By Brad Lee
While looking around the Internets for news about the St. Louis Blues, sometimes what we read makes us pause. And then scratch our heads. And then squint at the monitor making sure we understand what we're reading.
Such a head-scratching experience happened this morning while reading a Jeremy Rutherford story about the Blues trying to figure out why they haven't scored more goals this year. Kudos to J.R. for doing a bangup job on his beat. He's been the Post's Blues guy since the lockout, meaning he's covered possibly the worst stretch of time in franchise history. We can relate since most of the folks who work on Game Time started doing underground hockey "journalism" when GT started after the lockout. But this story below amazes us (J.R. in bold).
Blues to analyze why they haven't put more pucks in net
When Blues management sits down to analyze the 2007-08 season, President John Davidson said, the answer everyone will be seeking is why the Blues failed to score more regularly.
The word "to" in the headline is interesting. That implies the Blues haven't done this yet. You think the coaches just picked up the paper one day and said, "Hey, in this GF column, we have a really low number compared to most teams. Whadya think that means?" And then the lead of the story says J.D. will be looking for that answer when analyzing the season. You think he has April 6 circled on his calendar for that task?
While their 2.5 goals-per-game average suggests they can pull it off, the Blues still need 11 goals in their final 14 games to avoid a franchise record for fewest goals in a season (177 in 1967-68).
That's an interesting paragraph. First of all Rutherford did something really, really lazy. He looked at the NHL standings to figure out that the Blues have scored 167 goals on the season. But if he had looked on the NHL stats page and looked under Goals For to see that the Blues have actually scored 165. The difference is that the standings page counts total score including shootouts. Why the NHL does this and has contrary Goals For totals on two different pages on their own Web site is beyond me. If no player gets credit in his statistics for a shootout goal, then the team shouldn't either in its team total. So they need 13 to not be the lowest scoring team in Blues history.
What's also amazing is that the 2005-06 team that finished dead last in the NHL standings that season wasn't the lowest scoring Blues team ever. Nooooo. That team scored 193 goals. That was Mike Kitchen's only full season as the Blues head coach. To think that the Blues need to score 28 more goals in 14 games just to tie that team is reason enough to start drinking before noon.
"For whatever reason, we haven't scored and we have to figure out why," Davidson said Sunday, one day after the Blues' 4-2 loss to Vancouver, in which they got both goals from team leader Brad Boyes (Nos. 33 and 34).When asked whether he had any leads on the Blues' scoring problems, Davidson responded: "No … there's a lot of variables that we'll have to sift through."
Here are some variables: Paul Kariya has apparently forgotten how to score or make a pass that leads to a score. The leading Blues goal scorer last year, Lee Stempniak, has 11 goals. David Perron has only played 48 games. Erik Johnson leads defensemen in goals with four. Bradley Boyes has seen stretches where he struggled. Before netting thos two, he hadn't scored in eight straight games. The varying variables have varied between shitty and crappy.Through the first 41 games of the season, the Blues scored 107 goals, or 2.6 per game. They had a record of 22-14-5 in that stretch, placing them second in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference with several games in hand. Ahhhh, those were the days. To score 2.6 per game, good for 2oth in the NHL, was truly living a charmed life. How I miss those days.
But in their last 27 games, the Blues have totaled 60 goals, or 2.2 per game. That figure includes back-to-back five-goal games against Columbus and Chicago; take those two games out and the average is about two goals per game since the halfway point.
Where is that bartender when you need him?
It was after those wins over Columbus and Chicago — Feb. 17 and 19 — that the Blues headed out West and appeared poised to make a playoff push. Since then, however, the Blues have scored only 10 goals in nine games and, as a result, they are 1-7-1 in those games.
It was also during this time that we kept seeing on-screen promos for Playoff Push Packs. Apparently the Blues marketing department has a weird sense of humor.
"That was a key part of the season to me, because we were still in it," Davidson said. "We played hard, but the puck wouldn't go in."Davidson feels the team has continued to play hard despite the limited results."The one promise we made to the fans was we wouldn't be outworked," Davidson said. "I'd like to see us stay with that, win some games, get confident again. I'm not going to have this season be completely wasted. We want to think about the good things … the emergence of Erik Johnson, the play of Manny Legace, the penalty kill. There's been some good things happen."
It's much easier for Davidson to make that statement about the Blues not getting outworked after a good game in Vancouver Saturday. With games tonight in Calgary and Tuesday night in Edmonton, we'll see if the team sticks to that one promise.
Are you buying Davidson's spin in the last paragraph? Tell us in the comments.