From the time that Vladimir Tarasenko returned to the lineup on March 6, and up until Monday night’s 4-1 win over Colorado, the Blues were begging for goals from some of their biggest guns, only to watch them shoot blanks.
In just over 1,300 minutes of action collectively at all strengths, David Perron, Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas combined for eight goals in 21 games. And in a little more than 1,100 minutes collectively at even strength the same three players had four combined goals. Two by Perron, two from Tarasenko.
But with the Blues defeating the Avs for the second consecutive game, Perron, Tarasenko, Schenn and Thomas laced up the skates and found the scoring touch. All four players scored a goal in the 4-1 victory. Perron did more by dishing two assists.
Yes. Four goals in 64 combined minutes in one game.
That, after eight goals in 1,300 combined minutes over 21 games.
Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Avs, was the Ryan O’Reilly Show, with the captain piling up three goals and an assist. Mike Hoffman scored the winning goal in that one. Schenn contributed two assists. Defenseman Torey Krug had three assists in the two wins over the Avs. No, Jaden Schwartz didn’t get on the board in either triumph. But no one is claiming that the Blues are perfect and fully restored.
But this was a positive and overdue development, to have established stars and a promised star (Thomas) lead the way in a two-game uprising that slowed the Avalanche and lifted St. Louis back into fourth place in the West. The Blues lead Arizona by a point for the division’s final playoff spot.
I don’t know where the Blues will go from here — other than to Minnesota for the next three games. But were the two dubyas over Colorado something concrete, something to build on? Or was this just another tease that leads to another round of misplaced optimism and deflated hopes?
It’s down to this: The cuckoo Blues have 10 regular-season games remaining to define themselves, once and for all. If you are skeptical, the feeling is justified. But as the Blues enter the final stretch, a loose-screw season just became more intriguing.
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Jordan Binnington was fantastic in the two straight wins over Colorado, obstructing the Avs’ high-powered offense with a .936 save percentage overall, and a .981 save percentage at even strength. During the two games Binnington faced 20 high-danger shots and repelled 19. This was quite the contrast to Avs goalies Devan Dubnyk (Saturday’s game) and Jonas Johansson (Monday.) They combined for an overall .836 save percentage (.857 at even strength) and allowed three goals on 11 high-danger shots.
It was nice of San Jose to give the Blues some assistance by slapping down Arizona by a 6-4 count Monday. Playing with six rookies in the lineup, the Sharks scored only 17 seconds into the game, stretched the lead to 4-0, and held up under a Coyotes comeback. The two teams will clash again Wednesday night in San Jose before Arizona returns home to host Vegas for two games.
Cardinals icon Albert Pujols, 41, has slammed four homers for the Angels in his last seven games and is slugging .460 for the season. Pujols has 667 career homers, ranking fifth all-time behind Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) … lefty starter Austin Gomber — who went to the Rockies in the trade for Nolan Arenado — had a rough Monday start at San Francisco, getting crushed for seven hits, four walks, and nine earned runs while retiring only five batters. The pasting left Gomber with a 6.65 ERA on the season, but he’s been good in three of his five starts.
Tough Monday night for Our Town’s Bradley Beal who scored 45 points only to have his Washington Wizards fall to visiting San Antonio, 146-143 in overtime. The loss stopped Washington’s eight-game winning streak. Beal has scored 40+ points in a game six times this season, with the Wizards inexplicably losing five of the six. Beal missed a 3-point shot at the horn that would have tied the game. But he reclaimed the NBA scoring lead from Golden State’s Stephen Curry. Beal is averaging 31.4 points per game, just a feather ahead of Curry’s 31.3. The loss left the Wizards at 27-34, but they are a game ahead of Toronto and Chicago for 10th place and the final spot in the Easten Conference play-in tournament.
AROUND THE NL CENTRAL
— Milwaukee starting pitcher Corbin Burnes extended his season-opening streak 49 strikeouts and no walks Monday night but got pounded for the first time this season, making his exit during a four-run sixth inning in the Crew’s 8-0 loss to visiting Miami. After giving up only eight hits and one run over 24⅓ innings in his first four starts, Burnes was pelted for eight hits and five runs (four earned) in his five-plus innings against the Marlins. His ERA jumped from 0.37 to 1.53 … Milwaukee is 4-6 at home this season and 9-3 on the road … former Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is 10 for 17 with three doubles, a steal and a homer since returning from the IL four games ago.
— Cincinnati: after getting swept in St. Louis and heading to Los Angeles with a seven-game losing streak, the Reds got a boost with a 5-3 win over the Dodgers in 10 innings Monday. The Reds took advantage of a beat-up LA team that was left drained by an intense seven-game battle with the rival San Diego Padres.
— The victory prompted more trash talk from the hopelessly cocky Reds. Despite his team having lost 11 of their last 15 games, Reds reliever Tejay Antone actually said this after the victory over the Dodgers: “We expect to win these games. “We know we’re a good team. We know when we click that we’re better than the Dodgers. We know that. It’s just about expressing it and it’s about executing when we’re on the field.”
The Reds are better than the Dodgers? Oh. OK.
— Reds shortstop Eugenio Suárez is 2 for 40 with 18 strikeouts in his last nine games … with a .283 onbase this April, Reds first baseman Joey Votto could finish with an OBP below .300 in a month for the first time since July 2014.
–Cubs: Veteran starting pitcher Zach Davies was sent to Chicago as part of the salary-dump trade that delivered Yu Darvish for San Diego. Davis is off to a terrible start for the Cubs. Monday he was popped for five earned runs in 3.2 innings in his team’s 8-7 loss to Atlanta. His ERA was jacked to 9.47. Since going 5.2 innings in his first start of the season, Davies hasn’t made it past the fourth in subsequent outings. Except for Jake Arrieta the Cubs rotation is coming up short on innings; a Cubs starter has reached the seventh inning only one time this season …Kris Bryant smashed a grand slam homer Monday; he already has more extra-base hits this season (13) than he did all of last season in 13 fewer games.
–Pirates: It’s a surprise-team party in Pittsburgh this week, with the 14-7 Kansas City Royals playing the 11-11 Pirates in a quick two-game series that opens Tuesday night. After a day off Thursday, the Pirates will host the Cardinals in a three-game weekend series at PNC … outfielder Bryan Reynolds hit .314 as a rookie in 2019, slumped to .189 in the short-schedule 2020, and has rebounded for a good start to 2021. The switch-hitting Reynolds is batting .304 with a .402 OBP and .456 slug. He has six doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs.
Thanks for reading…
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