Blues’ March Through Western Canada Begins With a 4-1 Win in Edmonton

The St. Louis Blues played the first of a three-game road trip when they faced off with the Edmonton Oilers and their former head coach, Ken Hitchcock Tuesday night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

They were looking for a bit of revenge after losing 3-2 in a shootout two weeks ago in St. Louis.

First Blood

In a season of Jekyll and Hyde appearances, you never know which Blues team will show up. Tonight it was an appearance by the good guys.

Early pressure by the Blues crescendoed with Oskar Sundqvist hitting the goal post on a wide-open attempt before the Blues gave up momentum by taking their 10th penalty of the season for too many men on the ice about 5 minutes into the first period. In fact, if Sunny would have scored it may not have counted as the infraction was occurring behind the play as he skated in behind the goalie.

Excluding the Calgary game, St. Louis’ penalty kill has been phenomenal lately. They have been efficient 83% of the time, good enough for 6th in the league. It’s a good thing, as this was the first of five opportunities they would give up in this one. They killed off all five, not even allowing a shot on goal in at least two of those.

Shortly after the first penalty kill, at the 8:12 mark David Perron sniped a goal over the shoulder of Cam Talbot. His wrist shot from the right face-off dot rattled off the far post and in. It was his 11th goal of the season.

All Square

Four of Edmonton’s power plays came in the second period. It seemed like the Blues were playing defense the entire period. One wondered if the Blues would ever catch a break.

Early in the period, Perron got into a scuffle at the net after a whistle and was the only one called for a penalty. Late in the period, Maroon was hit with a high stick that wasn’t called. Yet his retaliatory smack to Kevin Gravel‘s stick was noticed.

In between all of that, Jesse Puljujarvi beat Jake Allen on a wrist shot at the 7:25 mark to knot things up at 1-1. Craig Berube challenged the zone entry prior to the goal as being offsides. It was not and the Blues served another penalty as a result.

The period ended with Edmonton on the power play for the final 1 minute and 36 seconds. Joel Edmundson‘s attempt to clear the puck resulted in a souvenir for a fan and a delay of game call on #6. The score remained 1-1 going to the 2nd intermission.

Home Stretch

The final period began with the final 24 seconds of the last Edmonton power play. They managed no shots on goal. They did hit 3 posts on the night and the most dangerous one caromed off Jake’s backside before being cleared by Edmundson. A good break for a change!

The Blues marched the other direction quickly, led by Robert Thomas and followed by Tyler Bozak and Pat Maroon. Taking the puck right to the net, a pileup resulted and the puck disappeared. Bozak signaled that the puck was in.

After a lengthy review, it was determined that it was a goal and was credited to Maroon. It was his 2nd of the season.

Vladimir Tarasenko broke a scoring drought with his 10th goal of the season at the 11:43 mark to make it 3-1. Placing him on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn was a good move as he has not been productive for some reason with Ryan O’Reilly.

Our own, Ray Standefer pointed this out in an article earlier this week. See his insightful story here:

Split up Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.

Berube must read Blues Rants too because the move paid off. Tarasenko was getting shots on goal and looked like the Vladi we all love to watch do hockey.

The Icing

Schwartz added an empty net goal to seal the deal. Shots on goal were 30-23 in favor of the Blues. Quite an accomplishment given all of the power plays they allowed. It was a solid effort. Not perfect, but solid.

My Thoughts and Observations

  • To borrow a word from Coach Berube’s presser last week, too many men penalties are just “stupid”. Come on, guys.
  • The team we saw tonight was the team we like to watch. They had some pep in their step. They were quick to pucks. Their gaps were tight. Case in point. Superstar, Connor McDavid only managed 1 shot on goal in 23:42 minutes of ice time. He did hit a crossbar or two, but still. To hold that guy to one shot on goal was stellar.
  • The Blues had some defensive zone turnovers, yet they didn’t allow them to turn into goals. They seemed to recover well and support each other throughout the game.
  • As I mentioned above, Vladi looked better. A little change of linemate scenery may have been the trick. Let’s hope so.
  • That fourth line of Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev and Jordan Nolan is doing their job well. Sunny and Barbie have some good chemistry as they have been together most of the season. I’m happy for those two guys. They are working hard and getting scoring chances.
  • Jake was solid tonight behind a good defensive effort and made a couple of big saves when he needed to. It was a good bounce back from Sunday’s game.
  • The Blues have a chance at redemption again on Thursday in Vancouver and Saturday in Calgary. Can they put three wins together? We shall see. Let’s go Blues!
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