The St. Louis Blues are off to one of the strangest starts to a season in recent memory. Not only have they lost all their even numbered games, but they have played exceedingly poorly in those games.
The fact they got one point out of the three losses is a testament to how good this team can be, even when playing poorly. Unfortunately, that point did not come when Ville Husso was in net.
The one point in a loss came when the Blues faced the San Jose Sharks and simply had no offense. The rest of their game was ok, but just ok.
The Blues have been anything but ok in the games Husso has featured in. While he gets the bulk of the blame from the fan base, the problem is that’s too simplistic a view.
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A quick glance at Husso’s stats will let you know how bad things have been. In two appearances, he has an astounding 7.03 goals against average and an astoundingly low .813 save percentage.
Many will perform the look at that gesture with eyes bugging out of their head, wondering how someone could defend that. There is no defending the numbers, but there is no defending the team in front of Husso either.
When you really break it down, you have to look at which goals Husso had a chance on. There really have not been many.
The first goal he gave up against Colorado was on the power play. In fact, three of the first four surrendered by Husso were while St. Louis was shorthanded. On that initial one, the Blues just stood, flat-footed, while Nathan MacKinnon raced by them all and after Husso made the save, the net was gaping for the rebound goal.
You could say Husso should have had better rebound control. It’s no simple task to purposely direct a puck fired with pace and at close range, the way MacKinnon’s shot was.
The second, Husso’s reaction time might have been slower than we’d like to see, but it was a breakaway from MacKinnon who is one of the best scorers in the game. You expect him to score in those situations when the defense did not even touch him as he came through the middle.
Husso stood no chance on the third either. He reacted to save the initial drive from the point, which all goaltenders would. It took a deflection in front and the puck went to the spot Husso had vacated. There’s nothing else he could have done.
Would it have been nice to see Husso stop the Devon Toews goal? Sure. However, he had 6’4 Valeri Nichushkin standing right in front of him, forcing him slightly off center so that he could see. There was absolutely nobody within a couple feet of Nichushkin to box him out of there.
In the game where Husso started, you could tell he did not look overly confident. He seemed hesitant and slightly nervous.
Even then, he made some early saves and if the team in front of him would have responded, it would have been alright. They did not.
This is the goal Husso cannot let in. Since it’s such an odd goal, it’s hard to pinpoint what he should have done differently. It’s easy to say he needs to be tighter to the post, which he does, but whichever way you slice it, that puck just cannot go in. Still, it’s another power play goal against.
There was a lot of social media reaction to this goal and it’s understandable why. Husso essentially got frozen, so to the eye, it did not look good.
Remove all this nonsense from your head about million dollar contracts and professionals being better than anything we expect of normal people. The bottom line is that shot came from around 10 feet away from goal. With as hard as these pucks are shot, there is so little reaction time from that close that nobody should be expected to save it and if they do, kudos to them.
You would like to see Husso stay a little more square and keep that glovehand higher. But, again, it’s a backhander that you can never tell where it might go and from close range. That’s tough.
This goal is just bad luck for Husso. He’s actually well positioned and the final replay shows the puck was likely headed wide on the initial shot. It happened to ping pong off Anze Kopitar, making the puck unreadable from that close and unsaveable unless it just hits Husso.
Not sure what else could be done here. The naysayers will point to how Husso got juked out, but nine out of 10 goalies react to that move.
He actually makes the toe save with an athletic move. There was no defensive help to avoid two whacks at the puck after the stop was made.
Four out of the nine goals surrendered by Husso have been while the Blues were killing a penalty. Several have been the direct results of either turnovers or failure to clear the zone.
I say there was only one of those goals he should have definitely had. At most, there were two.
Where is the help? Why is Husso, or either goaltender when playing in the second game of the series, not getting the defensive help we saw in the very first game of the season?
St. Louis was doing all the little things then. They boxed out, letting the goalie see things.
The Blues swept rebounds out like crazy and were going down for blocks like it was the playoffs. You can’t do that an entire season, but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it at all for entire games.
The reaction to Husso’s slow start is unnerving, but expected. Given Blues fans penchant for jumping to the automatic conclusion that it’s that goalie’s fault and someone else would have done better, you knew this was coming.
Social media has already jumped on the Jon Gillies bandwagon. No offense to him, but if that is the hope this team rests on for a backup goaltender then the franchise has failed.
Joel Hofer is at least two years out. Binnington is a free agent this summer.
If we are willing to believe Husso has no talent and should be given up on after two appearances (not even two full games) then that’s saying the Blues have been wrong in net for years. They were wrong to stick with Jake Allen (according to the masses) and somehow were now wrong for letting him go to give Husso a chance.
There is no doubt that Husso has not looked comfortable. Perhaps we all got spoiled with how Binnington just slid right in with no hiccups.
Body language does not mean he’s bad and does not excuse the team in front of him. Give Husso the same effort the Blues have shown in their three wins and he’s got a W under his belt too.