The Blues scored the first goal of the game Tuesday within 45 seconds of the puck drop. It might as well have been the only good thing to happen for them all night.
After St. Louis struck for that early lead, Carter Hutton surrendered three goals in the first period; when he did that January 20th, Mike Yeo pulled him after the third goal for Jake Allen. That didn’t happen Tuesday—at least not right away. Yeo permitted Hutton to complete the first period before opening the second frame with Allen in net.
He fared about the same, as the Blues dropped the contest to the Wild 6-2. In a trend that seems to have occurred far too often this season, the Blues laid an egg—it was clear to many of the players they didn't have the urgency necessary to win the game. It's a disturbing element to be missing this late in the season for a team intent on contending.
"You have to earn every inch out there," Alexander Steen said. "When you play a team that is earning it, and you're not, this is what happens."
With seven defensemen active, the Blues were abysmal in protecting their own end. Don’t absolve the goaltenders, though: they were awful in net, giving up six goals on 18 shots. The offense didn’t muster much in the way of quality scoring chances, waiting until the third period to tack on their second goal. By then, it was out of reach. The Blues were eager to get involved in a scuffle, because those were the only things they had a chance to win for the evening.
There's no sugarcoating it. This was a brutal night for the Blues.
The Wild came into St. Louis following a 6-1 loss to the Stars—who are nipping on the Blues’ heels for third in the Central division, by the way—so it should’ve come as no surprise that Minnesota would come into this game with an edge.
Yet, St. Louis sure seemed befuddled. Though Jaden Schwartz’s goal provided the Blues an advantage off the top, it was decidedly downhill from there. The Blues rolled over to a divisional foe on home ice, and Yeo didn't really have an explanation for it.
"I'd like to tell you that I've got the answer," Yeo said. "But the answer's got to come from within—from within the locker room. Obviously, our leaders are going to have to set the example. It comes from those guys first and foremost. Our job as coaches is to make sure everybody's on board."
In addition to the urgency issues plaguing St. Louis, the Blues now have the type of goalie controversy on their hands that nobody wants. This is no longer a case of the backup backstop having the ‘hot hand’—neither Hutton nor Allen could even be described as lukewarm after this one.
Regardless of who was in goal, the team around him Tuesday was no better; next time, it’s going to need to be.
"We need to respond," Alex Pietrangelo said. "We know it's not good enough. It's not good enough starting with me, all the way down. We've got to make sure Thursday there's a good response. We've said that before. We've got tomorrow to look into the mirror and get better."