The St. Louis Blues’ bubble has been popped. 

After narrowly ending the common season because the Western Convention’s prime squad, the defending Stanley Cup champions’ title protection lasted simply six playoff video games. The Blues had been eradicated within the first spherical by the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, who picked up their first postseason collection win since 2011. 

It is a disappointing end to the season for St. Louis and now we’re assured to see a brand new group elevate the Stanley Cup in 2020. So, why are the Blues going residence this early? Let’s check out the place issues went mistaken. 

Sloppy play & turnovers

Merely put, the Blues by no means actually appeared fairly proper upon returning to motion following the COVID-19 shutdown. They weren’t the identical hard-nosed, tight, disciplined group that we might come to know since Craig Berube took over final season. As a substitute, that they had far too many psychological lapses and commonly turned the puck over — typically instances in extremely harmful areas. 

They did stuff like this:

Credit score goes to Vancouver for with the ability to end their alternatives, but it surely felt like about three-quarters of the objectives that they scored on this collection got here because the direct results of St. Louis simply giving them the puck.

Total,  it was only a fairly embarrassing exhibiting from a Blues group that everyone knows is able to significantly better. They had been constantly outplayed and outworked by arguably and inferior group that was greater than keen to feed them their lunch. 

Lack of self-discipline

When the Blues’ sloppiness did not instantly translate right into a Vancouver aim, it typically translated right into a Vancouver energy play … which then shortly translated right into a Vancouver aim. St. Louis, which completed the common season because the fourth-least penalized group within the league, put the Canucks on the facility play 23 instances over the course of the collection. Contemplating Vancouver had a prime 5 energy play within the league this season, the outcomes had been unhealthy for the Blues.

Once more, the Canucks did effectively to reap the benefits of the alternatives that got to them. They scored seven instances on the man-advantage, with most of that injury coming from their extraordinarily harmful prime PP unit that includes Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller.

Coming into this collection, I anticipated a comparatively inexperienced (and oft undisciplined) Canucks group to be the facet that made too many errors and dedicated too many pricey penalties. In actuality, it was the alternative.

Teaching

We have seen it so many instances up to now. The Blues are a a lot totally different (and way more harmful) group when Ryan O’Reilly is at his finest. On the entrance finish of this collection, O’Reilly’s line was dominant when it comes to controlling possession and limiting the alternatives for the highest competitors it matched towards.

Lastly, that dominance helped St. Louis discover wins in Video games 3 and 4. Within the Blues’ Sport 3 win, O’Reilly’s line managed a fully staggering 80 p.c of photographs (24-6) and makes an attempt (39-10) at five-on-five. Additionally they scored twice, together with the extra time winner. In Sport 4, O’Reilly’s line managed 67 p.c of makes an attempt, 71 p.c of photographs and scored as soon as whereas shutting out the opposition.

However Travis Inexperienced did effectively to seek out spots for his prime gamers (particularly Elias Pettersson) away from O’Reilly at five-on-five and it paid dividends. And Inexperienced’s willingness and talent to juggle his ahead traces finally helped cease the bleeding and allowed Vancouver to get again heading in the right direction in Video games 5 and 6. Jake Virtanen’s selective (and considerably stunning) deployment labored to assist Vancouver play a bit heavier and injected a little bit of juice into the entrance finish of the Canucks’ lineup over the ultimate few video games.

It could actually’t be overstated how essential it’s for coaches to make changes over the course of a best-of-7 collection, and Inexperienced did a implausible job reacting to what he noticed and switching issues up to be able to poke holes within the Blues’ gameplan.

Goaltending

It is onerous to pin a ton of blame on goaltending contemplating how poorly the Blues performed in entrance of their very own web, however these errors and turnovers are solely compounded when your goalie is not saving stoppable pucks. There is not any manner round it, Jordan Binnington appeared like a shell of the man we noticed final postseason.

Binnington misplaced all three of his begins and went 52-for-65 on photographs confronted, giving him a putrid .800 save proportion in these three video games.

St. Louis understandably went to Jake Allen, who helped proper the ship in Video games 3 and 4. He went 92-for-100 within the collection however did have his leaky moments too.

Total, the goaltending wasn’t St. Louis’ greatest drawback, but it surely actually did not do them any favors, both.

No secondary scoring

One of many Blues’ strengths final 12 months was their potential to roll 4 traces and get important contributions (on each ends of the ice) from prime to backside. That form of depth is commonly the difference-maker for groups attempting to make deep playoff runs. 

St. Louis simply did not get these contributions this time round. Whenever you have a look at the manufacturing they acquired on this collection, nearly all of it lies on the prime of their lineup. O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and David Perron accounted for just about all of their scoring at even energy. Just one aim got here from a ahead exterior of the highest six (Sammy Blais). 

It additionally would not assist that the Blues, who bought extra objectives from defensemen than some other group within the common season, had only one five-on-five aim from a defenseman (Justin Faulk) on this collection. Vancouver’s backside six wiped the ground with the Blues’ over these six video games, and that is one thing few most likely noticed coming.

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