St. Louis Blues: On The Ninth Day Of Bluesmas 2017

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 21: Joel Edmundson
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 21: Joel Edmundson /

The St. Louis Blues managed to live off more than two months of greatness for one line. Now that line has been decimated by injury and the team needs to pick up the pieces.

On the ninth day of Bluesmas, my true Blues gave to me, nine forwards clicking, a coach that understands how to utilize younger players, seven retired numbers, six goose eggs laid, five scorers scoring, fourth best defending, three reinforced skates, two great goaltenders and an Adidas sweater under the tree. The St. Louis Blue lived off the accomplishments of a few for so long, but cannot sustain that any longer.

When the 2017-18 season began, we did not know what to expect from this lineup. There were injuries to over a third of the projected opening day lineup, right from the word go.

We did not know how Brayden Schenn would fit in with the team. We knew he scored a lot on the power play in Philadelphia, but there were questions about even strength play and work rate.

There was a question of how healthy certain players were or if they could bounce back, in the case of Jaden Schwartz. And there is the ever present question of how good we really think Vladimir Tarasenko is. Nobody can answer that except yourself, though.

Once the Blues got rolling, what we ended up with was one line dominating things and an extra player doing what he’s supposed to do. So, in the end, it was one line’s worth of forwards doing the lion’s share.

Schwartz, Schenn and Tarasenko were dominating opponents. Schenn and Schwartz formed a quick relationship and seemed to feed off the other. They made each other better and drove the other to strive for more each time out.

It was almost irrelevant who was on the opposite wing for that line. Those two were going to get their points.

The Blues did put Tarasenko with that pair a few times and it worked to good effect. However, Vlady started the season very well regardless, so it made sense to attempt spreading out the scoring.

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Unfortunately, injury kept striking the Blues like an angry viper, unleashing more venom with each bite. Now, the Blues are in quite a different position.

At the time of his injury, Schwartz was the team’s leading point scorer. Schenn has taken that role over now, but the roll that he was on has slowed quite a bit.

The laws of physics say that a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless met with a force to stop it. That one injury was a major force.

The Blues are still more than talented enough to get things done, despite what we have seen over the last two weeks or so. Nevertheless, they had become too accustomed to that line doing everything for them.

Now, the Blues need all nine forwards to get their act together. Yes, every team has twelve forwards, but as great as the fourth line plays, you still should not expect them to produce points. That is what you have your top three lines for.

If you want to make the case the “fourth” line is the “third” line, the point remains the same. The Blues have to have a total team effort from their actual scoring lines.

Even when their stars were playing at their very best, this team needed to be better middle to bottom. Now, with the top guys misfiring some cylinders, the team must be more.

We all love the guys that suit up, but this was never a team built around one or two guys. It’s always been a squad that needed to be more than the sum of its parts.

Tarasenko is a star around the league, but he has yet to find ways to carry the team on his shoulders every single game. He needs support.

The entire team needs support. That is what they were getting in the early part of the season and now are not.

Even if the big guns were doing the scoring, the other lines were doing those little things. Those intangibles are not as noticeable now, so it becomes that much easier to notice that many players are not scoring.

Despite their lack of success lately, the Blues are still fourth in the conference in scoring. The problem there is only three guys have double-digit goals. Only two more, including one defenseman, are even remotely close to getting 10.

That’s not good enough from guys that have to step up. The Blues need more from names like Stastny, Berglund, Steen and Sobotka.

Those guys are not playing bad, but you cannot go through a season and say you just gave a good effort. There has to be something tangible for those efforts.

When the Blues get healthy, they will start to click again with those top names. That cannot be all this team is, though, if they want to be serious contenders.

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Lazy people will just rely on the tired argument that Tarasenko is not doing enough or the top line is not good now. Schenn is still in the top 10 in scoring. Tarasenko is in the top 20 and only five points off the top 10. Other guys do need to help.

They must find a way to get all nine forwards that are expected to produce going. Nobody is saying 20-30 goals for all. That is unrealistic.

They have to do more than they are doing now. You cannot keep hoping your goaltenders will allow 0-1 goal per game. This team is too good to keep faltering because one man is out.

The top nine must score or this team will not last.