Blues host Sharks in Home Opener
Faulk gets Blues on Board.
Justin Faulk’s first goal of the season came 2:36 into the second period. Not only did it end 88 minutes and four-second of a scoreless drought, but it also ended some of the questions surrounding Faulk and how he fits in with this team.
Faulk came to the Blues through a trade with Carolina Hurricanes at the beginning of last season. He subsequently signed a seven-year $45.5 million extension while having what could arguably be one of his worst professional years.
With the loss of former Captain Alex Pietrangelo, Faulk’s duties and roll will change substantially. Faulk was known for his power-play abilities yet during his first year with the Blues, just never seemed to fit into the system.
Faulk started to show flashes of understanding during the playoffs bubble, but that became short-lived. Last season Faulk had only goals. After last night is already halfway to that mark.
After taking what could only be called a shellacking or just a plain old simple beat down in Colorado. They open their season at home in front of 300 or so front-line workers and some cardboard cutouts. The smallest crowd in team history. * attached.
The biggest question for the blues would be how they would respond to the eight to nothing loss to the Avalanche. The immediate answer, not good.
Eleven minutes into the first period, after winning an offensive zone face-off, the San Jose Sharks were able to control the puck and cycle from behind the net to the blueline, D Brent Burns sent a slapper towards the net that was tipped by Kevin Labanc giving the Sharks first blood.
While it seemed as if St. Louis was controlling the pace of play, it was the Sharks who were able to maintain discipline. Taking a two to nothing lead going into the first intermission. Logan Couture scored his first of the season, on a Shark’s power-play with a little over 5 minutes to play in the first.
St. Louis’ special teams were anything but. The Blues are 0 for the season on the power-play. The penalty kill is just as bad. The Blues are last in the league at 42.9%. Many pundits considered special teams play to be one of St. Louis’s greatest strengths.
The Blues added Tory Krug and Mike Hoffman to the mix, along with new assistant coach Jim Montgomery. The prevailing thought process was that the new pieces would be stronger additions than the subtractions that the team took in the off-season.
The chemistry is a little off. Just like you are trying to make that perfect chili, the adding of the spices can be the most important part. Too much of one spice or too little of another throws the whole concoction out of whack. The sharks were two for three on the power play. That goes along with the avalanche scoring six power-play goals just 72 hours before.
During the first intermission, Blues Head coach Craig Berube must have said something in the locker room, akin to the intermission rant of a superfan during a Facebook live.
When the second period started the boys in Blue had not celebrated a goal for over 80 minutes. Not only did Faulk score twice, but Mike Hoffman also got his first goal with his new team on a tip-in at the 4:09 mark to tie it up. Burns who had two assists in the first added a power-play goal in the second. The Shark’s lead did not last long.
Kyrou shows Speed and Skill.
Jorden Kyrou, coming into his make-or-break season, showed off his lightning-fast speed and was able to beat two defenders and fire a shot in on San Jose Goaltender Devin Dubnyk. Dubnyk made a masterful poke check on Kyrou that found the stick of Braden Schenn at the top of the right circle. Schenn fired at the empty net and cased a scrum that knocked the puck across the goal line.
The four-goal explosion in the second was the offensive output this team was looking for.
The lead would disappear for a second time though. At 4:17 in the third Couture would net his second goal with a little help from Lebanc and Radim Simek.
With less than 10 minutes to go in regulation. Kyrou repeated the feat he accomplished in the first game. San Jose was trying to exit their zone. The puck went of Kyrous stick. “Pary [Paryako] made a good drop for me and I cut to the middle” Kyrou commented “and tried to use the D as a screen there and it worked out. I was just happy in the moment and did my thing.”
Kyrou’s second game-winning goal in three games was not even the highlight of his night. With the score tied 4-4, the Sharks came in on an odd-man rush. Kyrou again flashed his speed getting on the backcheck and breaking up the scoring opportunity. “Good defense leads to offense so I really feel like I’ve been working hard on that.” He said when asked about the play. “getting back quicker and being hard on the forecheck and defensively as well. It definitely helps with the overall game.”
Blue’s Captain Ryan O’Reilly received his second minor in as many games. O’Reilly a Lady Byng trophy, most gentlemanly skilled player, winner in 2013-14 had just 5 minors in 71 games played last season.
O’Reilly’s leadership on the ice was showcased in the third period. With less than two minutes left and San Jose setting up to add the extra attacker. O’Reilly entered the zone on a breakaway. After Dubnyk stoned him, O’Reilly chased the puck in the corner.
Fighting with two Sharks he was able to steal the puck away and get it to Parayko, who fired a shot in on Dubnyk. O’Reilly picked up the loose puck and managed to get a shot off and keep possession. The 45 seconds that O’Reilly worked to keep the puck in the zone kept the Shark’s extra attacker off the ice.
The Sharks made a last-ditch effort and had two good scoring chances. Binnington and the defense were up to the task.
The win was a good one for the Blues. “I thought our first period was actually good and you come out of there down 2-0, it’s discouraging, but I thought our guys got back in the game the second period,” Berube said during the post-game press conference. “I thought the first half of that period, we were really good, got us back in the game.”
Craig Berube: "I thought our first period was actually good and you come out of there down 2-0, it's discouraging, but I thought our guys got back in the game the second period. I thought the first half of that period, we were really good, got us back in the game." #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) January 19, 2021
Jorden Binnington had a ho-hum night. While he did let in four goals. Only Couture’s second is one he may have wanted back. “Binny” was 22-26 with a .846 s%.
The two teams will do this hockey again on Wednesday night but with an 8 PM CST start time.
Should be a barn burner!!!
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing