So, the Blues lost the opening game of the Western Conference Semifinals to Nashville by a goal Wednesday night. The natural question – at least the question I want to ask – is who’s at fault? It’s easy to blame an individual, but generally I don’t think that’s fair. This is a team sport, and teams lose games. Just like teams win games. So it’s not fair to blame any single player for the Blues losing game 1. Except maybe PK Subban. He did not do us any favors.
At any rate, I saw quite a few highs and lows last night. Somebody that didn’t quite look himself was Jake Allen. The goal he let in right after the injury to Kevin Fiala was bad. No way around it. He should have had that one, and I think Jake would tell you the same thing. If I ever get press credentials, I’ll ask him. But until then, we’ll have to go off assumptions. I have a feeling Marty Brodeur and Allen will work on that. I wonder how much the 17 minute and some change delay in the game caused by the Fiala injury had to do with that goal, though. It’s one thing to get a nearly 20 minute break between periods when you’re expecting it, but it’s entirely another for it to happen seemingly randomly during the game.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jake had some spectacular stops on a Nashville team that certainly doesn’t want for talent. I can’t think of a worse game number 34’s had under the Yeo/Brodeur era, but it’s not like bad games since Hitchcock moved on come about too often for Jake. A save percentage under 1.000 is bad for Allen as of late. I feel good about him in between the pipes come Friday. And having Brodeur to help him is an invaluable resource.
There were, of course, some positives. Vladimír Sobotka’s goal was pretty sweet. Primo top shelf, goal. Glad you’re doing that here, not in Russia. Paul Stastny was looking like himself setting plays up from the boards and in the trapezoid. Colton Parayko worked his way in to score the Blues’ first goal in a pretty impressive matter. Oh, and Ryan Reaves continued to show why he’s a terrifying human being that will quite literally murder you if you make the mistake of stepping on his ice without a blue sweater just to prove he can.
There is, however, the unpleasant matter of Jay Bouwmeester to discuss. Pietro’s defense partner didn’t have himself a game. It started early on when he fell a few times. I get it Jay, ice is slick. But you’re a professional hockey player. You should know how to skate. Of course, falling down isn’t something completely unheard of for Jay. But it’s something I’d like to see less of.
The biggest Jay problem of the night, however, was a misplayed puck that ended up being the winning goal for the Preds. Straight up, Jay misplayed it. There’s no way around it. It didn’t take a bad hop. It didn’t hit a bad patch of ice. It didn’t jump off the board oddly. It was misplayed. And Jake Allen didn’t react well. But Bouwmeester should have been able to bring it out of the defensive zone with ease and he didn’t. And that mistake cost the Blues the game.
This isn’t to say that Bouwmeester is a terrible player or should be cut or something. It is to say that someone on the top d line who’s been in the league for eleven seasons (his first NHL appearance was in 2002, but he bounced around the AHL before coming back up for the Panthers for the 2005-06 season) shouldn’t make that kind of a mistake in the second round of a playoff series. Calm yourself, Jay. You’re not a rookie. This isn’t your first playoff game. You’re better than that. I’ve seen it. But you definitely cost the Blues this game.
But, let’s not get too upset. The Blues lost game one of last year’s second round by one goal, too. And, quite frankly, I think that Dallas team was better than this year’s Nashville team. And we’ve been a better road team of late. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played.