Sunday’s game against the Avalanche will be that of a real game, because it is a real game. The Blues will be playing for seeding; last night they were playing for practice. They don’t have a qualifying round series to prepare for like the Blackhawks do. It makes more sense that the Hawks would come out full force at a regular game tempo; they’re being thrown into the fire against the Edmonton Oilers right at the gate.
I’m not saying that the Hawks had more of an “incentive” to play well last night, but they had more of a reason to. They have something to prove; the Blues just need to pick up where they left off. They know the difference between last night’s game and Sunday’s game.
The Blues beat the Hawks four times during the regular season. They don’t have a thing to prove against Chicago. It’s fine that they went through the motions; they have an idea of what needs to be fine tuned and focused on now for this weekend. It’s bad enough that Carl Gunnarsson had to leave the game after blocking a shot. No one wants injuries period, but you certainly don’t want someone to go down in an exhibition game.
It was nice to have the Blues back on TV. It was weird to not have anyone in the stands, and a lack of a crowd something every team’s going to have to work through so players don’t treat every game like an exhibition. These guys are all professionals; they know what’s at stake. If they come out against Colorado and play with the same light touch that they did against Chicago, then sure, be concerned.
A 4-0 loss to the Blackhawks in a meaningless game in July? Just enjoy the fact that we watched hockey last night, take it for what it was, and focus on what matters. Make note of the areas of improvement that’re needed, and let’s see if they come out of the gate Sunday afternoon with some more spark in their step.