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Blues at Flames preview: Where’s the D?

The Blues got a point out of last night’s loss in Edmonton by grace of God and Ville Husso.

St. Louis Blues v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

To say last night’s game against the Oilers got off to a rough start is an incredibly large understatement. The Blues allowed four goals in a first period for the first time since 2019, and all of them were bad. Bad defense played a huge role in the first two - do you miss Torey Krug yet? - and bad goaltending played a role in the second. I don’t buy that the Blues consciously play more poorly in front of Jordan Binnington, but if you’re a person who feels that way, the team gave you evidence of that last night. After the defense made it apparent that this wasn’t going to be a game they participated in, Binnington checked out on the next two goals against, and was pulled in favor of tonight’s starter, Ville Husso.

Binnington allowed four goals on just 13 shots, playing 13:30. Husso allowed one goal in the second period and unfortunately one in overtime, making 25 saves on 27 shots. Regardless of if you have a preferred goaltender, you probably don’t want to see Binnington leave a game with a .662 save percentage.

Craig Berube certainly wasn’t thrilled with the goaltending to start the game:

When asked to explain what went wrong in that 4-1 first period, Berube replied: “We need saves.”

Obviously, it’s the job of goalies to make saves. After a pregnant pause, Berube was asked if there was anything else to the first period.

“No. Nothing. That was it,” he replied.

Honestly, the Blues need more than saves. They need defense. Credit the Blues’ offense, sans Jordan Kyrou again, for even getting the team into overtime. Buchnevich’s two goals continued his hot streak, and Ivan Barbashev’s game tying goal was outstanding:

Barbashev’s cracked 20 on the season, and Brayden Schenn is one away.

The Blues need more of that tonight to beat the first place Flames, and they’ll also need more solid goaltending from Husso. The last time the Blues were in Calgary, they were shellacked in a 7-1 loss that also got Binnington pulled. That loss jump-started a run of good play. Tonight’s loss could well do the same thing - and needs to, if the Blues want to secure a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

The Flames are well rested, not playing since a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings on Thursday night. They’re 21-7-7 at home and 5-3-2 in their last ten. The Blues’ defense will need to step it up tonight to contain Johnny Gaudreau, who is leading the Flames with 31 goals and 91 points. Matthew Tkachuk’s 32 goals and 83 points, along with Elias Lindholm’s 34 goal season and Andrew Mangiapane’s 30 goal campaign means that the Blues have to contend with four 30 goal scorers tonight.