By Patrick Kelly
The fight was there, the urgency was there, but the Blues fell short again. Now down 2-0 in the series after losing to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, the Blues will have to empty the tank in order to take this series back. In all three periods, the Blues dominated 5-on-5 hockey. They had more sustained pressure than the previous games, but too many problems still reared their ugly head.
The Blues are losing too many battles, while sloppy passes and transitions have led to momentum being killed. Vladimir Tarasenko looked like he was knocking on the door the past few games, but tonight it seemed like a big step backward. Tarasenko appeared to be moving a lot slower than the play itself and on two different occasions his mistake led to a Blues chance being fumbled.
The offense isn’t the only problem. While the defense played well in spurts, and even prevented the Canucks from getting any shots for a good part of the second period, the problem is when there are lapses in coverage, especially in the slot, the Canucks have too many good players that can make you pay. Elias Pettersson showed exactly that by being able to bat in a goal and Tanner Pearson made them pay as well by sneaking into an open spot in the slot on the power play.
For Game 3, a change the Blues might look to make would be switching out Carl Gunnarsson for Robert Bortuzzo. Not only was Gunnarsson on the ice for Pearson’s goal he was also caught in the offensive zone on Bo Horvat’s game-winning goal. If the Blues want an answer to the Canucks, it starts in the defensive end, especially on the penalty kill.
The obvious debate that immediately came out of the game is who will the Blues go with in goal for the next game. Jordan Binnington has seen flashes of his normal self, but in addition to the winning goal in Game 1, he has let in some uncharacteristic goals. Head coach Craig Berube had some tough choices to make in Game 2 and it will be curious if he rides with someone else between the pipes. This is a team that showed Friday how much momentum can swing things. If the Blues had won the game, Zach Sanford’s fight would have been the momentum boost looked at. Regardless of who the Blues go with, they will have to come out firing and a good start would be getting the first goal of the game.