Friday, March 26, 2021

Blues come up empty in bid to win for Plager in 2-0 loss to Wild

Team pumps 37 shots on Cam Talbot, 
can't solve Wild goalie to end trip 2-3-0

They wanted to do it for Bobby.

Unfortunately, Cam had other ideas.

Cam Talbot, that is.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues right wing David Perron (57) fends off the Wild's Nico Sturm during
action Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. Perron had nine of the Blues' 37
shots on goal on a 2-0 loss. 

The Minnesota Wild netminder swallowed each and every one of the 37 shots the Blues threw his way, and with Brayden Schenn trying to set the tone from the opening puck drop in the only manner Bob Plager would have done, or wanted, it wasn't enough to overcome Talbot and the Wild, who were opportunistic with each of their 11 shots on goal in a 2-0 win over the Blues Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

The Blues (16-12-5), who return to action Friday at 7 p.m. in the first of two games against the Anaheim Ducks, concluded their five-game road trip 2-3-0, leaving them with just eight games away from Enterprise Center the rest of the regular season.

But the story Thursday was the Blues' inability to solve Talbot, who was playing the second of back-to-back games and was needed from start to finish.

The Blues were playing for the first time just 24 hours after learning of the death of Plager, who died in a car accident Wednesday. He was Mr. Blue and the loss has hit many of the players, coaches and those in the organization hard. But this was hardly a lack of effort as much it was executing in the offensive zone and not being able -- as former coach Ken Hitchcock used to say -- outwork the other goalie.

"He made some big stops at big times," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said of Talbot. "We had some good looks, but we need to be harder on him, maybe have some better screens and such, but got to find a way to put it in the net.

"It's frustrating. We did a lot of things well. We supported each other a lot better tonight and to not get a result, it's frustrating. I'm frustrated. As a guy that sees a big situation tonght, I've got to find a way to create better looks offensively. I made some ugly hockey plays that isn't very high end. If I can do that, I think that filters out and can hopefully spark something and eventually roll there, but in general I thought as a team we were better together and we have a unique opportunity to get back at it tomorrow and throw two efforts together."

According to, the Blues finished with 27-12 edge in scoring chances, 10-3 in high danger scoring chances, which is pretty good for a game and usually spells victory.
The biggest problem was Talbot, for the majority of the night, was able to see pucks, swallow them up and not allow second and third opportunities.

"Not enough," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "There were some, but I guess the one area, maybe we could shoot the puck a bit better than we did, but there were a ton of real good chances. We just weren't real clean with it a lot of times. If you give Vladi and Perron that many shots that they got tonight and that many chances on a normal night, they're probably going to score a couple.

"... I thought it was a solid hockey game by our team. We only give up 11 shots, had 30-something shots. That happens sometimes. The goalie played well down there. You play like that, you're going to win a lot of hockey games in my opinion. I thought our team was really committed tonight. Work ethic was excellent."

The work ethic and effort was never in question, and that was obvious when center Brayden Schenn fought the Wild's Ryan Hartman one second into the game.

It would have made Plager proud.

"What led to it? I guess me just trying to get our team going," Schenn said. "Obviously not happy with the way the road trip's going and we've got to play harder. Sometimes trying to spark guys really. I don't have to fight often, but sometimes it's part of my game. 

"Regarding Bobby, Panger text me before the game (to) get five goals, five shots or five hits, but obviously got none of that so I guess I got a five for Bobby tonight. It's been a tough couple days around the Blues organization with the news and the way he touched players. Most of the guys know him in that locker room and obviously the staff and everyone around us and just what he means to the Blue Note and to the organization. You don't expect to hear news like that yesterday. I know a lot of people around St. Louis are very sad to hear that news and he's an incredible man."

The Blues peppered Talbot with plenty of pucks, but the Wild goalie was having none of it. When the goalie who's making save after save can see pucks, chances are it's going to be a good night for him, as was the case here.

"Yeah, 37-11 in shots. There was obviously some neutral zone play, but we were pretty dominant in the o-zone," Schenn said. "We had chances, we had shots. We had traffic at the net the majority of the time and sometimes you just don't get the bounces hen you're pressing and you're pushing. You want to win so bad, sometimes it doesn't go your way, but if we keep on playing like that, playing together and playing hard and limiting teams' chances, you're going to come out on top most nights. Got to get two points tomorrow night and try to get back in the win column here against Anaheim.

"There's going to be nights like this where you feel like you deserve a couple of goals or at least the win and it doesn't happen. Give them credit, their goalie played well tonight. He's obviously very solid and made the saves he had to and bailed his team out on a back-to-back."

And when the Blues couldn't get pucks past Talbot, they were their own worst enemy managing the biscuit. Two offensive zone turnovers by David Perron and Robert Thomas in the second period led to both Wild goals.

"A little bit. For the most part, I thought offensively at least hold onto the puck and the other team can't score," O'Reilly said. "We fought to get it back, we tracked hard, our D did a great job keeping pucks alive. Just a few little mistakes and they're in the back of the net and it happens. We've just got to stick with it and keep working to improve.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
It was a tough night for the Blues and defenseman Vince Dunn (29), who
tries to fend off Minnesota's Ryan Hartman Thursday in St. Paul.

"It would have been nice to get Bobby a win tonight, but I think he'd be proud of our effort. Guys worked, some big fights. Guys stepped up huge. It's a tough schedule, but it's tough for everyone. The key is just taking it one game at a time. We're disappointed with our road trip, but we don't have time to dwell on it. We have to get right back to work tomorrow and keep plugging away. It's going to be a tough game coming off a back-to-back, but it's two points we need."

This could have been hard emotionally for the players to get into knowing the Plager situation, but they played the right away, aside from scoring, and feel that if they put forth efforts like this in the future, the wins will come.

"Guys played hard tonight, guys played physical, a couple fights, played with emotion," Schenn said. "Not that we have to fight every night, but we need emotion in our game and that's what's going to win you hockey games. Obviously we would have liked to answer the bell with a win, and like I said, we have to get back to the drawing board tonight and we need two points. We've got to be desperate tomorrow night with a well-rested Anaheim team."

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