The coroner is in. Let us regale the tragic tale of the St. Louis Blues.
The skinny: Let’s not kid ourselves here: this series ended the only way it could. St. Louis had a fine team, but they were the clear fourth team in a division that held a three-headed monster at the top of the mountain. Whether they drew Colorado or Vegas, it felt like a matter of time until the inevitable happened.
Sure enough, the deed was done quickly. The Avalanche war machine dominated the series, giving the Blues their first sweep since 2012 and pushing the miracle Stanley Cup run in 2019 further into the distance. So how did this all happen? Let’s go through the three primary factors.
Injuries: It feels like a cheap excuse, but there’s no question injuries played a key part in the Blues’ demise. Chief among them was leading scorer David Perron, who missed the entire series due to being on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Justin Faulk missed the rest of the series from Game 2 on after a nasty hit from known playoff headhunter Nazem Kadri (Kadri was suspended eight games for the hit, but he is currently in the appealing process). Defensive corps mainstays Vince Dunn, Robert Bortuzzo, and Jake Walman also missed games during the series. Injuries can decimate a team and, against a quality opponent in Colorado, that’s exactly what happened to the Blues.
Stars going silent: It wasn’t much better for the players that were on the ice, either. Captain Ryan O’Reilly, who publicly stated that the Blues would win the series, would end up lambasting his own performance after failing to score in the series. Offensive stalwarts like Brayden Schenn, Jordan Kyrou, and Mike Hoffman would each find the back of the net, but only once apiece. To put the offensive output into perspective, the Blues scored 20 points as a team; the Avalanche’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen combined for 23. When a single line is dominating the series and running circles around your own stars, you can’t expect to win.
Jordan Binnington: Binnington might not be nervous, but Blues fans might be starting to get that way about their new franchise netminder. Ever since being one of the main catalysts of the Blues’ magical 2019 season and Cup win, he hasn’t won a single playoff game since. After a miserable series where he mustered a 3.59 GAA and .899 save percentage, Binnington has gone 0-9-0 with a .875 save percentage. The most fight he showed against Avs goaltender Philipp Grubauer was trying to start a fight with him after Game 1 (a moment Grubauer would poke fun at after the sweep). Blues fans need to hope he can rebound within the next six seasons of his new contract, or this will be familiar territory for them.
The crystal ball: You can’t expect a humiliating defeat like this to pass by without some changes, and the Blues are in the mix to do just that. Mike Hoffman will parlay his season into a contract with a Cup contender. Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak have likely played their final games in Blues uniforms as well. Dunn could be an attractive candidate to be selected by Seattle in the expansion draft, with the hopes of him becoming their version of Nate Schmidt. It wouldn’t be much, but it would give the Blues a chance to get their roster in order and bring in some new blood (ahem, Scott Perunovich, ahem).
However, there is a massive question that can be asked: what will the Blues do about Vladimir Tarasenko? Sure, the Russian winger still has his offensive chops (he got both of the Blues’ goals in Game 4), but he’s only played 34 games over the last two seasons. The best ability is availability, and Tarasenko hasn’t been successful in that department recently. They could conceivably put him up in the Expansion Draft, or open him up to trade to see if someone will take a shot. It would be a massive shakeup to the Blues roster, but maybe that’s what they need.
2 thoughts on “Postseason Postmortem: St. Louis Blues”
Only one thing left to do as a Rangers fan.
Come back of the century Go Habs Go!!