St. Louis Blues: Powerplay Earns Blues Their First Win Of 2016-17

The St. Louis Blues took on their bitter rival the Chicago Blackhawks to open 2016-17. It could not have gone much better for the good guys.

The day we waited for all summer came and went. The St. Louis Blues could not have done much more to reward their fans for their patience.

The Blues opened the 2016-17 campaign with a win. Not just a win, but a win against their chief rival and likely competitor for playoff positioning.

It wasn’t always the prettiest and some of the fears we had coming into the year were there in spurts. Nevertheless, it was a good win overall and a good way to start the season.

Quick Review

The Blackhawks got things going in the first period. The Blues took a silly penalty away from the play, allowing Chicago a powerplay.

St. Louis failed to secure the draw after an offside call on the Blues pulled the faceoff into their zone. Richard Panik made the Blues pay by slotting one in for the 1-0 lead.

The Blues powerplay went to work from there. Kevin Shattenkirk scored to knot the game up at a goal apiece a little under five minutes into the second period.

The Blues made another mistake to lead to the Hawks’ second goal. On a play you see ten times a game, Robert Bortuzzo just flung the puck to the far side in a clearing attempt.

What he did not see was the Blackhawk player waiting right at the blueline for it. Chicago cycled it around the net and found an unmarked man in front who chipped it just over the stick and under the legs on Jake Allen.

That goal came around the 14 minute mark of the second. The Blues were not down for long.

The Blackhawks were called for five penalties in a row. In the midst of all those penalties, the Blues powerplay struck again.

This time it was Vladimir Tarasenko sniping the goal. His first of the season gave the Blues a 2-2 score and with another penalty on the way, the team kept it’s 5 v 3 advantage.

The Blues began the third period with a powerplay. They did not score on that, but they did add another powerplay goal just 55 seconds into the frame when Paul Stastny banged home a rebound.

The Blues had some nervy moments later in the game. The officials evened out some calls, giving the Blackhawks a few too many powerplays for comfort.

Still, the Blues hung on. Tarasenko got an empty net goal after an embarrassing miss by Stastny.

The Blues, or rather the Blackhawks, rubbed salt in the wound with what in soccer would be called an own goal. A strange back pass went underneath Patrick Kane‘s stick and into their own net. Scottie Upshall would get credit, since there are no own goals in hockey.

Overview

This was not a perfect performance by the Blues by any means.

There were a few too many giveaways that led to chances. An in-form opponent would likely make the Blues pay more.

There are always going to be penalties we don’t like throughout the year. However, when they don’t even come near the puck or near a dangerous area, it’s just a little too much to handle.

Allen played well, but also looked a little nervy. The uninitiated will say he should have had better rebound control on the first goal, but there was very little he could do about any of the goals.

That said, he just had a look about him that seemed a bit uneasy. In his defense, as quickly as Chicago moves the puck, it’s hard to look smooth and calm in your movements.

It was not a game to write home about. 17 saves on 19 shots got the job done and that’s all the Blues could ask for at this point.

The powerplay was an unexpected surprise. They finished 2015-16 converting a little over 21%.

It is completely unrealistic to think the Blues will stay anywhere near 60% (3-5). Still, the fact they got off to such a hot start could bode well.

On an individual basis, there weren’t a ton of names that stuck out. Tarasenko, clearly, for the two goals, but nobody else jumped off the screen.  It was also nice to see Stastny pick up three points, even though he made a hash of that empty netter.

David Perron was a little too quiet offensively, but actually performed quite adequately on the penalty kill. Nail Yakupov was in the same category, though he got off a couple decent shots.

Overall, it was just a solid team performance. Outside of the handful of mistakes, the team played well as a whole and helped each other out when one had a misstep.

Looking Forward

No rest for the weary. It’s on a quick flight home tonight and taking on the rested Minnesota Wild.

The Blues will need to keep the offense flowing to win. Devan Dubnyk is an early Vezina candidate.

Personally, I think the additions of the Wild have been overplayed in the offseason. That does not mean they might not be a better team under Bruce Boudreau.

St. Louis will have to have at least their B game and probably closer to their A. It will be interesting to see if Allen goes again or if Carter Hutton gets the goal.

For now, let’s celebrate a win over Chicago. Wins in the Windy City haven’t happened much over time, so soak it up.

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