There are two sides to every coin. Those sides rarely see the other’s point of view since they are on opposite sides, but that does not mean both can’t be right.
The St. Louis Blues are having a rough time in December. If we make the coin analogy work throughout this article, then this month is about as bad as the first month of the season was good.
However, as with any coin, there are two sides to the equation. Both are very different, but both are quite true.
When thinking of the St. Louis Blues, from the fans’ perspective, I’m reminded of George Lucas. I know, many are wondering how in the world the creator of Star Wars has anything to do with this.
Well, nerds such as myself, like to watch anything to do with Star Wars. There is a great documentary on the bonus features of the original trilogy DVDs called Empire of Dreams.
They go into detail about how the story came about and what Lucas had to go through to get his films made. They also talk to the actors about Lucas himself.
One of the lines that sticks in my head is something Harrison Ford said about Lucas. “He’s a little impatient with the process of acting,” said Ford in the documentary. “He thinks it’s there. It’s right there. I wrote it down, just do that. Well, sometimes you can’t just do that and make it work.”
That’s basically how fans are with the team, during the bad times especially, but even the good. Fans oversimplify.
We watch games and, like Lucas, say Just go out there and do it! We want them to perform up to perfect standards night in and out.
That is simply impossible. Even the finest tuned athlete is not going to have the same performance every single game. Sometimes we get too involved in our own team to realize that other players on other teams struggle.
As fans, we look at the stats and wonder why our guys are not doing the same thing. We fail to realize that they go through their own slumps and their fans are whining about the same things.
Like Lucas, we often fail to understand the process that goes into being a pro athlete. You’re sore, tired, mentally drained and want to just stay in bed, like any human being. Like any person with their job, sometimes you just don’t want to go to work, no matter how much anyone would trade to have your position.
However, the flip side of that argument is that the players are not getting the job done. To keep the Star Wars analogy going, just because fans have unrealistic expectations, does not mean greatness cannot be achieved by those actually involved in the process.
The Blues, no matter how kind or vicious we want to be toward them, are simply not getting the job done right now. The irritating thing is it is small things that could change losses into wins.
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There have been lots of games this season you could point to not having enough effort. In the grand scheme, that is not the problem.
When the Blues lost to Dallas, there was plenty of effort. The issue is where that effort comes.
St. Louis had a ton of shots, but there were not enough rebound attempts. It’s great to throw pucks toward goal, but when there are not enough second and third and fourth chances after that, you’re letting goaltenders off the hook.
The broadcast team is giving the opposing goaltenders a lot of credit and they do deserve some. However, the Blues players are not doing enough to get those extra chances.
We hear the phrase dirty areas a lot and that is another issue with this team. Both goals against Dallas and most of the goals they’ve had within December have come off the initial shot.
Other than a few deflections, they are not getting into those dirty areas. That basically means there are not enough guys in front of the net, paying the price to score those rebound goals.
Maybe they don’t want to get crosschecked or maybe they are worried about getting hit with pucks. Whatever the reason, there is not enough traffic on the offensive end.
Defensively, this team is getting into bad habits. They don’t do it often within a game, but once or twice a game, the Blues are guilty of puck watching. The problem with that is that the Blues are being made to pay for their puck watching now, whereas they got away with it earlier in the season.
The goaltending does not get off the hook here either. Both Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have played very well of late and are not getting rewarded for their efforts.
Still, they do shoulder some blame. When the team is not playing well in front of you, it takes superhuman effort to break them out of it. We got that with regularity in October, but lately the duo has been a little more human.
They’re getting caught cheating or lunging out. Their movements are getting a little more erratic since they know the defending is not as good in front of them. You can tell there is a little bit of pressing going on.
That is very true of the entire team. They seem to be lost, like a baseball team that has gone cold in their lineup one through nine. Every player is doing their best, individually, to get out of the slump, but they are not connecting as a team.
Circling back to the coin issue, this team is going like a coin flipping through the air. We see plenty of good things, but you still have a 50/50 chance of losing.
No matter how well or how poor you play, there is still another team across the ice trying to do the same things in their own favor.
Like Lucas, we sometimes forget there are so many things going into each game. We think it all boils down to what our team did or did not do. However, there are other teams trying to score and stop the Blues from scoring too.
The bottom line is that everyone is actually right and everyone is wrong. Fans expect way too much because we do not understand the process. We think they should just be able to do it.
However, the players are simply not doing enough and if they are honest, they’d tell you the same thing. There is still no reason to completely bail, though.
Mike Yeo said after the Dallas game that you’re never as good as it seems when things are great, but you’re never as bad as it seems when things are terrible. The Blues will find a way out of this mess. The main question now, is whether it will be too late when they do.