After a tough 3-1 loss at home to the Edmonton Oilers, the St. Louis Blues headed to Nashville to take on the Predators looking to extend their Central Division rival’s losing streak to six games. Instead, they met a motivated and driven team ready and hungry to pounce on their opposition.
Blues Struggles to Produce at Even-Strength Continue
Heading into the game, the Blues had not scored an even-strength goal since the first period of their 4-3 overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken. In the three games since, the team has mustered up only three goals. Over that time, the Blues only had two players – Brayden Schenn and Justin Faulk – scoring two points, while Torey Krug, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Robert Thomas all managed one point apiece.
Last night emphasized the Blues’ recent inability to make crisp passes that have been ill-timed and on the opposition’s stick, rather than a teammate’s. They did not begin their season in the most traditional of senses as they were the last team to start their regular season sitting idly by while some squads played two or more games before they even played one. The team then played their next two games over the following seven days, concluded by another four games in seven days. Game rhythm has not been on their side, but also cannot be used as an excuse for poor performances.
Blues Struggling With Defensive Identity
Over the last two games, the Blues have allowed at least three goals that have often gone uncontested by the team’s defensemen on the ice. Predators forward and former Blue, Zach Sanford was able to score on his backhand on a wraparound goal to beat Thomas Greiss to make the score 3-2. He skated around the net uncontested after slipping the puck around Krug just below the left faceoff dot and beat the goaltender before Krug met him again in front of the net. After the Blues scored the go-ahead goal by Schenn, Nashville scrambled back scoring two goals in 37 seconds within the final five minutes of the second period. They continued to pour on the offense with forward Ryan Johansen scoring just over one minute into the third period. The goal capped off a three-goal surge over 5:24 for the squad.
After the game, Krug commented on the Predators’ goals saying, “You gotta be stronger in front of our net, win battles in front of their net and our net..problem is there’s a lot of shots coming in, and it can be tough to do, but we’ve done it before.” Nashville scored three rebound goals, the first time this has happened in a single game for them since 2018.
Blues’ Forward Depth Has Gone Missing
While the Predators’ top players were able to fill the stat sheet throughout the game, they received additional offensive contributions from their gritty, bottom-six forwards as well. The Blues have been without two of their top-six forwards, Brandon Saad, who has missed the last three games, and Pavel Buchnevich, who has missed the last five. During that time, the team has been forced to use players from their third and fourth lines higher in the lineup, a result that has not proven beneficial. Should the team see both of these players out for longer than a few games, they will need their depth forwards to contribute offensively and help shift the momentum in the games.
Related: 5 Observations From the Blues’ First 5 Games
The Blues will look to regroup and rebound against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at 6 PM in their return to St. Louis. For the Canadiens, the team is projected to start former Blues goaltender, Jake Allen in net and forward Mike Hoffman up front.