The St. Louis Blues dropped a disappointing result to the Winnipeg Jets. Carter Hutton was the only reason the game was not a blowout and that is becoming a rather common theme.
The St. Louis Blues had a glaring problem according to the media and the rather lazy portion of the fanbase earlier in the season. According to the national media, who are too busy to do anything but check a box score and the fans who have nothing better to do than always blame the goaltending, the Blues main or only problem was in net.
Nevermind that the defense is weaker than a limp noddle and has more holes than Swiss cheese some nights. Let’s overlook the fact that the offense is streakier than windows cleaned with newspaper.
Regardless of what the opinion was back then, the goaltending turned it around. Whether it was Jake Allen or Carter Hutton, both players turned their respective games around and the team was much better for it.
Unfortunately, when the goalies turned their fortunes around, the team did not always do so. That has been especially true of late.
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The Blues are currently riding a five game losing streak. Box score readers will focus on the fact the Blues gave up a total of 14 goals in those losses. So how can the goaltenders be playing well giving up an average of almost three goals a game?
Well, the team in front of them is playing quite awful lately. With the exception of the Winnipeg game, the Blues have lost one goal decisions.
Before people say the Chicago result was a two goal game, the Blues really had a one goal decision and the Hawks scored on an empty net. One could even argue the Winnipeg game was a one goal decision since there were two empty net goals scored.
Regardless of how you want to split hairs, the games have only been close because of the guys in the crease.
The problem is even if the Blues were winning, they are relying on the netminders too much. These aren’t just your everyday, routine saves they are being asked to make. There are several highlight saves all coming in the span of a handful of games. That’s a lot to ask.
In the Winnipeg game alone, Hutton had to face 19 shots in the second period. If you want to be a good team, there should be nights you give up 19 in an entire game.
Even when the Blues were on their win streak, the team got a lot of praise. However, when you look beyond the surface changes, it was the goaltending again.
Three Hutton shutouts during that period. Allen had 31 stops against a hungry Toronto team. If not for a Patrik Berglund hat-trick and Allen stopping 28, the Blues lose to Montreal.
This is not just a recent thing either. Though the focus was on the goaltending early in the year, the Blues were getting good performances on some nights and the team just would not play for them.
At the time, they were gripping their sticks too tightly, afraid of any potential goaltender gaffe. Now the goaltenders might be worried about any defensive mistake is going to lead to a breakaway against them.
The Blues have to find a way to get something done. Maybe this team is not as good as we believed during their six-game streak where they won seven of eight. They are not, or should not, be as bad as they look when they are losing.
Show some pride for crying out loud. There are bad NHL teams that don’t hang their goaltenders out to dry as much as St. Louis has.
It’s easy to blame the goalies when things are down. Both Allen and Hutton have shed more light on the real problems of this team lately. When your goaltenders are doing everything they can to keep the puck out, you can see the deficiencies in the defending and inability to score.
At this point, it may be too late for this team to change for this year. As a fan of the Blues and goaltenders in general, it will be very disappointing for the goalies to turn their season around but the team not respond for them.