Sometimes, there are low points in a hockey season. For the Blues, that seems to come about halfway through the year, when the slog starts to catch up to them. Sometimes it happens when Jaden Schwartz is injured and out of the lineup.
It’s been a while since the Blues have started off a season with this much of a dull thud, though.
The offense is basically non-existent. In their last eight games, six of which they’ve lost and five of which they’ve failed to get a point, they’ve scored 13 goals. That’s not great, but it’s even worse when you realize that six of those came against the Calgary Flames on October 22nd. They haven’t scored an even strength first period goal since October 15th against the New York Rangers.
There are issues here. There are concerning issues here. I know that sometimes this site gets criticized for slagging on the Blues when they’re down, but most of us here employ sarcasm as a survival technique. It seems to be more effective than whatever the Blues are trying to do.
The team’s usual survival technique is to rely on their defense and Ken Hitchcock’s system; the goaltenders benefit greatly from it when it works (see: Elliott, Brian). When it doesn’t work, the goalies suffer. Jake Allen has allowed nine goals in his last two games. Carter Hutton gets the call tonight. For his sake, let’s hope the defense gets their ducks in a row.
“It was a real tough trip for us,” goalie Jake Allen said, “definitely not what we wanted. We’re going to have to turn it around quick or we’re going to fall behind too far. The bounces eventually will start going our way, I hope, for my sake personally and for our team’s sake. If it doesn’t, we’re going to have to find another way to get some success.”
It’s not all about bounces at this point, Jake. There is a consistent lack of execution in defense that is starting to become more threatening than the team’s lack of goalscoring. The Blues will have plenty of time this month to set things right - the schedule is packed, with 11 home games and a couple of back to backs. But to say that the pressure isn’t on them to fix whatever is broken would be a fallacy. Something is very not right.
I’m sure that will be fixed by benching Yakupov, who had a couple good chances Thursday evening, and by inserting Ryan Reaves into the lineup tonight.
"Just play complete games," Hutton added. "We show flashes of it but we haven't been able to put it together completely. That's something we'll focus on tonight, a hard-working mentality and doing the right things. That will lead us to success.
"It's a long season," he added. "There's a lot of hockey left to be played. Considering how tough it's been, we're still in pretty good shape here."
Hutton has already learned the “complete game” script. It’s a shame that the Blues still haven’t figured it out yet this season.