As I said in the last Note of the Game, sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the guy in the other net. As I’m going to say in this one, sometimes that get’s really, really, old.
Tonight the St. Louis Blues dominated their opponent in virtually every category, including outshooting the Edmonton Oilers by a staggering 43-19 margin, but just like in Vancouver and Calgary it didn’t matter as the Blues couldn’t solve the opposing goaltender. This time it was Nikolai Khabibulin of the Oilers who turned away all 43 shots, and rode a series of defensive lapses by the Blues in the first two periods to an easy 3-0 win.
Jake Allen got the start for the Blues, and was hung out to dry by his defense from the beginning as the Blues inexplicably tried to play run and gun with the Oilers, which plays right in to their hands. It all started in the first period after a turnover by David Perron, who following the turnover didn’t feel the need to get back on defense, led to a 2 on 1 with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle taking on just Barrett Jackman.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQLk8RwGewU]
Hall made a beauty of a pass to Eberle who had an empty net that he didn’t miss and the Blues found themselves in a 1-0 hole. In the second period it was a combination of the Khabibulin show and more poor defensive play from the Blues that led to a 3-0 Oilers advantage that would end up as the final. While Khabibulin was busy turning away 21 2nd period Blues shots, Eberle and Hall were busy extending the Blues lead. Eberle made a fancy move in the offensive zone, and snuck one past Allen, which was probably the only goal of the game you could pin on the rookie netminder at 3:26. Under two minutes later Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway to make it a 3-0 game. Allen would get chased for Jaroslav Halak, but the point of no return had been reached.
The Blues continued to pepper Khabibulin with shots, but couldn’t find an answer for the 40 year old Russian goalie, who would end up recording his first career shutout against the Blues. The Blues have now outshot their last four opponents by an average margin of over 20 shots, and are 1-3-0 in those games. That is unaccepatable. A goalie standing on his head is one thing, but so many of these shots are being fired right into the goalie’s chest. The Blues are now inching ever so close back to the pack that is chasing the 8 spot in the West, and are once again in danger of having to fight for their playoff lives in April if they can’t turn this trend around.
Thursday night comes another game in which the Blues may face a fantastic goaltender who could stifile them at times, but one also has to think the Blues will be up for that one as it comes against their nemesis the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues have to find a way to get a win over a team they haven’t beat in their last seven tries to end this skid and get back on the winning track. The schedule is going to get tougher, and the opposing goaltenders aren’t going to get any easier. The Blues need to find their scoring touch, and they need to find it fast.
Otherwise they’ll be tipping their cap to 8 different goalies. The 8 goalies who are in the Western Conference Playoffs while the Blues are watching.