Well the Blues didn’t exactly perform well in Game 1 relative to Jammer’s keys to the series. They didn’t keep the game close, they didn’t score first, they didn’t win the 3rd period, they didn’t win the goaltending battle and the lost the special teams battle.
When your goalie posts a sub 80% save percentage and their posts a 90% save percentage, you are going to lose the vast majority of the games. Couple that with you only getting one power play to their four and getting outscored on special teams and that loss ratio gets even higher. Of course, the save percentage differential was more of the defensive gaffes made by the team than an indictment of the goaltending.
Let’s review for a moment, shall we?
Less than four minutes into the game, Alex Pietrangelo makes a very weak play on the offensive blue line, something that has been far too common this season, allowing the Sharks to break out on a 2 on 1. Unfortunately, Joel Edmundson compounds the problem when he doesn’t take the pass away nor even pressure the puck carrier, allowing an easy goal for Logan Couture.
A little less than six minutes later, the Blues would tie the score on a Jaden Schwartz shot that deflected off Edmundson and into net but bringing the score even would be short lived.
Jay Bouwmeester would get called for what I would consider a ticky-tack penalty and Colton Parayko would complicate things by slashing a Sharks stick into two pieces just seconds into the penalty kill. Joe Pavelski would score a baseball style goal on the ensuing 5 on 3 advantage.
Given the circumstances, the Blues exited the 1st period in reasonably good shape.
Unfortunately, their 2nd period play regressed. The Sharks would open the scoring under eight minutes into the 2nd period when Edmundson makes a lazy dump out directly to the Sharks in the neutral zone. The Steen, Sundqvist, Barbashev line is on the ice and has done Edmundson a disservice as none of them give him a passing outlet. They further compound matters by flying the defensive zone. Even with all of that, the Blues are still in ok but not great position as Pietrangelo and Edmundson are left to defend the two on two. Unfortunately, their gap management is terrible and they allow a screened shot by Kevin Labanc that beats Binnington.
The Blues would rally again with Ryan O’Reilly cutting the lead back to one just over a minute later. Erik Karlsson is taken out of the play by a Sammy Blais crosscheck/push in front of the net. David Perron’s rebound goes to O’Reilly who has more time to make a move and score because Karlsson is more out of position than he might otherwise be.
Of course, the Blues then fumble the game back to the Sharks as Colton Parayko makes a terrible play at his own blue line, giving the Sharks the turnover. Timo Meier gets the puck with speed and beats Jay Bouwmeester before making a highlight reel move on Binnington.
Meier would score again about seven minutes later, putting the game all but out of reach. This goal should never happen. Watch the video and see all of the Blues who appear to be on controller disconnect, gliding into the defensive zone. There is no urgency in them on this play and Meier uses it to his advantage, banking the puck into the net off Dunn.
Tyler Bozak would score a goal with seven minutes left before Couture would add an empty net goal.
In reviewing the game, the Blues shot themselves in the foot. Pietrangelo struggled on a couple of the goals and Parayko made a mental error that led to another. So three of the five non-empty net goals were a direct result of defensive miscues and another was the 5 on 3 power play goal. The Blues have to play smarter and simpler in their own end and show more urgency across the board.
Again, the best Blues were Jaden Schwartz and Robert Thomas. I would add Sammy Blais in that group as well.
Carl Gunnarsson is getting closer to returning but is expected to be out still tonight.
In the last two series matchups with the Blues and Sharks, the winner of Game 1 lost the series.
NHL Champions for Charity Playoff Edition
In what I hope becomes a Hockeybuzz tradition, Hockeybuzz Sharks blogger Steve Palumbo
and I placed a wager on the series. If the Blues win, Steve has agreed to make a donation to the Gateway Area Multiple Sclerosis Society
(@mssociety on twitter) whose mission is help each person affected by MS in St. Louis address the challenges of living with MS. They help by raising funds for cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education and providing programs and services that empower people with MS and their families to move their lives forward. If the Sharks win, I will donate to the Hydrocephalus Association
(@HydroAssoc on twitter) whose mission is to connect individuals to larger communities that can provide support and understanding, to educate national and state policymakers, the medical community, and the general population, and to advance treatment and eventually find a cure for Hydrocephalus.
I hope that our wagers will inspire players and fans to pledge donations for each win their team makes in the NHL playoffs.
NHL Champions for Charity Regular Season
Given that the Predators pulled out the division title, all be it not without some controversial officiating in the last couple of games, Best Buddies Tennessee https://www.bestbuddies.org/tennessee/
is the beneficiary. Best Buddies Tennessee is dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a side note, I recently got to experience a Best Buddies even in the St. Louis area that was led by the Eureka high school football team. It was a lot of fun and brought a lot of joy to those involved.
It’s a great day for hockey.