Thoughts to rummage through as the Blues Goaltending decides when to allow another goal,
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Blues meeting and falling in love with scoring. It was great! The night before, they had walked into the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars and outlasted them for a win. I was a wedding and couldn't contain my excitement as the Blues had tallied three goals or more for their sixth straight game. Was this a one and done romance flick? Did the Blues chew on some pill and get an extra stiff stick to play with? What was happening?
It turns out the scoring thing isn't an abstract thought or momentary lapse in shitty. Six more games have passed and the Blues have scored three or more goals in five of those games. In their 12 games since the 5-0 Nashville butt strike, the Blues have scored three or more in 11 of them. They have averaged 3.8 goals per game in that stretch, which is Dallas Stars or Washington Capitals like for the season. Their goals differential was lagging around 8-10 over. Now it's 18 over. Improvement is key right?
Speaking of those Capitals, the Blues handed them their 16th regulation loss of the season. 16 times the Capitals have been beat inside three periods. That's all. The next best teams are the Stars and Blues with 22 regulation losses. Saturday night, the Blues basically scattered pucks across the ice like Easter eggs and made the Caps scramble around like drunk children looking for them. Certain kids like Alexander Ovechkin pouted and got pissed off that Joel Edmundson lifted their stick right before they could tap an easy one into the net or got in their face after a whistle.
The Blues didn't play a splendid 60 minutes of hockey but they still looked sharp against the best in the league on their home ice. Jake Allen, rebounding from his thrashing against Edmonton and Calgary, stopped 32 Washington shots. On a back to back event for both teams, the Blues looked fresh and mad as hell on the road. It wasn't a home and home back to back. A home and road game. That didn't stop the Blues.
During this franchise record setting four shutout streak, the Blues have refused to cough up leads late and played hard to the end. Did Ken Hitchcock finally get through to them, all these years later? Is it the right mix of players? Is it the threat of Steve Ott coming back? What is happening?
Most importantly, can it continue? The Blues are enjoying their best stretch of goal production in a long time. Their last big streak in January was plagued by 1-0 and 2-1 triumphs. Now it's dangling a 3-4 goal cushion over the Canucks and Caps like a small tiny piece of cheese over a overfed rat crawling through the hole at the last minute. Sorry fellas.
The goaltending, the staple all season long, is just saying no at the other end. Brian Elliott returned from a knee injury(or something else lower body wise) and refused to give up a goal in 75 shots and three games. He now owns the most shutouts in franchise history. Jake Allen now has six shutouts, which is good for second in the league behind Corey Crawford. Elliott leads the NHL in goals against average(1.95) and save percentage(.934). All in all, the gatekeepers are getting more stubborn and are both healthy(bang your bear glass on the wooden table).
Hey, don't forget about your breakout defenseman Colton Parayko notching his 8th goal and also ranking 4th in the league in +/- with a +27 mark. The defensemen are becoming an elite unit and that even happens when Jay Bouwmeester can't skate up for a game. Young guns like Edmundson and Robert Bortuzzo have enough bite to keep opponents in check.
The Blues and Stars are tied with 99 points with six games left. The Hawks are barely ahead of Nashville with 93 points. If the playoffs started today, the Blues would get Chicago because Dallas' ROW(regulation and overtime wins) leads the blues, 43-40. If the Predators keep it up and pass up Chicago, the Blues may get them on April 13th. If they hop over Dallas, it will be a rematch with Minnesota.
That's conversation for two weeks from now. The Blues face Colorado and Boston at home before going to Colorado. They come home on April 4th to face Arizona, venture to the United Center against the Hawks and finish against The Caps at home. Six games and 12 possible points to grab. Do us a favor Blues and take it easy and scoop up 6-8 points and see where it shakes out. Or fuck it, keep winning.
It is more than easy to be frustrated by the Blues. For fans, it's common sense for the past 50 years to be driven mad by this team. However, for once this season, the team is playing a great brand of hockey. They are scoring rapidly, playing aggressively, getting goals from all four lines(The Brooding Kyle with back to back tallies), and have two first class netminders. There's no controversies. The #1 goalie hat still sits on Elliott's head, but Allen is proving he is ready to go as well. The Robby Fabbri-Paul Stastny-Troy Brouwer line is a thing of beauty. The STL line came together for an absolutely filthy goal Saturday night. Things are going well.
Will they go that well in two weeks? When a team scores like this over an entire month(even during that turd fest in Cal and Gary's office), the worries start to depart.
Enjoy this team right now. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the moment. Worry about the other shit later. Or when in doubt, just drink.