As hard as it is to believe a regular season game happened tonight between two division rivals — old and new — as the St. Louis Blues visited the Colorado Avalanche for the first in a two-game set to open the 2021 season. However it wasn’t the start the Avalanche had hoped for in a sluggish 4-1 loss.
Right out of the gate it was clear the home team wasn’t firing on all cylinders but they got on the board first as they converted on their second power play in the first period. With Devon Toews in the quiet room after receiving an elbow to the head the Avalanche made the Blues pay when Andre Burakovsky blistered a shot into the net at just 4:55 into the contest. Another bit of good news — Toews returned late in the first period and played the rest of the game.
However that was all that went right for the Avalanche for the rest of the period — and eventually game — as the new look second line got caught deep a rush attack for a score against by Oskar Sundqvist at 9:29 and then again at 13:15 on a defensive zone turnover which was converted on by Jordan Kyrou.
The Avalanche has crawled back into the game in the second period outshooting St. Louis 15-6 but yet no goal was produced. Then in the third period after some lax defensive zone play the Blues found the dagger when Kyle Clifford beat Philipp Grubauer at 6:46. Sundqvist added another goal for good measure on a Grubauer turnover at 14:22 to truly put the game away for a 4-1 final score.
Sloppiness was evident in the first games around the league and expected especially without any preseason but a failure to execute bit the Avalanche early in this game and they never recovered. Special teams wasn’t a major factor but only the second power play unit cashing in on four chances with the man advantage needs improvement as well.
The tabbed second line with Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad were on the ice for three and four goals against respectively which was no accident. Both looked slow in transition and to contact all game long plus a lack of poise when they did have an offensive chance with the puck. Three even strength shot attempts between them will need to improve as well.
Another work in progress was the defense and it did not help the defensive core as a whole when Toews missed a good portion of the first period. Samuel Girard and Cale Makar led the team with six even strength shot attempts each but little was done by the forwards for second chance efforts. Conor Timmins played 15:44 in a mixed-bag type of effort. His breakout passes were on point but was also caught in some of the defensive zone missed coverages. As a whole something for the team to assess mistakes and build on before the next game.
Game two of the season and series against St. Louis is back at Ball Arena on Friday, January 15th at 7pm MT.