Along with Brian Elliott‘s brilliant play, the St. Louis Blues took advantage of a hot stretch of power play pay to push by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 postseason.*
Elliott is with Calgary now, but at least some of those themes carried over as the Blues beat the Blackhawks 5-2 to open the 2016-17 season.
On one hand, that lead is a little, well, misleading.
The Blackhawks were within a goal late in the game, hoping to tie things up by emptying their own net.
Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko made it 4-2 on an empty-netter and then an odd Duncan Keith own-empty-net-goal made it 5-2, exaggerating the gap.
On the other hand, the Blues did outplay the Blackhawks at times.
(via Natural Stat Trick)
Concerns about the Blackhawks’ offense may seem like a novelty of sorts, but through one game, they felt justified. The Blues smothered Chicago at times on Wednesday, and it showed most clearly in the shot counts.
Yeah, that’s not ideal.
To be fair, the Blackhawks did turn the heat up on Jake Allen more in the third period after St. Louis took an early lead.
Again, special teams was crucial. One of two Blackhawks goals came on the man advantage while the Blues’ three tallies against an actual goalie came on the power play. St. Louis exploited a lengthy 5-on-3 situation in the end of the second period and beginning of the third, managing the tying and then decisive goals on the PP.
That ended up being all they needed to get a win against their hated Central Division rivals.
It’s dangerous to read too much into Game 1 of an 82-game marathon, but the Blackhawks might want to look at a few things during film sessions.
* – At least in the middle of the series, when the Blues managed five PPG during a three-game span.