The St. Louis Blues entered the United Center in great shape. They had won three in a row and four of their last five, earning a point in all of those games as well. The Blues have also gone 6-0-1 in their last seven against their rival.
You just never know what you’re going to get when you face the Chicago Blackhawks. Even with their inexperience on the blue line, they are still strong on offense.
Overall, the Blues just seemed off. Jordan Kyrou had two good chances, including a breakaway, in the first 10 minutes and got nothing.
The Blackhawks edged the Blues for much of Game 1. Part of that was a reluctance to shoot, exemplified by the fact that Kyrou didn’t even manage to shoot that breakaway.
Another proof of the strangeness of this game at the start was the scoring chances. At one point, Chicago was leading the shots 9-4, but the Blues were leading the chances 6-3. Thus, the Blackhawks became more on target, but the Blues were more threatening, even if they missed the net.
Nonetheless, Binnington looked good overall. He stopped a Grade A chance in Kirby Dash with no one around to help.
We spent the whole first half without a goal. This match had the makings of a duel between goalkeepers.
That seemed especially true in the second half. The Blues had several chances to score, but Marc-Andre Fleury had the answer almost every time – almost.
St. Louis scored the first goal just over two minutes into the period. Jordan Kyrou completed a tic-tac-toe play to punish the Blackhawks for not clearing the puck.
That’s when the Chicago goaltender looked like he was going to crack down. The Blues had a breakaway and a few odd runs and Fleury had a way of stopping them all.
Despite being stoned time and time again, the Blues kept going. Once they started rolling they were hard to stop.
hing\\\\\nAfter a playoff win, the Blues got their second at 6:56 of the period. Blackhawks defense just watched Pavel Buchnevich go goal line to split and roof one.
Just over 11 minutes later, David Peron would get one. The Blues circled the triangle three times before going from wide to close and Perron scored one on the power play for a 3-0 lead.
The fourth goal was somewhat disappointing. Perron just swept it to the net on the goal side and somehow he got past Fleury for a 4-0 score.
The Blues keep the pressure on. Fleury begins to be frustrated by his defenders for the quality of the chances they give themselves.
Conversely, even though Chicago has kept pace with St. Louis in shot count, they haven’t challenged as much. In the end, the Blues couldn’t get the hat trick from Perron, but a 4-0 win over your rival will do.
Perron has never been the epitome of consistency, but this season he has been particularly hot and cold. Prior to this game, he had scored one goal in his last six games and two goals in his last 19 games.
Perron has scored just three goals since Oct. 28. He’s not expected to lead the team at this stage of his career, but it’s been a long stretch with few results.
He had a blast in this match. Two goals is a great performance and he could have had more.
The former was particularly enjoyable, continually, patiently rolling the puck from circle to circle and through. Once the Blues had Fleury bitten, Perron cashed in. Still, you don’t score if you don’t net it and Perron took a chance that worked.
On the radio side, Joevy Vitale pointed out that Perron is definitely a player the Blues want to showcase at the end of the season. Hopefully this is the springboard for a solid second half.
As a Blues fan, you never really encourage anything related to the Blackhawks. Some of my most hated players of all time, and probably yours, wear Chicago jerseys.
However, as a goalie, it’s hard not to marvel at what Fleury did in that game. His numbers won’t show it and the Blues didn’t set an all-time record for shots on target, but that game was close only because of Fleury.
Four or five of Fleury’s 10 saves in the second period came in the first five minutes alone. Bad defense or not, the Blues had odd rushes and partial breaks and Fleury found a way to stop them.
It was funny to watch. It was also frustrating from a Blues perspective because we’ve seen that story before.
Not as much this season, but St. Louis had a lot of games where they were the better team and lost because they couldn’t beat a hot goaltender. Until they had their second, it felt like it could happen here.
Luckily, Chicago’s defense was so bad that even a Fleury standing on his head couldn’t keep them all out.
Cons: sloppy start
The first period of this match was just very strange. The Blues just looked bad.
The thing that I discussed, and that others agreed with, is that they didn’t play badly overall. It wasn’t typical for the Blues who failed to show up in the first half.
For some reason, things just didn’t click.
This Faulk play that nearly entered his own net was a great example of that. Passing was disabled, skating seemed disabled, and only overall decision-making was irrelevant.
Luckily, the Blues weren’t completely off their game or maybe they were behind before they figured it out. It’s just one of those weird things where there was nothing to complain about, but things clearly weren’t running like an oiled machine.
It wasn’t a game Binnington needed to steal for the Blues, but it was a good game to continue to rebuild him to his potential. Coming out of a victory in Philadelphia, Binnington does not chain two victories and two very good performances.
What was good to see was the return of the goalkeeper making all the saves you want him to make and an occasional one you wouldn’t expect. Binnington wasn’t called to make the 10-bell save, but he still faced 30 shots.
Statistically, there will always be something dangerous if a team gets 30 shots on goal. Binnington kept his focus, even though there were lulls in the action, then he stayed in position and kept his angles strong and his confidence high as he challenged shooters.
If nothing else, just getting a gunfight must be good for him just for motivation. It doesn’t matter if you face one shot or 40, a goalkeeper is happy whenever he guards that goose egg.
It was a game the Blues could afford to lose, technically, but they had to win. They needed to win to keep their momentum going.
Opponents will argue that too many of those wins have come against bottom eaters. We do not care?
We tear the Blues apart when they lose to these teams, so why not congratulate them when they win and win the right way. Maybe they should have had more goals and maybe allowing 30 shots doesn’t look right on the stat sheet.
In the end, they scored four, none of which was an empty goal, and they didn’t allow a goal. It doesn’t matter if the quality of Chicago’s chances were lower. You won 4-0.
Imagine not being able to see the game and all you see is the score. If you see 4-0, you will understand that the Blues have taken care of business.
They did it. You can’t have pretty hanging goals with every win. Sometimes you need a junk lens or a gift lens.
Looking back, Montreal’s loss was good for the fans, even if not for the team. It showed us that you don’t win all of those matches, even though the leaderboard says you should.
It also puts into perspective the solidity of the Blues, winning six of their last seven games.
We can worry about not converting breakaways later, if it becomes an ongoing thing. For now, just soak up the Blackhawks misery.