The Edmonton Oilers finally had enough.
Winless in St. Louis since 2009, and 2-11 the last 13 meetings, the Oilers crashed the party Tuesday night when their version of the “kid line” scored eight points and all three goals in the game. The Blues tried to bully Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle all night but the Oil answered back.
The Oilers continued their valiant comeback effort against Nashville on Tuesday by getting physical with the Blues from the start. Eberle ran over Barret Jackman to set the tempo, and captain David Backes had his bell rung by Ryan Jones. The Oilers aren’t supposed to run anybody over — especially a team that prides itself on physicality like the Blues. Sure, St. Louis out-hit Edmonton 22-to-14 but by the time the home team threw their weight around, it was a three goal deficit.
St. Louis has dropped two straight and three of four. Since starting 6-1, they’re 11-12-2. Home ice hasn’t been exactly friendly either; the Blues are 8-6-1 at home. St. Louis plays careless and sloppy in the critical areas which turn into odd-man rush goals. Defensemen try getting fancy instead of the smart but more conservative dump in. This team isn’t the high-flying Mighty Ducks — that’s Hollywood, this is the NHL.
Ken Hitchcock said before the game, “we are a lot like Edmonton but probably a year older.” What? Edmonton is full of youthful speed including three first overall draft picks. The Blues are built with bruisers, who win games by out working opponents for 60 minutes. A track meet game with Edmonton is a terrible match up. This is why the Blues have the most success against a team like San José. Their young, but the physicality aspect is what scare opponents…not David Perron’s stick handling.
Speaking of Perron, what is the deal? He’s a minus-4 at home, and his worst games have come against the Oilers. His inability to get the puck deep led to Edmonton’s first goal.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 43 shots, but most came from low percentage, perimeter areas. He best efforts came against Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen, and Perron on legit scoring chances. The Blues couldn’t finish and got blanked by another hot goaltender. Work harder and perhaps 43 shots will actually have some merit.
The Blues power play once hovered around 30%. It’s dropped to 22.1% after a 4-for-51 slump. The unit has one PP goal in seven games. Ales Hemsky took a minor penalty giving the Blues a golden opportunity just 25 seconds into the 2nd period when it was only 1-0, but Edmonton killed it off. St. Louis ended 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
The combined 41 goals scored by Backes and Jason Arnott last season. Both provided traffic in front of the net deflecting rifles from Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Backes has three goals this season. Shattenkirk hasn’t registered a point in seven games. Pietrangelo is a minus-5 for the year and has zero points his last five games. It’s a trickle down effect.
I’d like to see St. Louis regain some defensive mojo. Win a game the way they compiled 109 points last season. Block shots, play conservative, and attack when the opponent is vulnerable. Ease off the gas pedal in the offensive zone because the talent doesn’t match the style. The last time I checked there is no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin on board. Rededicate to the fundamentals and start winning games against bottom-feeders like Calgary and Edmonton.
The time is now, because with only 16 games remaining, the Blues may find themselves at home before the Playoffs begin in late April.