The NHL Central division is not living up to its moniker of the best division in hockey right now. Much of that is due to some surprising results from teams we thought would be contenders.
To say the St. Louis Blues started their week poorly would be an extreme understatement. The Blues results were about as bad as you can get at the professional level.
The team did not always play as bad as you can play. In fact, against Dallas, there were moments they played quite well. In a results based world though, getting blown out does not indicate much good.
The Blues were shutout for the first time this season on Tuesday. The New York Rangers showed why they lead the league in goals scored by putting five in the back of the Blues’ net.
You would have thought that would be the wake up call the team needed, but they continued their struggles into a divisional clash on Thursday. After keeping the game scoreless until about halfway through it all, the floodgates opened.
The Blues would see six goals go up on the board and could only muster two. The game was closer than the score indicated, as it was actually 4-2 and then an empty net goal and a poor bounce led to the last two goals.
Still, you can’t rely on saying the game was closer than it looked. Eventually you have to outscore your opponent.
The Blues would do just that over the weekend. Whether they have righted the ship is a question that will be answered in the future, but two wins to at least go .500 for the week.
It took overtime, but the Blues beat the Columbus Blue Jackets despite a valiant effort to deny them by the Columbus goaltender. St. Louis then unleashed the beast against Colorado to cap the week off with a 5-1 win.
St. Louis must now keep the focus on themselves. If they can make the Colorado game a template to follow just in terms of what they did right, then more good results will follow.
Blues Weekly Stats
Vladimir Tarasenko – 1G 1A 2P
Jori Lehtera – 1G 0A 1P
Jaden Schwartz – 1G 0A 1P
Scottie Upshall – 1G 1A 2P
Robby Fabbri – 1G 0A 1P
David Perron – 1G 0A 1P
Dmitrij Jaskin – 0G 2A 2P
Kyle Brodziak – 0G 1A 1P
Ryan Reaves – 0G 1A 1P
Kevin Shattenkirk – 0G 4A 4P
Colton Parayko – 0G 1A 1P
Carl Gunnarsson – 0G 1A 1P
Jay Bouwmeester – 1G 0A 1P
Alex Pietrangelo – 1G 1A 2P
Jake Allen – 59 saves/69 shots, .855 save percentage, 3.97 goals against
Carter Hutton – 28 saves/30 shots, .933 save percentage, 1.32 goals against
View from the Midwest Division Recap
It doesn’t get easier for the Blues heading forward. They do get a few days off before a game that will surely test how well they are playing on Wednesday.
In a game that will be shown on national TV, the Blues face off against the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. As mentioned in the video, Chicago has won seven of eight coming into this week.
The Blues are going to need to be on top of their games to win that one. They do already hold a victory against Chicago, but the ‘Hawks were not clicking the way they are now, so this will truly test how much the Blues have turned a corner.
After that one, the Blues get on a plane and head south. The very next night, Thursday, St. Louis will take on the Nashville Predators for the first time this season.
Nashville has not been playing well at all to open the year. Dallas was not scoring before they played the Blues and we saw how that turned out, so you can’t take anything for granted.
The Blues will close out the week by ending their season series with Columbus, this time in Ohio. That game will happen on Saturday.
The two wins to end the week were much more what we expect from this team. I expect a lot more ups and downs throughout the year, but the Blues need to avoid the kind of downs they just experienced where everything from luck to work-rate was going against them.
The Blues cannot rely on their goaltending to bail them out every night. Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been very sharp lately, but the lack of offense has not helped them out as much as they need.
You’re going to lose games. Nobody has an undefeated season in hockey. It’s up to the Blues to keep the positive vibe going against some tough teams coming up though.