Find some nastiness
Springboarding off the previous idea, the Blues need to find, or re-find, a little nastiness. As with everything in sports, that’s easier said than done.
The Blues have two things going against them in this department.
First, they’ve become a more skilled team. While we should never take anything away from the Stanley Cup squad of 2019, they won on will more than skill. The Blues now have four lines that can all score goals, if they would ever get healthy.
In today’s game, there’s not as much mix with skill and a mean streak. There are still a few players that play with and edge, but the skill and toughness era kind of ended when Keith Tkachuk and his counterparts started retiring.
Second, the Blues are always up against fan perception. For good reason, we latched onto that 2019 playoff performance like a dog who has not eaten in a week on a piece of meat.
St. Louis was mesmerized by the way the Blues just ground their opponents into dust. The hits were not Scott Stevens bone crushers, but every body check drained some energy out of the opponent just like a Mortal Kombat health meter.
The problem was, no matter how much we are told this, you simply cannot play a regular season in that style. Fans still expect to see the Blues with 30-40 hits per night and it’s just not realistic.
That said, the majority of the players on this team were on that 2019 team. We know it’s in them.
Added skill or not, this team is capable of wearing out anyone in the league.
Faulk might not be as tall as Pietrangelo, but I’d argue he’s just as willing, if not more willing, to rough people up along the boards. Pavel Buchnevich is new to this team, but he has grasped what Berube expects of his players very quickly.
The parts are all there. The team just has to find the will again.
If that does not come until the 2022 playoffs, that’s fine. However, we have seen this team is not capable of just flipping a switch, so they need to start ramping thigs up as the season goes along.
Nobody is asking for this to be 1970’s hockey with fights and two-handed slashes to the spine. We just want a little mean streak.
The Blues need to get in on the forecheck the way they used to. Make defenders think twice about holding the puck behind the net too long. It’s all in there. They just have to bring it out.