The Blues lost a game, and the city weeps today.

Not really, but it ain’t much fun to lose to the Colorado Avalanche. The final score Thursday night at Enterprise Center was 4-3.

“In life, the monsters win.” — George R R Martin

Damn right.

But at least the Blues are 5-1 on the campaign, and are tied with Minnesota for the division lead with 10 points.

I’m Rolling Four Lines…


Problems With Math: I don’t know how the Blues lost by a goal. They should have lost by three or four goals, because Colorado dominated them.

— The Avs had 24 more shots on goal (42-18) overall, and outshot the Blues 34-17 at five-on-five.

— In high-danger chances at five-on-five, the tally was Avalanche 12, Blues 0. Overall, it was 14-1.

— The Avs had five power plays, and had 8 minutes and 17 seconds of PP ice time. The Blues had one crummy power play and only 1:38 of PP time.

This should have been a blowout. But not only did the Blues lose by a goal, they were even with the Avs 3-3 at five-on-five. That’s hard to do considering that the Avs triggered 52 shots towards the net at five-on-five compared to only 32 for St. Louis. That’s a 62.3 percent advantage for the visitors.


Officiating As Comedy: The on-ice officials were, shall we say, about as accurate as backup Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. That’s no excuse, because the Blues were outplayed in just about every area.

But the 17 minutes in penalties slapped on Blues defenseman Justin Faulk — after his bout with the Avalanche head-hunter Nazem Kadri — was excessive. Sure, Faulk was settling an old score from Kadri’s disgustingly dirty head shot that knocked Faulk out of last season’s first-round playoff series. This never happens in hockey, right?

The sequence began less than a minute into the game. Faulk didn’t mug Kadri from behind or attack Kadri in the cowardly manner that Kadri is known for — usually from the blind side when they’re vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.

Faulk pinned Kadri along the boards, and Kadri fell. Faulk dropped his gloves and waited for Kadri to rise. Kadri accepted the invitation to scrap.

No problem. You know … THE WAY IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE IN THE NHL. But when this traditional hockey fight ended, Faulk was tagged with five for fighting, two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.

Faulk is hardly a predator. Kadri is an established and recognized predator. And yet, somehow, the Blues are still paying the price for Kadri’s on-ice ambush committed against Faulk in the 2021 postseason.

The Blues not only had to kill the two-minute instigator penalty, but the 10-minute misconduct removed one of their best players from the game for a long stretch. This season, when Faulk and Torey Krug work as a defensive pairing, the Blues have outscored opponents 8-3 at five-on-five.

Nice league.

Michael Markovic and Corey Syvre were the refs, and here are a couple of things that tell us what we need to know.

1) When Markovic was transitioning to officiating after his playing career ended, he said this: “As a player I thought I knew the rules of hockey. However, I’ve come to realize you know absolutely nothing!”

Right on, dude.

2) As a player Syvre began to study officials because of his potential interest in an officiating career. He spent plenty of time reading the NHL rule book — if, in fact, such a tome exists. The NHL’s version of a law review wasn’t easy for the young lad to digest.

“It seemed like almost every page I turned was, ‘Oh really?’” Syvre said in an interview with a Hamilton, Ontario reporter earlier this year.

Naturally the former Florida Panthers draft pick made it to the NHL as an official in near-record time.

“It did happen a lot faster than a lot of people — even myself — ever would have imagined or anticipated,” Syvret said. “I honestly couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.”

Neither can we, pal.

Late in the game, with the Blues down by a goal and pressing to tie, Syvret saw but completely ignored Tyson Jost’s blatant trip of Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. No call. No Blues a power-play.

All of this said, the Blues created their own problems by taking so many careless penalties. They were fortunate to have the Avs score only one goal in five power play opportunities. The Blues’ top-ranked penalty-kill unit did an effective job, but that isn’t the point.

“At the end of the day we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “PK did a good job, but at the same time, it just takes our whole bench and rhythm out of it, I think. Guys don’t play as much as they need to and stoppages and whistles and TV timeouts, think guys kind of get a little bit cold. So I think as far as the rhythm goes, PK did a good job killing penalties tonight, but the same time, it takes guys out of it.”


Messing With Danger: Even while opening the season with five straight wins, the Blues allowed too many shots and high-danger chances. The hazardous trend finally hurt in Thursday’s loss to the Avs.

Six games into the season the Blues at five-on-five rank 25th among the 32 teams in percentage of total shots at the net (47.2%), 25th in share of shots on goal (46.8%), and 31st in their share of high-danger scoring chances (only 41.6%.)

The Blues failed to get off many shots against the Avalanche because they didn’t have the puck enough. And this really set them back. Had they been on top of their game, the Blues could have pumped more goals by Colorado goaltender Darcy Keumper. He wasn’t very good in this one, with an overall save percentage of .833. And Keumper allowed goals on two medium-danger shots and one low-danger shot.

In two games against the Blues this season Keumper has a poor .844 overall save percentage and a horrendous .647 save rate on medium-danger shots. He’s given up six goals in 17 medium-danger attempts.

The problem? In the two games vs. Keumper the Blues have only 38 percent of the shots on goal overall including just 22.8% from high-danger scoring range. At five-on-five the Blues only 39% of the shots and 21.4% of the high-danger chances.

Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington was also vulnerable Thursday, allowing one goal from medium-danger range and another goal from low-danger distance. But Binnington also stole a game from the Avs in the season opener in Denver. Because of Binnington’s stellar performance in the first game of the season, the Blues are fortunate to be 1-1 against the Avs.


Missing No. 90: I didn’t want to go there but I can’t help wonder if Thursday’s one-goal loss would have been altered in a positive way by Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. The tenacious two-way center is in Covid-19 protocol and will miss several more games.

Despite O’Reilly’s absence the Blues actually had a winning hand in faceoffs vs. the Avs, taking 53.2% of the draws. (Good work by Dakota Joshua, who went 5-0 on faceoffs, Tyler Bozak (57%) and Robert Thomas (52.6%.)

And the Blues did a solid enough job against Colorado’s top line of Andre Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. In 12:09 of five-on-five play, that No. 1 line was outscored by the Blues 1-0 despite a heavy advantage (68.7%) of shots directed at the net. But the Avs terrific trio did not have a single high-danger chance against the Blues at five-on-five.

But O’Reilly makes plays at both ends. And he’s often the set-up man for David Perron who has 73 goals since the Blues acquired O’Reilly in the summer of 2018. Thursday, Perron had only one shot on goal in 18 minutes and 16 seconds of ice time.

“Well, I mean, you miss his full game,” coach Craig Berube said of O’Reilly. “But that’s no reason to play the way we played for two periods, in my opinion. Again, he’s out, but we have capable guys of filling the roles. We kept MacKinnon and that line off the scoreboard tonight and we still lost. We have to do a better job as a whole team of understanding how we need to play the game, and we didn’t do that tonight.

“We didn’t skate and we were in penalty trouble, so we had a lot of guys sitting and it makes it difficult on everybody. We looked spread out tonight. We didn’t look tight like we normally do. Our forecheck was spread out. And then I thought overall they were a little bit more hungry than we were.”

Chief is correct.

But O’Reilly makes the Blues better.


No. 90 hadn’t missed a regular-season or postseason game for the Blues since joining the team before the 2018-2019 season.

With O’Reilly in the regular-season lineup the Blues are 119-67-28 for a points-share percentage of .621. That’s seventh overall in the NHL and second to Colorado (.626) among Western Conference teams. And of course, O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe trophy as the best player in the Stanley Cup playoffs in leading the Blues to their first NHL championship in 2019.


— Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist against the Avs. In six games this season he has four goals and four assists for the Bues. Tarasenko ranks third among NHL regulars with an average of 3.26 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, and is second with 17.9 shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five.

— Based on their deficits in shots on goal and in high-danger attempts, the Blues’ expected-goals percentage this season is 44.1 percent at five-on-five; that ranks 28th among the 32 teams.

— Former Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is off to a hideous start in his second season with Vegas. Through seven games he doesn’t have a point and is minus 7 at even strength. When Pietrangelo is on the ice at five-on-five, the Golden Knights have been outshot 88-68, outscored 8-2, and have an expected goal-scored share of 35 percent.

Thanks for reading …


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* All stats used here are sourced from Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise noted.