If the St. Louis Blues thought that last night’s contest against Nashville would be a cake walk, they were sadly mistaken. Coming into the game, St. Louis was 2-0 against the Predators, including an impressive 3-0 blanking of them in their most recent meeting. Tuesday night was a completely different story though. The Blues didn’t play with emotion, they didn’t skate, and they simply were never in the game.
Nashville opened up the scoring on an early power play tally by Ryan Ellis. This Blues penalty kill does not look good this year, and it has cost them some games. People may think of Friday’s 5-3 loss to Detroit. Did David Backes deserve a five minute penalty for his hit on Kent Huskins? No. Did the Blues deserve to win that game? No.
In fact, the Blues really haven’t looked like themselves in this shortened campaign. They look like last year’s Chicago Blackhawks, scoring a lot of goals while giving up a lot of goals. The Hawks are still scoring goals this year, but they have gotten extraordinary goaltending, and as a result they have the best record in the league. St. Louis needs to go back to the old formula to start winning games again.
The Blue Note have trailed their opponents in six of their first nine games. Last season I don’t remember the Blues trailing in too many games. They took a small lead and never let their opponents get back into the contest. If the Blues think they can keep playing how they’ve played so far and make the playoffs, it’s gonna be a long season (not literally obviously).
The three keys for the Blues to be successful are: skating, physicality, and goaltending. When you’re trailing at home, what better way to get the crowd into the game then a big hit or a fight? Where was this last night? I haven’t heard Scottrade Center as quiet as they were last night in a long time, and frankly I don’t blame them. There was very little to be excited about in last night’s game.
Goaltending is another pressing issue. With Halak out, Brian Elliott has a chance to prove that his tremendous performance last season wasn’t a fluke (much like this entire St. Louis Blues team). So far, not so good. Elliott allowed four goals on just 11 shots in last night. This has been a problem this season. The goaltenders aren’t seeing as much rubber, and as a result they aren’t looking nearly as sharp as they were last campaign. Both Halak and Elliott will need to play better for St. Louis to be a contender.
All in all, it’s not time to freak out. This is still a very good team with the right personnel in place. Tomorrow’s game against Detroit is big. Ken Hitchcock will need to get everyone’s head in the right place. All we can do is sit back, and watch this team continue to grow. Early obstacles can be good. Better to have problems now then later, when games are that much more important.