(HockeyStL) – The first period of Blues’ Thursday night loss to the New York Rangers was uncharacteristic of the team who has made the playoffs for the last few seasons.
The Blues allowed 16 shots on goal from a team who allowed the third fewest shots per game last season (26.4).
“[The] first period was a scale ahead of work,” said Ken Hitchcock, “We wanted to put on a show. [The Rangers] weren’t having anything to do with it. Once we settled into the first and second, we really played. We started to play north. We started to play in straight lines. We’re still not close. We need to shoot the puck a lot more.”
The Blues scored two goals on 25 shots and after allowing the 16 shots in the first period, the Blues held the Rangers to 9 shots in the remaining two periods.
“We had plenty of chances, plenty of rushes,” said a downtrodden David Backes, “But there are no excuses. It took until the intermission to come in and regroup and play a pretty good second period.”
“I think we started simplifying in the second half of the game,” said Paul Stastny, “In the first half, we were trying to make too many passes and it was kind of just blowing up on us. We played the way we wanted to as the game went on.”
Hitchcock was sharp with his criticism about the team he saw during practice and the team he saw play Thursday.
“[Joakim] Lindstrom played well,” he continued, “One of the things about [Vladimir] Tarasenko, when he plays with Stastny and [Alex] Steen, in practice they shoot. When they get in the game, they want to make plays. So they end up playing sideways and it’s not effective.”
“[Jori] Lehtera plays in straight lines. I think the guy that dictates that is [Jaden] Schwartz. Schwartz plays at such a high tempo that it makes everyone else play there. I think we need more people playing with a direct line, a direct purpose and we’ll be more effective.”
Stastny and Schwartz scored goals for the Blues. Originally Stastny’s goal was credited to Tarasenko. Both goals came in the third period, as they came back to tie the game. But a bad bounce as Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the defensive zone came back toward Rick Nash as he buried the puck past Brian Elliott with less than two minutes left to seal the game for the Rangers.
“We game up Grade A chances,” Elliot said, “but that last one was unfortunate. You know the guys battled back hard. It’s a tough one to lose like that. It’s a tough one to swallow for your home opener, but we have 81 more to go.”