The less said about the Blues’ humbling 6-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night the better. Goaltending was a mess of flubber and kicksaves straight to the opposing team. Defense, which has been strong through a bulk of the Blues’ season so far, followed the goaltending, making for discombobulated scene. The offense, which shone through the Blues’ first three games, has been nearly absent their last three.
The Blues last three games have declined from a generally good effort in Winnipeg to a two period out of three game against the Oilers to a wake-up call against the Predators. The most frustrating part of this may be that the reasons for the stumbles - Pavel Buchnevich’s and Brandon Saad’s absences - won’t be fixed any time soon. Coach Craig Berube is going to have to continue to adjust the lines to see what works, and the players - well, they need to step it up.
Most fans would consider the arrival of the Montreal Canadiens to St. Louis to be the perfect opportunity for this to happen. The Habs, like the Blues, sit at .500 on the young season. They defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Thursday, fighting off one of the league’s pleasant surprise teams. Granted, the Habs and goaltender Sam Montembeault had to deal with 45 shots on net from the Sabres - if the Blues can keep up the pressure on tonight’s starter, old friend Jake Allen, the Habs’ defense could well crack easier than the Predators’.
The question isn’t necessarily if the Blues can maintain pressure, it’s whether or not they can capitalize on it without Buchnevich and Saad. Jordan Binnington, who has been strong this season to start, should be back in net tonight, so the outcome should be preferable to the mess that happened Thursday night. Luckily the Canadiens’ power play won’t be much of a threat, going just 1 for 24 this year, but if the Blues’ offense doesn’t click it doesn’t matter how much work needs to be done on the Habs’ part.