As the shortened 2013 NHL season approaches its halfway point, media and the fans alike will be able to better scope a team and its abilities moving forward into the postseason. The St. Louis Blues seem to be a team poised to make a deep playoff run. They possess many attributes that a playoff team must have: crazy offensive depth, a gritty and tenacious attitude, and a great coaching staff. The most obvious holes in the system up to this point include defensive depth and goaltending.
- The defense has shown a lot of great signs so far, but they still seem to have lapses more often than they should. Ian Cole has shown flashes of brilliance at times with his vision and puck-handling, but still makes those mistakes that make you cringe. The pairing of Roman Polak and Barret Jackman have been great of late, getting in the way of shots and causing general disruptions to the offensive attacks of opponents. Wade Redden has seemed to be a positive addition to Alex Pietrangelo‘s play since he was signed the first week of the season. Kevin Shattenkirk continues to be a great offensive defenseman. There still seem to be many questions that need to be answered before the trade deadline and playoff push. Will the Blues seek a top pairing left-handed defenseman to help boost Pietrangelo to even greater heights? Can the defense put it together to be more reliable as a collective unit with less collapses?
- The goaltending has been off and on all season. This continues to be a head-scratcher after the work that Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott put together last year that saw them win a Jennings trophy at season’s end. Elliott’s play has obviously not been up to par since the Blues’ 6 to 1 defeat at the hands of the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center on February 5th. That game most certainly shattered his confidence in his ability to be a reliable backstop. I don’t believe last year was a fluke year for Elliott. He’s a great goalie, and you can see that when he lets in a goal that seems could have been saved, he’ll be the first one to let himself know. He cares about his play, and the confidence will come back with time. The better play of the Blues as of late is sure to help with this when he gets back into a game in the coming weeks. Not mentioned yet is the stellar play of Jake Allen. Allen has been incredibly hot since his first career NHL start against the Detroit Red Wings on February 13th in Detroit. As of right now, he’s expected to start in tomorrow night’s game against the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center. Ken Hitchcock pointed out at the beginning of the season that he would stick with whoever was hot in net, and Allen continues to be just that. But who knows how long the play of Jake Allen will last? Will Brian Elliott recover from his early season blunders and get back to his form from last year? If that doesn’t happen, will Jake Allen become the full time backup? What about Jaro Halak? Will he solidify his starting role with the team? I can’t wait for these questions to be answered, as I’m sure is the consensus with all of the fans in the Bluenote nation.
Tomorrow night will hopefully be a starting point for these questions to be answered, as well as an opportunity for the Blues to continue their recent outstanding play. The Sharks have been struggling as of late as well, and this would be a great chance for the Blues to take advantage of it on home ice. The only thing the fans can do at this point, is sit back and watch.