How The Front Office Failed

Halak, a first round pick, and a conditional pick. - Jonathan Daniel

Critical mistakes in 2 areas doomed the Blues.

I wrote this Saturday night. Like Brad, I just knew. The fact that the Blues out shot the Hawks in Game 6 (as well as the series as a whole) just makes their over-estimation of Miller all the more obvious.


Mistakes in construction of the team.

There are two basic ways to win hockey games. One is to out-shoot your opponent. The other is to out-goaltend your opponent. The second may work at times but is not a recipe for sustained success (ask any Leafs fan). Unfortunately for the Blues, the best teams in shot differential are in the Western Conference. The road out of the Central Division certainly runs through Chicago. The road out of the Western Conference also goes through LA or San Jose. Looking at Shots Against, the Blues look pretty good.

Team

SA

NHL Rank

Los Angeles Kings

2150

2

St. Louis Blues

2163

3

Chicago Blackhawks

2229

4

San Jose Sharks

2282

6

Anaheim Ducks

2354

9

But Shots For shows the Blues in the bottom third of the league.

Team

SF

NHL Rank

San Jose Sharks

2851

1

Chicago Blackhawks

2717

3

Los Angeles Kings

2595

7

Anaheim Ducks

2569

8

St. Louis Blues

2403

22

Net Shots is positive, but the three teams above the Blues are the teams they would likely need to beat to advance to the SCF and the gap is a big one.

Team

Net Shots

NHL Rank

San Jose Sharks

569

1

Chicago Blackhawks

488

2

Los Angeles Kings

445

3

St. Louis Blues

240

5

Anaheim Ducks

215

7

Faced with this choice, the Front Office chose the wrong option. They went with the option that, over the long haul, doesn't work. But then they compounded their mistake.


Mistakes in evaluation of players.

Steve Ott was a terrible acquisition. Stewart may be maddeningly inconsistent but at least once in a while he made a positive contribution. Ott was relentlessly awful. Not only was he the worst player on the Blues but, by some metrics, down the stretch he was the worst player in the league. There are two possibilities behind the acquisition of Ott, neither of which makes me happy. One is that no one on the Blues scouted Ott. The other, which is probably worse, it that someone watched him play and said "That's our guy". Either way I think somebody ought to lose their job.

Bad enough to have chosen the out-goaltend option. In acquiring Ott, they also managed to make their offense worse and put more pressure on the goalie's performance.

Ryan Miller is another huge evaluation mistake. If you decide to go the better goaltender route your goalie has to be a lot better than the other team's goalie.

Goalie

Career ES Save Percentage

Ryan Miller

0.923

Jaroslav Halak

0.925

Corey Crawford

0.924

Anttii Niemi

0.924

Jonathan Quick

0.923

Jonas Hiller

0.927

People may think Ryan Miller LOOKS like a great goaltender. Unfortunately, he doesn't FUNCTION like a great goaltender. Miller has an economy of motion. He looks calm compared to other goalies. In his case, calm and composed doesn't keep the puck out of the net.

Given the gap in shot differentials between the Blues and the teams above them, Miller would have to be elite level (0.930 – 0.931) just to bring the odds of the Blues winning a series up to 50:50. Miller just isn't that good.

I knew that. I'm not Urpo Ylönen , the Goalie Whisperer, in some mountain cave in Finland. I'm just some guy with a laptop. If I knew it, then people in the Front Office, who are being paid to know these things, should know it too. They didn't.

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