Don’t look now, but the Blues are back in this thing. What was a two-game series hole, a risky place for any team to find themselves, has turned into a 2-2 series tie. The Blues shifted from knowing what they could do in the past to showing what they can do in the present, and it was like watching a different team.
They’ve been giving the Canucks a run for their money at five on five play, but the penalty kill’s been weak at best and the team’s defense has lead to some costly mistakes. Many of those errors have involved Quinn Hughes and Bo Horvat, and they finally found a way to prevent it Monday night.
Having to be on the kill seven times in one game is playing with fire regardless of what team your opponent is. Considering that the Canucks had scored on six out of eleven power plays prior to Monday, the Blues were playing with napalm. Whatever adjustments they made helped.
A major adjustment has been putting Jake Allen in net. Jordan Binnington has gotten minimal support this series, but he’s also not looked sharp. Whether that’s a chicken or an egg situation is anyone’s guess, but the return - and resurgence - of Jake Allen to the net calmed the team through the two wins and allowed them to get back to playing physical hockey. They’ve been wearing the Canucks down, and it showed. Vancouver finished the game with just 23 shots on goal, while the Blues and their 37 shots turned it into a shooting gallery at the other end of the ice. Factor in two power play goals for St. Louis and it’s easy to figure that the tides are finally starting to turn.
Unfortunately, Vladimir Tarasenko will more than likely not be joining the Blues for the remainder of this series. Alex Steen is a question mark for tonight, while Ivan Barbashev is ready to return. The adjustments that the Blues have been making to win, especially on the PK, don’t rely much on Tarasenko, but don’t let that give you a false sense of “the Blues are fine without him!” Having a healthy Tarasenko missing is a large problem; however, he’s far from healthy right now.
The Blues have found ways all season long to play around and through issues, and they’re going to have to continue doing that tonight. If the last two games are any indication, they’re more than capable of doing that.