The Blues, after a strong three game winning streak to start the season, have started to falter. Two games, two back to back losses, and one goal. That’s where they’re at now as the pace begins to pick up. Tonight is the team’s first second game of a back to back, and it’s against a team that gives them fits - the Nashville Predators.
The Jets always play the Blues heavy, and it works - St. Louis couldn’t even get a puck past Connor Hellebuyck. The Predators in recent years have also played the Blues well, but the biggest stick in the Blues’ spokes has been Philip Forsberg. That isn’t going to change, nor will the danger coming from Matt Duchene.
The Blues’ biggest window of opportunity tonight comes with, oddly enough, goaltending. The Preds have not gotten off to the best of starts this season (2-4-1) and a bit of that lands on the very broad shoulders of Jusse Saros. He’s 1-3-1 on the year with a 3.04 GAA and a .894 save percentage. The Preds haven’t played since their 3-1 loss to the Flyers on Saturday, so Saros should be rested and in net against the Blues.
The Blues’ offensive struggles might give Saros a bit of a break. In the team’s two losses, both Thomas Greiss and Jordan Binnington have been excellent. The Blues’ defense as well has also played strongly, especially in last night’s stifling second period. The issue here is the offense, which has slowed down without Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad.
As Craig Berube explained to the Post-Dispatch:
“We’re getting chances, but sometimes you go through spells like this and you’ve got to stick with it.
“I mean, you’ve got to simplify it a little bit more maybe. And I’ll say it again, get on the inside. That’s where you’re going to get your goals a lot of times.
“We had a lot of good looks, and we missed the net on a lot of good looks. That’s one area we can get better at is hitting the net a little bit more. Again, creating second and third opportunities around the net a little bit more.”
The team finished last night with an impressive 38 shots on goal and just one goal, a PPG from Ryan O’Reilly, to show for it. If they dump 38 shots on Saros tonight, odds are better that the outcome is going to be different - but only if the shining work from the defense and goaltending continues.