The St. Louis Blues took to the ice Sunday afternoon (Dec. 11) for a Central Division showdown when they hosted the Colorado Avalanche at the Enterprise Center. Desperate to rebound from a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, they entered the game with a “team first” mentality, something they have been lacking according to head coach Craig Berube.
Here are four takeaways from the Blues’ overtime loss to the Avalanche.
Blues Showing Team First Mentality
After being called out in their loss to the Jets, the Blues came out of the first period playing a strong first 20 minutes, despite being outshot 10-9. The home team took back-to-back penalties in the game, the first coming with just over five minutes left to play in the first period, and the second nearly halfway through the second period at the 7:37 mark. After killing off both penalties, they had their biggest challenge yet with the team needing to protect a one-goal lead and kill off a penalty with 2:42 left in the game after Brayden Schenn took an interference penalty. The Blues entered the game with the worst penalty kill in the NHL at 65.6 percent. Fortunately, the penalty-killing unit exited the game successfully preventing all three of the Avalanche’s power play opportunities.
Binnington Beginning to Turn Play Around
Despite earning his seventh consecutive loss, Jordan Binnington showed signs of resilience and composure throughout Sunday’s game. The goaltender played a strong game at the top of his crease, cutting down the angles and making it difficult for the Avalanche to make any plays against him. After the overtime loss to the Avalanche, he now owns a record of 0-3-1 in December, along with a 5.16 goals against average (GAA), and a .840 save percentage (SV%). He ended the game stopping 28 of 31 shots against, a .903 SV%.
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Binnington has recently been a hot topic of discussion due to his on-ice antics and anger, sometimes resulting in penalties. The Stanley Cup-winning goaltender will need to find his mojo once more if he intends to lead his team back to the playoffs in hopes of adding another Cup to his trophy case.
Krug Strong in Return from Injury
Defenseman Torey Krug returned to the lineup after a brief two-game absence. The 31-year-old has seen a decrease in time on ice this season averaging just over 19 minutes, compared to 20:34 last season and 22:33 in 2020-21. Along with that, he has experienced a substantial reduction in offensive production this season as he is on pace for only 35 points, a substantial drop off from his 53-point average during his days with the Boston Bruins. His 16:58 of ice time came in as the fourth-most among skaters in Sunday’s game.
Tarasenko Heating Up in December
The Blues’ Russian forward has started to find his game in the month of December. After scoring the game-tying goal in the third period, Tarasenko has begun to find his offensive groove. Over the first two months of the season, he managed to score only five goals over his first 20 games, two of which came in the team’s first game of the year. Though he is still looking for consistency offensively, the 30-year-old has begun to pick up the pace, scoring three goals in six games this month.
The Blues will need him to find his offensive flair if they wish to make a playoff push this season and dig themselves out of an offensive hole. As they struggle, there is almost a direct correlation to the offensive production of their top performers. If players like Tarasenko do not perform and contribute offensively, the rest of the team seems to struggle as well.
- Binnington on overtime goal: “Kind of a smart play by Makar there, just throwing it back toward the guy coming in. I could’ve been more aggressive there and cut that off and kick it out front, but yeah, it’s tough.”
- Saad on 3-for-3 PK: “I thought we did a better job of committing to the kill and being tighter and just overall, as a team group, not getting too extended out there, so it was a better job for that aspect. So that’s a positive but we’ve got to keep moving forward and improving.”
- Tarasenko on Blues moving forward: “Keep believing. If you don’t believe, nothing is going to happen. I think we have belief…it’s frustrating, but we need to find a way. It’s on us.”
- Berube on team effort: “It’s a good point, I thought we did a lot of good things. PK was a lot better. We were pretty decent. We didn’t get to the inside enough offensively in my opinion. We created some good looks, but we need more. We need more yet and we need to get to the net offensively.”
Related: Blues Need to Rebuild Amidst Disastrous Season
The Blues will return to action on Monday (Dec. 12) for a 7 PM CST matchup against the Nashville Predators.
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