The Blues, through two games in Edmonton, have scored one goal. One of those games was an exhibition, the other is a round-robin game with little consequence outside of playoff seeding. Both games can be viewed as warm ups, trying to get acclimated to being back to play. Other teams, especially the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers, who view goaltending as optional in their series, are scoring with aplomb. The Blues in their first round-robin game focused on shutting down a high-octane Colorado offense. They succeeded for the most part, until Kadri’s literal last second goal ended it in regulation.
The Blues’ scorers need to pick it up. You can’t win a game against Colorado 1-0, and you certainly can’t win one against Thursday’s opponent, the Vegas Golden Knights, that way either. The Dallas Stars had the Golden Knights on the ropes last night, scoring three goals in a five-minute time span during the second period. The Golden Knights roared back in the third with four goals. Defense, offense, it doesn’t matter. You take your foot off of the gas either way - or you don’t bother to apply the gas to start with - and Vegas is going to walk all over you.
The Blues learned this the hard way during the regular season. The Blues finished the season 1-0-2 against Vegas, February 13th’s 6-5 overtime loss was a see-saw game that boiled down to Zach Sanford vs. the world. Sanford’s hat trick didn’t keep the Blues on track. The team blew a 4-2 lead, and then a 5-4 lead, en route to a 6-5 overtime loss.
“I think that we’re getting stripped too easily. And for me a lot of times, we have too many people watching what’s going on and not getting in there and getting numbers on the puck.
“These teams, they’re gonna double up on us. They know our game, they know we want to hang onto that puck in the offensive zone and cycle. So we’re gonna have to get numbers in there. We’re just not quite aggressive enough yet.”
The Blues need to focus on figuring out their aggression level, especially with shots on goal. As the game picked up on Sunday, the Blues peppered the Avalanche more. By the end of the game, the Blues finished with 32 shots on net, which is solid. Allowing 38 shots on goal is less than ideal; that only two went in is a testament to Jordan Binnington’s play. The Blues hit hard, they blocked well, and they dominated in the face-off circle 53 to 47 percent. Overall, they played a very good game. They just didn’t score.
There’s not a lot from a defensive standpoint that needs tweaking between Sunday and Thursday. There is, however, momentum to be generated by the offense. Vladimir Tarasenko is healthy, and is back on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Braden Schenn. If the Blues want to wrap up the round-robin with some wins, that line is going to have to click just as much as the second line. Against a team like Vegas, they can’t be scared of using the body and going to the net for rebounds or to pounce on chances. Vegas can make them pay for sloppy play, and they can attack a team when they feel an opportunity. If the Blues back off for a second, that’s when the danger strikes.
The Blues should be fine Thursday, but if the offense continues to be anemic, there is some cause for concern heading into round one.