One day, a hockey team fell in love with scoring, aided by lucky bounces, skilled minds and a sudden grasp of execution.
What is this team drinking?
In the month of February, the St. Louis Blues won five games in a row but only averaged a little over 3 goals per game and scored two goals in three straight wins. After outlasting the Dallas Stars 5-4 in overtime on Saturday night, the Blues have won six games in a row. The difference during this streak is that they have averaged 4.3 goals per game and scored at least three goals in each of these wins. In five of the six wins, the Note have scored four goals or more.
They aren't beating crap teams either. The Blues have beaten four potential playoff teams in a row in MInnesota(away), Chicago(home), Anaheim(home), and Dallas(away). Patrik Berglund, Troy Brouwer, and Jori Lehtera have showed life recently. Brouwer has 14 goals and seems to be clicking on a line with Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny. Vladimir Tarasenko has 33 goals and is firing at will. David Backes isn't centering a line with Magnus Paajarvi anymore and marriage is bliss. Jake Allen is playing like a boss in net and making unbelievable saves again in the absence of Brian Elliott. Everything is clicking. Oh, but Ken Hitchcock still sucks and just needs to stay out of the way of this freight train of good times being driven by Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused to a party at the moon tower.
What are the Blues doing differently the past two weeks that is helping them score more? Finishing. I hope that's deep enough but when you look at the replays of the goals and the constant pressure and forechecking, the Blues are being truly and utterly aggressive in the offensive zone throughout a game. They may get hustled for a period, but when it comes to finishing, they are executing.
The Blues are also gathering rebounds and stuffing them home. Some lucky bounces are helping them but it's getting consistent. Look at last night's game. Brouwer swoops in like an ordinary He-Man and fires a shot on net only to gather the rebound off Niemi's blocker and bury the rebound. Later, Tarasenko takes the puck from net to net, fires a shot on net and fires a wrist home on the rebound. Two goals off second chances and there's not even a sale at Macy's going on.
The playoffs are a month away and the Blues have 12 games left. TWELVE. Only five games at Scottrade and not until March 25th. The season is winding down for the Note and they are finally coming together as a team, especially on offense. When was the last time the defensemen scored three goals in a row to finish a game?
On Friday, the entire Blues team practiced together for the first time. Alex Steen, Steve Ott, and Brian Elliott are nearing their return to the ice. For the first time in forever, the Blues goal differential heading double digits in the positive direction at +11.
What this will come down to is no excuses. When a completely healthy Blues team enters the playoffs, the fans will have high expectations like they have for 37 of the past 49 seasons. They will think that a parade on 14th and Clark isn't an absurd thought that belongs on a comic book strip instead of reality. In the purest sense of the word, fans will start to believe again. It hasn't been an easy season to watch but the Blues(at least point wise) share ownership of first place with Dallas as the coffee brews this morning with 91 points.
Soon, the playoffs will be here and more than likely, the Blues could finish with another 100 point season. Who would have said that back in January when the team was struggling to score, defend, finish or do much of anything worth watching. Things have changed in two months and the team looks better than ever.
What happens next month? Let's not worry about that yet right now. As Crash Davis once told a dim witted minor league pitcher, "Don't fuck with a winning streak."
Have a good day, folks.