The round-robin “tune-up” games have come to a close and the St. Louis Blues will now get ready to defend their title in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Even though the last week has been fun, this is when the real fun starts.
Game 1: Colorado Avalanche Defeat Blues 2-1
This was an up-and-down game for the club, as expected. It was their first game that mattered since March, so there was some rust to be expected, even after their exhibition loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blues struggled to control the puck in the first period but received a late power play on a minor penalty on Gabriel Landeskog. From the left dot, a classic snipe from David Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, despite being outshot 16-4 in the first.
Jordan Binnington proved once again that he’s not nervous in high-pressure games. He held a high-powered Colorado offense scoreless through the first two periods.
The Avalanche scored two goals in the third period to win the game, including a late power play with Nazem Kadri scoring with 0.1 seconds left – a heartbreaking loss for the Blues.
They then had to shift their focus to trying to get their first win in the bubble against a talented Vegas Golden Knights team. The Blues went 1-0-2 against the Golden Knights in the 2019-20 season.
Game 2: Golden Knights Defeat Blues 6-4
This game started similar to the first round-robin game – the Blues weren’t generating shots but scored first on another Perron goal. They were outshot 13-5 in the first period but went to the intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Binnington was excellent in the first period and has remained the best player on the team through the round-robin games to this point. Colton Parayko continues to prove how important he is to the team, scoring a goal in the second to give the club a 2-0 lead.
Things fell apart from there, as over the next seven minutes, Vegas scored three goals to take a 3-2 lead. Two of those goals were on the power play for Vegas – the Blues penalty kill has been concerning, to say the least.
The game got crazy after the three goals for Vegas, the Blues tied it up at 3-3 on another goal from Parayko. Just 21 seconds after Parayko’s second goal, Troy Brouwer gave the Blues a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
The Blues’ defense had no answer in the third period, as Vegas scored three goals with no answer from the defending champs – a 6-4 loss to go to 0-2-0 for the round-robin. (from ‘Thursday’s NHL playoffs: Vegas dominates St. Louis 6-4, one win from West’s top seed’, The Detroit News— 8/6/20)
One encouraging stat from the game for St. Louis was their dominance on face-offs, winning 70 percent of them. There were a lot of discouraging stats in the game as well, though, including the Golden Knights generating 71 shot attempts to the Blues 28.
They needed to re-group quickly and play their game on Sunday against the Dallas Stars. The winner of this game would play the Calgary Flames, while the loser would take on the Vancouver Canucks. They need to get on track as they head into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game 3: Dallas Stars Defeat Blues 2-1 (Shootout)
The first period of this game was solid for both teams, they both had a couple of penalties each. The Blues led 1-0 after the first on a 3-on-2 pass from Sammy Blais to Robert Thomas, the first goal of the restart for him. Jake Allen was solid – if not for an offside challenge on a Vince Dunn goal, the Blues would be up 2-0.
The second and third periods were all Dallas – they hounded the puck in their offensive zone and generated 28 shots over the final 40 minutes. Allen was excellent in this game, but the Stars tied the game on a Joe Pavelski screened shot goal with under a minute to play. Another heartbreaking lead lost for the club.
Related: Top 3 All-Time Blues Goalies
The overtime was back and forth with a few chances for both teams, including a Vladimir Tarasenko breakaway that Anton Khudobin stopped. The shootout was three misses for the Blues and a game-winner from Denis Gurianov.
Another disappointing result, and with that, the Blues and Boston Bruins, the teams who had the most points in each conference, finished 0-7-1 in the round-robin and exhibition games. (from ‘Blues love 2-1 shootout to Dallas, face Vancouver in first round’, St. Louis Post Dispatch— 8/9/20)
Now, St. Louis will play the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, a young team that hasn’t been playoff-tested to this point. The Blues have to find their game quickly, or they will exit the bubble early.