In Game 1 of the second-round series between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues fell 3-2 despite a brilliant goaltending effort from Jordan Binnington. The Avalanche threw everything at them and succeeded with a victory, but the Blues were close to stealing this one as it went to overtime.
While the result can be discouraging, the Blues fought hard and were carried by Binnington. It’s become clear that the Avalanche could be one of those next-level, nearly impossible teams to beat. All of this was on display in the first game of the series.
Binnington was Brilliant with 51 Saves
Binnington deserved to get the win in this game, there was no doubt about it. The number of incredible saves that he made was off the charts, as he kept them in the game despite being outshot 54-25. If this is the version of him that they get in this series, they’ll have a chance to win in every game.
The Blues were outshot 19-9 in the second period and 13-0 in overtime; those numbers are insane to think about. Binnington returned to his 2019 Stanley Cup-winning form, and it still didn’t matter as they got the loss. Another enormous stat from this game was the fact that he saved five of five shots on the penalty kill and the Blues held them in check killing off all three penalties.
For the playoffs, Binnington now has three wins and one loss with a save percentage (SV%) of .944 and a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.94. He’s been a completely different player from the regular season, but he’s going to need a much stronger effort in front of him to have a chance of coming out of this series with a winning record.
A Lot of No-Shows for the Blues in Game 1
This is mainly pointed at the forward group, as there were a lot of noticeable no-shows for the Blues in Game 1. There is zero doubt that Ryan O’Reilly came to play, scoring the first goal and being all over the ice throughout the game. I also think that Brandon Saad had a solid game and Jordan Kyrou scored a goal, but he wasn’t great before that.
Both Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko had brutal games, as neither generated much on offense and they turned the puck over far too often. It was noticeable that the majority of the Blues’ forward group was soft on the puck along the boards; they’ve got to be stronger moving forward. Despite not scoring much this postseason, Pavel Buchnevich did a lot of the little things, as he had a solid Game 1, despite not getting on the scoresheet.
They didn’t get much physicality from Ivan Barbashev and Brayden Schenn, which needs to change in a major way for Game 2. It would be ideal for head coach Craig Berube to change up some of the lines for the next game to find a similar spark to the first-round series with the Minnesota Wild.
As for the defensive unit, it was about as solid as expected given the offensive firepower of the Avalanche. It’s hard to measure their performance in a game where they got little-to-no help from their forwards. Sometimes making the simple plays with the puck is the most effective at limiting an offence like theirs, and the Blues struggled to do that in Game 1.
Colorado is a Juggernaut Squad
This should go without saying, but there is a reason why the Avalanche are 5-0 in the playoffs, they are simply a juggernaut team. In a game where they got goals from Valeri Nichuskin, Samuel Girard, and Josh Manson, they still got a combined 13 shots from Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen. Being outshot 13-0 in overtime summed up this game quite well, and shows how elite the Avalanche are.
The Blues were able to hold Cale Makar off of the scoresheet, but it still didn’t matter. The bottom line is that this series will be an uphill battle for the Blues, as it’s going to take a lot of different things to happen for them to win this series. They’ve got to make some subtle tweaks and adjustments to carry play a bit better. While Game 1 may have seemed like the 2021 series between the two teams, where the Avalanche swept the Blues, there were differences. The Blues were far more resilient and got a huge performance from Binnington, which never really happened last year.
The Blues must dig deep in Game 2 and find a way to get a road win in the series. I’m expecting some lineup changes and adjustments from Berube and the coaching staff, which hopefully sparks them. Either way, they clearly have their hands full with the Avalanche and it won’t get any easier moving forward.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.