One the St. Louis Blues‘ defining traits in their Stanley Cup run last season was an ability to bounce back after losses. They were 8-2 after defeats, including their Game 7 win over Boston on the road for the championship.
In this postseason, the Blues lost Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks — but they did not bounce back in Game 2. Vancouver took a 2-0 lead in their series with a 4-3 overtime victory on Friday night in Edmonton. Historically, NHL teams with a 2-0 lead in a seven-game playoff are 324-51 (.864) in those series.
The Blues have now played five games in the NHL’s restarted postseason and have failed to win any of them, including a shootout loss to Dallas in the round robin and this overtime defeat the Canucks.
“Is it frustrating? Yeah, sure. But I don’t really care about what people say outside of our locker room,” said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. “We had a lot of noise last year, and look what we did. It’s a new year, obviously. We don’t want to keep dwelling on last year, but the core of this group went through that together. We know how to bounce back from these things.”
The Blues didn’t get the start that they wanted, going down 2-0 in Game 2 on a shorthanded goal by Bo Horvat and a power-play goal from Tanner Pearson. It was 3-1 Vancouver in the third period when St. Louis staged an impressive rally, getting goals from Sammy Blais and then Jaden Schwartz with around seven seconds left in regulation to tie the game.
“I thought we were the better team all night. Did a lot of good things,” said Blues coach Craig Berube. “We clean up a few things, we’re going to be OK. There’s adversity right now. We’ve just gotta fight through it and win a game.”
There are two stars from last season’s Cup run that have yet to make their mark for St. Louis in this postseason. Vladimir Tarasenko, who missed all but 10 games in the regular season due to shoulder surgery, has yet to record a point in four postseason games since returning to the lineup.
“Vladdy got better as the game went along. He needs to use his feet and skate a lot harder than he is. I’d like to see him get to the inside more than he is right now,” said Berube.
Binnington, meanwhile, has given up nine goals on 47 shots for an .809 save percentage in the series. When it came to the Blues’ bounce-back ability in games last postseason, he was the catalyst: Binnington was 8-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage following a loss in the 2019 postseason. In Game 2, his save percentage was .840, giving up four goals on 25 shots.
Is Berube concerned about Binnington?
“I think there’s concern all around. That’s too many goals in general. That’s not just the goalie, it’s the whole team,” he said.
But when asked whether he might consider a change to goalie Jake Allen in Game 3 of their series, scheduled for Sunday night, Berube didn’t rule it out.”That’s something I’ll discuss tomorrow with the coaching staff. That’s as far as I’m going to take that,” he said.
Despite the deficit, the Blues remained defiant after Game 2, in particular when presented with the theory that after winning the Cup it might just not be their year.
“It wasn’t our year last year up to January either, and we found a way to turn it around,” said winger David Perron, referencing the fact that the Blues were in last place midway through last season before winning the championship. “It doesn’t matter what people say on the outside. What matters is how we play and what we believe in this room.”