(Photo Credit: John Hefti-USAToday)
Gameday was interesting, to say the least.
Moments before the game, Blues fans found out that Carter Hutton had sustained a neck injury and that he wouldn’t be playing. It’s been said that he was seen stretching after the morning skate and that he may have looked uncomfortable. No one expected him to be sidelined though. He couldn’t even serve as the backup. As of right now, there is not any information on Carter’s injury.
Jake Allen was given the start Thursday night in San Jose, and St. Louis called on an emergency goaltender. Ben Wexler has played 3 years at the University of Illinois. He wore the number 85 and helped to warm the Blues up before the game. He signed a one day contract to be the backup goaltender for a game.
23-year old Goalie prospect, Ville Husso, was recalled but was unable to meet with the team on such short notice. However, he will be joining the Blues tonight in Los Angeles. Husso has played for the San Antonio Rampage all season. He holds a 13-11-5 record, 2.39 goals against average, and .926 save percentage in the AHL. He’ll be the #2 goaltender while Carter Hutton is hurt.
Forward Line Combinations
There was a different look Thursday as Vladimir Sobotka was given an opportunity to play the left wing on the first line. He was partnered with center-iceman, Ivan Barbashev, and right wing, Vladimir Tarasenko. I personally don’t agree with this recipe at all. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. As dynamic as #91 is, he needs to play alongside capable play-makers to be effective.
Alexander Steen was slotted in on the 3rd line right wing across from Patrik Berglund who took the right side. Kyle Brodziak, originally the 4th line center, moved up to the 3rd line as well. The 4th unit consisted of wingers, Nikita Soshnikov and Tage Thompson and was centered by Oscar Sundqvist. This is another combination that I dislike. I want to see Thompson play minutes.
Dimitrij Jaskin played the right wing alongside center, Brayden Schenn, and left wing, Jaden Schwartz on the second line. To be honest, I’d rather see Dimitrij on the 4th line, and Tage on the 2nd. I think I speak for many Blues fans when I point that out. Tage needs to be put in the right situations to succeed. Jaskin is simply not going to improve. He has reached his plateau.
Defense Wasn’t An Issue
Jay Bouwmeester‘s hip injury has forced the Blues to bring in a new body. Also, Joel Edmundson isn’t 100% ready to return. He is, however, absorbing contact as of now and we should see him soon. For this game and until Edmundson’s return, we have Jordan Schmaltz filling in. For the most part, Jordan played a decent game in San Jose, but Blues fans are still itching to get Edmundson back.
Overall, I was alright with the defense in this game. I felt they were doing a good job pushing the puck to the outside. They were letting Jake Allen see pucks. The Blues defense played responsibly in my opinion, and that was one positive that I take from the game. However, I will say that many of the Blues shots from the point weren’t getting through last night.
St. Louis forwards had a very difficult time in the offensive zone. There were too many turnovers in this game for the Blues. The transition play was under par, and the forecheck was weak. It was a task to get into the zone, and it was nearly impossible to stay there and create opportunities.
Unfortunately, the Blues were held to just 16 shots on goal throughout this entire contest. There were 4 shots on net in the 1st period, and only 2 shots on goal in the 3rd period to be exact. The second was their more effective frame getting 10 pucks to Martin Jones.
If you’ve talked a lot of trash on Jake Allen, last night was a performance that simply shut you up, right? I mean he was fantastic. While the Blues couldn’t get going at all, Jake was making save after save to keep them in this game. This has been the story of his season. Very little goal support.
Allen saved 34 of 35 shots. It was just great to see him in the zone, playing like his old self. He’s received so much negativity from the fan base lately and it has to have messed with his head. How wouldn’t it? Anyway, he looked extremely confident and regardless of the loss, he certainly made Blues fans proud last night.
After a lackluster performance by the forwards, Jake was pulled for the extra attacker with 1:40 remaining. Tomas Hertl capitalized on an empty-netter to seal the deal for San Jose. The only goal that Jake Allen allowed was a power-play goal by Mikkel Boedker, and he may have been screened by Robert Bortuzzo.
The San Jose power-play goal actually came as a result of a bad call. Kyle Brodziak was sent to the box for holding Evander Kane‘s stick, but the replay clearly showed that wasn’t the case at all. Brodziak was clearly upset. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Sometimes it makes or breaks a game. There are no excuses for this particular game in my opinion though.
Martin Jones was named the 1st star of the game as he registered the shutout, but I believe that Jake Allen is your first star regardless of the result. Jake held a .971 save percentage for the game. He stood on his head all night and probably played one of his best games in months in my opinion. There was every chance to get going and win this game. You have to score to win. It’s hockey.
I am very disappointed in the St. Louis Blues forwards right now, and I’m honestly a bit fed up with Head Coach Mike Yeo’s judgment. I understand that he’s being forced to make uncomfortable decisions, but I think he’s just trying to spread the players out a little too much. I agree with Kyle Brodziak playing up and down the lineup, but I do not agree with Dimitrij Jaskin playing on the second line while Tage Thompson barely plays in the game.
Things are a mess right now and I think that it’s time we put some of the heat on the coaches. These players don’t seem to be very excited to play hockey. I’m not suggesting that Coach Mike Yeo should be fired. I am simply stating that Blues fans have put the blame everywhere else. Why not question the real leaders of this team?