With the absence of David Perron and T.J. Oshie because of injuries, a lot of focus has been placed on the trouble the Blues have had scoring goals. Obviously that's important, but it's not like scoring wasn't an issue when they were healthy. Since their injuries, the team has had more trouble on the penalty kill and defense in general.
There's a clear demarcation line for the defense, and it starts with Oshie's injury Nov. 10 in Columbus. Of course it also coincides with Barret Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo and Roman Polak going down, but even without those guys in the lineup, the Blues were still able to travel to Boston and Madison Square Garden to post 2-1 and 2-0 wins respectively. Jackman was lost in the same game as Perron on Nov. 4 against San Jose. The Blues were still holding it together until that game in Columbus where they allowed eight goals and part of the glue holding this team together was lost to a broken leg.
In the first 14 games of the year, the Blues allowed seven power play goals and 23 total goals in regulation. In their last nine - since Oshie was injured, the Blues have allowed 10 power play goals and 38 in regulation. That means they were allowing a power play goal every other game to more than one every game and a goals-against average of 1.643 to 4.222. Of course goaltending has played a part and no one will argue that Jaroslav Halak has been pedestrian at times in November, but the guys on the ice in front of him are a big part of it. Let's not even talk about Ty Conklin.
When Oshie was healthy, the forwards on the penalty kill were Jay McClement and B.J. Crombeen followed by Oshie and David Backes. In those eight games since Oshie broke his leg, Backes has taken nine minor penalties. That means the second unit has had the fifth and sixth best penalty-killing forwards playing important minutes. Alex Steen, Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka have all been on the ice for power play goals allowed. McDonald has more than 24 minutes of ice time on the penalty kill, taking some of his time and energy away from even strength and power play time when the team needs his creativity to score goals. McClement now leads the team with more than 80 minutes on the penalty kill, a category he was not leading when Oshie was healthy. Trust me, we're watching all of McClement's stats carefully this year.
If the Blues could find another defensive forward, it might stem some of the bleeding on defense, fix the penalty kill and convert some of the team's energy to scoring goals. Of course, there's a chance they could just use a scorer and that would fix everything.
Blues fans, what are you seeing on the penalty kill? What's wrong with the defense? Where do they miss Oshie the most? Make your case in the comments.