The St. Louis Blues have several problems that have reared their heads over the last few weeks. However, there is one major problem that might keep them from going far this year.
The St. Louis Blues are in the midst of their league imposed bye week. Apparently these have been a thing for awhile and fans were somewhat unaware. Regardless, the team needs to spend the time off constructively.
On the one hand, you want to allow your players to have some time away from the rink. A little time away from the game, not having to think about things could be good for them.
Or, they could get into the practice rink and get some reps to practice things they’ve lost the ability to do. The power play jumps to mind.
St. Louis has had issues with their man-advantage for years. It’s not a Mike Yeo thing or a Ken Hitchcock thing. It’s become a St. Louis Blues thing.
We’ve discussed the issues in several articles. They are hesitant to shoot, make too many passes and are a bit slowin their decision making.
A week will not cure all, but it could cure some. The Blues could easily work on making quicker passes and regain some team chemistry. If you know where someone will be, instead of assuming, it is easier to make good plays.
The Blues currently have one of the league’s worst power plays. While they have risen back to 23, mostly due to the ineptitude of other teams, they have been as low as 28th in the league in terms of goals scored on the power play.
That’s not much of a silver lining. In terms of percentage, they are 29th in the league.
The Blues shave had plenty of issues in the past. It is hard to recollect anything this bad outside of those lean years in the mid-2000’s.
Now, it must be said that percentages are not everything. Pittsburgh leads the league, but they are one point out of last place in their division.
The flip side is the majority of good teams have a good power play. The lone exception is Columbus, which has the worst power play in the league, but currently sits in second place in their division.
Making matters worse is the fact that this is not some statistical anomaly. This is not like a pitcher who had one bad game and got an inflated ERA.
The Blues have drawn the seventh most penalties in the league. They’re very good at drawing penalties. Clearly, they are not good at scoring on those opportunities.
23 goals on the power play is just not cutting it. If you have championship aspirations, you have to be able to make teams pay.
That was the team’s biggest issue against Nashville in the 2017 playoffs. If the Blues had been able to score on the power play, they might have won that series. They gave the Predators the biggest test of any Western Conference team as it was.
Mike Yeo does have some blame in this. He’s only had one team above the league average on the power play during his tenure as an NHL coach.
For all his positives as a coach, he or his staff, seem unable to make the necessary adjustments to make the unit better. How they cannot score with the talent they have is frightening though.
They have five players capable of scoring 20 or more goals. You should not be completely ineffective with that kind of talent, plus a strong, offensive defense.
No, the Blues need to work on this during the week off. That is not to say they need to spend eight hours a day in the rink. That’s unrealistic and unproductive.
They cannot simply pretend this is not an issue though. It’s one thing to not score goals, but they do not even look like they can challenge penalty kills at the moment.
The coaching staff must figure this out. The Blues need to get their special teams clicking on the other side of this bye week.