The St. Louis Blues have plenty of reasons to be down as they entered their bye week. They can’t seem to pick up wins consistently and it is time to start looking at the players specifically.
The St. Louis Blues have plenty of problems this season and most fans have picked up on those issues. However, who to blame is still up in the air.
There are the usual suspects that take fan blame, mostly because they are the constants from year to year. The general manager takes a lot of blame, normally for contract numbers or not making video game trades that are unrealistic in reality, but fans seem convinced would be easy if they were in charge.
There is also the coaching staff that takes some blame. That one is also one that makes a lot of sense, but gets overblown as well.
Clearly this staff is not making some adjustments where they have to be made. Nevertheless, there is only so much that a coach can change.
A coach can yell at you until they are blue in the face. It is still up to a player to make the necessary changes to implement the coach’s vision.
With that in mind, it is time to start looking at the players specifically. That is not to say that fans have not looked at players before as the problem with this team, but there are too many individuals shouldering blame. It belongs on the players as a group.
The reason I say this is that so many of the problems have carried over, to varying degrees, from team to team. Regardless of who has been behind the bench, this team has a certain set of problems that seems very ingrained within their minds at this point.
The biggest thing that jumps out is the power play right now. We have not seem the power play struggle to the point it has this season, so Mike Yeo needs to shoulder a lot of the blame there and we’ve discussed that.
However, the Blues power play has been very iffy for years now. It’s always the same issues too.
The team passes too much, is indecisive in important moments and gets caught taking shots from the wall or from distance way too much. They are predictable and also quite slow and try to go east-west way too much, which was something they always admit is a bad thing at full strength.
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If that is the case, why is it not a bad thing on the power play? Clearly, it is harder to go north when you are bunched in the offensive zone, but there is not enough setting up behind the net. Everything goes from the point to the half-wall.
That has been the case no matter who was in charge of the power play. No matter what system they were trying to run, the passes are just not there or not quick enough or the shots are not taken when they should be. There is also a big problem with guys not going to the front of the net.
Fans like to remember the good old days when they had David Backes. Even with him and some of the bigger bodies of the old teams, they didn’t like going to the front of the net. That has been an issue fans have complained about for years and we simply forget and think it’s only the recent teams.
The same problems keep popping up at full strength as well. There is not enough north-south movement. The shots do not come at the right times or there is a failure to convert on open chances.
The speed and determination are lacking at important moments. The team does not play a full 60 minutes. They don’t want to go to the dirty areas of the ice.
Are these starting to ring bells as things we complained about with Ken Hitchcock? They certainly should.
It’s not just a Hitch problem either. Though the number of players has decreased, these were problems dating back to Davis Payne and even Andy Murray.
No offense to the core of this team, because we love most of these guys, but they are clearly the problem.
Maybe there is a lack of mental toughness. After all, they’ve been rewarded time after time by firing coaches to give them a fresh start and the problems persist.
Clearly there is talent there or else this team would not be so high in the standings consistently. However, adversity and challenge are something you have to deal with to be a good playoff team.
That is definitely something the Blues have not been regardless of the coach or GM. The Blues exited early in the playoffs just as much under Larry Pleau as they have Doug Armstrong.
As said at the beginning, this is a team-wide epidemic. The coaching staff has to take blame and so does the general manager for coddling some of these players and not getting in different players when given the chance.
However, this team is built to win. Eventually we have to look at the guys that take the ice night in and out and ask why they cannot get it done in spite of the other issues like so many other teams do.
The players have to make the decision that their effort is not good enough on the power play. Eventually they have to figure out that they are leaving their goaltenders out to dry and have done so with semi-regularity for the last decade really.
The same things keep popping up and are not cleared up. You might wonder why no specific names have been mentioned. It’s because it is not a one or two player issue.
The Blues, as a squad, have to decide to be better. Clearly they can be.
After a dismal December and a mediocre start to January, they are still in a guaranteed playoff spot and challenging for the top divisional spot. You don’t do that if there is not talent there.
Clearly, over the course of this franchise’s history, we’ve seen that talent is not always enough. It’s time for these players to figure that out and give the fans and, more importantly themselves, the effort that will put them over the hump.