The St. Louis Blues are starting to show plenty of cracks in the foundation right now. The question is whether they are vertical ones that can be repaired or horizontal ones that can ruin the entire structure.
Those of us that realize any season has ups and downs, good times and bad, know that you can’t play perfectly for an entire year. It’s impossible, so you shouldn’t even hope for it. However, game to game, it is hard not to be frustrated when the St. Louis Blues are playing nowhere near their capability.
Those of you that could watch the game against Los Angeles were treated to an early showing of the Walking Dead. Normally you have to wait until Sundays for that show to come on, but the Blues embodied that show. The game was full of zombies and people making silly decisions that defy logic, just like the show.
What has become worrying is that this is now a trend for St. Louis. Win or lose, these are the kind of games we have seen the last four in a row.
Where is the fire?
I do my best never to question the team’s “effort” out there these days. If you really think about it, no player shows up to the rink saying they think they’ll half-hearted effort. Everyone goes in with the intention of playing hard and sometimes the mind or body just doesn’t follow.
That said, it’s discouraging to see several key Blues not playing a full 60 and at times not going hard for a full shift. Not to point a finger, since the entire team was lackluster, but there was a goal where Alexander Steen completely gave up on his defensive assignment.
Now, you can forgive him a bit since you could clearly ask what the *bleep* the defenders were doing with the puck. Nevertheless, the entire play was emblematic of how the Blues played for most of the game.
The Blues score on the power play and Patrik Berglund gets his first.
The Blues power play has been a struggle for years – at least it feels like it. This season is just an example of the overall issues.
However, the Blues finally broke the streak by scoring one with the man advantage. It was also Berg-dog’s first goal of the season.
It was a fine play, but one that makes you question why the Blues can’t do that more often. We’re not even talking just about scoring. They had guys in front of the net and took shots. The Blues seem to not realize what really works and try the same things over and over.
The goal shows the problems the team constantly has.
You look at the goal and within the context of the game it makes you happy. Given the result, it does nothing but frustrate you.
Just look at the first five seconds of the video there. The passes are crisp and decisive.
That’s rarely the case on the power play these days. St. Louis seems to always want the perfect play.
They got a deflection goal. The Blues seem to only want one-timers on the back door.
There were two players right in front of the goal and three players within 10 feet of the net. Normally, the slot and the front of the net is a Bermuda Triangle, where no man dares to go.
It’s just mind boggling why the team cannot understand that is the stuff that works and not go back to the nonsense that does not.
The Blues won the hit and faceoff battles.
When the team is playing somewhat poorly, you have to look for small things to build on. Nobody is going to take solace in winning these things, but they do matter.
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The numbers are a far cry from the physical battles we saw when these teams would duke it out in the playoffs. However, St. Louis was statistically more physical.
The Blues won more faceoffs as well, which may have kept the scoreline more tenable.
Again, these are small things. However, they are things we’ve picked on for ages and when it does right, you should notice.
The shot totals are becoming pointless.
In several recent games, the Blues have either outshot their opponent or had a high shot total. Both of those were true of the game against the Kings.
The problem is it’s all fluff or fool’s gold. They are not true chance.
The Blues had 40 shots, but how many were real threats at goal? I’d say 60-75% of the shots were from outside or places on the ice where you can’t really hope to score.
Many of the shots that were not from the outside were still wide open looks for the goaltender. In today’s NHL, even with increased scoring, if you give the goaltender a good look they’re going to save it most times.
Right now, all the Blues are doing is padding goaltender’s stats. You can’t take credit away from the goalies completely, since they’ve made some good saves when St. Louis does turn it on. For the most part, they are not troubled too much despite the heavier workload.
The goaltenders have become human.
The Blues were the beneficiary of some great goaltending to start the year. Suddenly, they are quite human in their last performances.
In recent games, neither Jake Allen nor Carter Hutton have been able to bail the team out. Allen was quite poor against Anaheim and now Hutton had his first real blunder against the Kings.
The disheartening thing is usually the goalies pick the team up. Last night, a shot Hutton could have had somewhat crushed any momentum the Blues had going at the time.
As a proud supporter of the goaltender’s union, I realize that was screened and through the legs. Still, you have to find a way to stop that. St. Louis had cut the lead in half and you cannot have a goal like that go in to stifle a comeback attempt.
Now, we’re worried.
It’s easy to say you can’t win them all and these games happen – they do. However, this is several games in a row where the product on the ice has not been up to snuff.
We do have to remember that LA is a first place team too and there are always things they are doing to take the Blues out of their game. However, when you just don’t see the Blues even resembling what we know they are capable of, it is frustrating.
As fans, we hate to lose. You can take it if you see a good effort though and it just was not enough to beat a better team. Too many of the losses have not been that case.
St. Louis has a chance to turn it around as they have a game in Minnesota immediately.