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Blues’ Comeback Falls Short, Red Wings Prevail 4-3

(photo credit Raj Mehta – USA Today Sports)

The OOOH’S and AAAH’S of Being a Blues Fan

What seemed like a great comeback turned out to be a big disappointment when the Blues rallied from a 3-goal deficit to tie the Detroit Red Wings, only to give up a late goal and lose 4-3.

Despite how good they looked during the 15 to 20-minute spurt where they scored 3 unanswered goals, the Blues looked equally as bad before and after that. The same storyline that has plagued the team thus far was still evident in this game. They turned the puck over too many times and missed their defensive assignments on all 4 Detroit goals. Too often, as you’ll see in the screenshots later in this story, guys were just standing around watching the puck go in the net.

First Period

There were no goals in the first period. The Blues had very few chances. Detroit outshot them 15-4 in the period. Detroit had a power play but failed to score.

In the final seconds of the period, a shot by Niklas Kronwall deflected off the body of Jay Bouwmeester and hit the crossbar but didn’t go in. My first thought was, “With all the bad breaks Bouwmeester and the Blues have gotten, maybe this is the turning point. Maybe the team’s luck has changed and we will start winning.” My hopes were dashed.

Second Period

Four minutes and 22 seconds into the 2nd period Thomas Vanek put the Red Wings on the board.    

Here you see Vanek low in the slot in front of the St. Louis goal. Parayko is with his man behind the goal who just made the centering pass. Sundqvist is engaging his man to the right of the goal. Dunn is defending in front of the net.
In this shot, Vanek is about to receive the pass. You can see here that Dunn has allowed too much space for him, allowing him to get off an uncontested shot.
Now the shot is headed toward the net. Steen reached for the puck with his stick. Dunn goes down on one knee. The puck goes off the right post over the glove of Jake Allen.

To me, it looks like this is a missed assignment by Vince Dunn. He fails to find Vanek in a very dangerous area in front of the net. He allows too much space and cannot make an effort to alter or prevent the shot. All he can do is take a defensive position after the shot is taken. 1-0 Red Wings.

Red Wings’ 2nd Goal

Just 2 minutes and 55 seconds later, Andreas Athanasiou makes it 2-0 on another goal from the slot. The Detroit possession started with a turnover by Alex Pietrangelo in the Blues defensive zone. Here’s the breakdown of the second goal.

At the beginning of the play, you see the puck is in the corner (black circle). Allen is on the post because of the location of the puck. The goalscorer is circled in red. Dunn is engaged with his man in front of the net. Pietrangelo is the weak side defender (green arrow) and Robert Thomas is also in the picture (blue arrow).
The goalscorer now has the puck in the slot and is taking the shot. Thomas (blue arrow) is too far and cannot challenge. Pietrangelo was covering the player in the corner. Thomas loses track of Athanasiou in the slot. He cannot close the gap to contest the shot. Allen is still on the post as the shot is being taken.
In this picture, you can see how wide open the net was for Athanasiou. You can be the judge as to who should have been covering the man in front, but to me it’s a mistake by Thomas. Jake also looks out of position.

The NBC announcers said that Jake Allen was overcommitted to his left on this play. From the last photo above, I’d have to agree with them. He was on the post until the pass was centered. I’m not sure how he gets so far outside of his crease and to his left on this play, but some fault needs to go on him here.

The Red Wings’ 3rd Goal

Less than 4 minutes later, the barrage continued with Tyler Bertuzzi scoring in close and giving the Red Wings a 3-0 lead. Just prior to the goal it looked to me like the officials missed a call for too many men on the ice. What do you think? I know that some leeway is given for guys entering and exiting the ice. What you see in the photo below may be acceptable. It was in this instance, and the Red Wings got fresh legs on the ice and took advantage of the opportunity.

None the less, here’s how the goal unfolded.

Here the puck is in the faceoff circle to Jake Allen’s left. (black circle) The pass will go to the center of the ice in the high slot (black arrow). The eventual goalscorer is Bertuzzi just to the left of the net (red circle). The person responsible for him is Robert Thomas who is closest to him.

As the shot is taken by Green in front of the net (black circle) you see Bertuzzi (red circle) in position for the rebound. Thomas (blue arrow) has circled away from Bertuzzi and is not in a position to defend.

Now the puck is in the net. Bertuzzi is left all alone in front to knock the rebound in out of mid-air. The reason I have drawn black circles around the Blues players is to show that 3 of the 5 look like they are just standing there watching.

The Comeback

You have to give the Blues credit. They fought back. They drew a couple of penalties and capitalized with two power-play goals. The first one was a beautiful goal by David Perron as he skated around 2 Detroit defenders and flipped the puck over Jimmy Howard from the goal line, a near impossible angle. It was his 7th goal of the season.

Just about 1 1/2 minutes later it was Vladimir Tarasenko with his 8th goal on the year to make the score 3-2. Vladi’s goal was a snipe from the right side faceoff dot on a nice feed from Ryan O’Reilly.

The last 10 minutes of the period was all St. Louis. The momentum had definitely turned. The Blues outshot Detriot 15-1 in the final 8:56 of the period.

Third Period

St. Louis kept up the offensive pressure in the third and had several good scoring chances. At one point it seemed like they had nearly 2 minutes of sustained offensive pressure in the Detroit d-zone. Finally at the 8:04 mark, Perron cleaned up a loose puck near the goal and tied the game at 3-3 with his 2nd goal of the night and 8th of the season.

The Dagger

The lead didn’t last. Bertuzzi got his 2nd goal of the game at the 13:07 mark.

In this photo, the puck is in front. You see 2 Red Wings fighting for it and 3 Blues defenders around the puck. What they don’t see is Bertuzzi (red circle) who had slipped around behind the goal and behind the defense.
The rebound comes off the Jake Allen’s right and falls right at the feet of Bertuzzi. Once again, there are 3 or 4 Blues standing and watching a Red Wing player put the puck in the net.

St. Louis took a penalty for too many men on the ice at the 15:28 mark, but then got one back when Alex Steen drew a tripping penalty on Vanek. The teams played 4 on 4 hockey for a minute and a half and then the Blues had a 30-second power play.

Coach Craig Berube pulled Allen with about 1:40 left to go. The Blues forced 2 or 3 faceoffs in their offensive zone but couldn’t find another goal to force the game to overtime.  Detroit held on for the 4-3 win.

My Thoughts

  • It looked like the Blues played about 20 minutes or so of good hockey in this one. I’m not sure where their heads were for the other 40 minutes.
  • There were a lot of guys standing around tonight when pucks were being buried in the net behind Jake Allen.
  • David Perron seemed like a man on a mission tonight. There was a fire burning in his belly. His first goal was “highlight reel” material. And his second was from sheer determination. He would have been the last guy I would have put in the penalty box at the end of the game for the bench penalty, even though he doesn’t normally play on the penalty kill, I would have kept him on the ice.
  • It was good to see the boys fight back. The last thing you’d want to see would be for them to quit and lose 4-0 or worse. However, it was a game that I felt like they could have won.
  • What puzzles me is this: In post-game interviews, you hear them say, “We just weren’t ready to play tonight. We need to bring the kind of energy we did against Nashville.” etc.  So, if the guys doing the interviews are the same ones who are playing the games and they know this, why does it keep happening?
  • I still have hope that this team can and will pull it together and go on a run. Call me the eternal optimist. But at the same time, I feel sorry for guys like Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and David Perron who seem to want to win so bad and they play so hard only to have teammates making mistakes and letting their team down. Come on boys! Let’s get it together! Let’s go Blues!
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Tim Hirsch

I am a lifelong resident of Du Quoin, IL and have been a Blues fan since as long as I can remember. I do a game recap after every Blues game and am a staff writer for BluesRants.com.

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