4 Takeaways From the Blues’ 6-4 Loss to the Hurricanes – 12/1/22

The calendar has flipped to December, and with Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, the St. Louis Blues will need to put their work boots on for the rest of the season to push themselves into a playoff position. Last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes was the first of 15 in December. The Blues came out with a strong level of play but were ultimately dominated by the Hurricanes’ puck possession throughout the game. Had it not been for the efforts of Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, the game could have quickly gotten out of hand.

Thomas Returns to Action

Blues forward Robert Thomas returned to the lineup after missing one game due to a lower-body injury. The team quickly felt the benefits of him in the lineup, especially on the power play.

Though the Blues closed out the first period with a 1-0 lead and opened the second period taking a 2-0 lead, the Hurricanes dictated the pace and control of the game overall. Unlike the rest of his team, Thomas was the only member of his team to have at least a 50 percent success rate on the faceoff dot, going 7-7. He lead his team overall for the night with Ryan O’Reilly just behind him at 46.67 percent, and Brayden Schenn at 35.29 percent. He was noticeable in all areas of the ice creating plays and dancing around the offensive zone, carefully picking his moment to set his teammate up for a shot on net.

Blues Elect for 11 Forwards & 7 Defensemen for Third Straight Game

The Blues chose to keep defenseman Calle Rosen in the lineup as he continues to play at a level that makes him difficult to be removed from the lineup. Though he started the season as the seventh defenseman on the roster, he has arguably played his way to becoming the team’s fifth- or sixth-best defenseman this year. Head coach Craig Berube elected to keep defenseman Robert Bortuzzo in the lineup, citing his penalty-killing and defensive abilities as a key factor.

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“For me, being more aggressive,” Berube said. “I think he’s way more aggressive in the battles in his own end and competing and just using his feet to get up the ice now. He’s really done a good job of jumping past getting off his check, jumping, getting going up the ice, beating people up the ice and creating offensive that way for us.”

Ultimately playing the fewest minutes of the team, Bortuzzo ended the night logging 6:18, registering two shots on goal. The decision to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen has not worked in the team’s favor for the second game since winning 5-4 in overtime with the format against the Florida Panthers.

Kyrou Dropped to Third Line

During the team’s morning skate, Berube and Jordan Kyrou had an on-ice conversation explaining the decision to move him to the third line, not as a demotion, but to help balance the lineup ahead of the game.

“They have been, and that’s been an important line,” Berube said. “We need all our guys to produce and play good hockey. You’ve got to form some lines that you think are going to be successful and they were. That line was good. That’s one of the reasons we went back to it.”

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kyrou was the only member of his line that managed to log a point on the scoresheet last night after assisting on O’Reilly’s last-minute goal in the third period. The decision to move Kryou to a line with Schenn and Ivan Barbashev does provide a more balanced lineup overall and increases chances of scoring throughout the game. However, of Kyrou’s nine goals this season, he has been assisted by Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich on three, Schenn twice, and Barbashev once. The speed and skill that Kyrou possess appear to be a better fit with players like Buchnevich and Thomas, a deployment that will be one to keep an eye on.

Blues Struggle in the 2nd Period… Again

The Blues’ season has been plagued through the middle frame, a concerning trend that appears to have only one answer: better checking. The team allowed three goals in 1:04, once again allowing goals to be scored in bunches during the second period. After those trio of goals by the Hurricanes, the Blues have been outscored 38-23 in the second period this season.

Related: Blues’ Must Watch Games in December 2022

Binnington appeared frustrated after his team elected to not challenge Carolina’s first goal for a potential goaltender interference scenario. The decision would have been difficult to rule in favor of Binnington based on his position when the interference occurred. With his placement, it would have been difficult for the league to overturn the goal, and a high probability of the Blues taking a two-minute minor penalty due to an unsuccessful challenge.

Notable Quotables

Torey Krug on the Blues‘ overall performance and record: “We’re a good team. Our record doesn’t exactly show it but pretty soon we’re going to overtake games and we’re going to put together 60 minutes. We’re playing good stretches of hockey against pretty good teams and we have a chance to win. It’s starting to come. It will come.”

Berube on a no-call trip on Noel Acciari on ‘Canes’ second goal: “I thought Acciari was tripped in the slot. Should have been a penalty. All day long. I looked at it and for me it’s a penalty.”

Berube on not challenging goalie interference on the Hurricanes’ first goal: “It’s close, but the guy is not skating through the crease. So, it’s a tough call. We called one similar to that in Pittsburgh last year and it was overturned. It’s a similar play.”

The Blues will hit the road for their next three games, their first stop in Pittsburgh to play the Penguins on Saturday at 6 pm CST. For more Blues insight and live interaction, get involved in the conversation on Twitter.

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