This has been a very strange season for the Blues. Most fans seem very doom and gloom about our team this season. It seems a foregone conclusion that we will lose every game and yet again fall short of the cup. Nothing seemed to scream this louder than the lack of moves at the trade deadline. Other teams loaded up for their shot while the Blues twiddled their collective thumbs.
What is the reality of the 2015-2016 Blues? They are yet again in the race for the top spot in the toughest division in hockey. We are currently tied with Dallas for the 2nd spot and only 2 points behind Chicago. We are also 15 points ahead of the number 2 wildcard team, Minnesota. Anything can happen between now and April, but the foregone conclusion seems to be, we will once again punch our ticket to the playoffs. Not only are we in contention for the top spot in the central, but we are tied for 3rd overall in the league. Only the Capitals have more points than the top 3 teams in the central. There are 26 teams in the league who wish they were in our position. So why is it so dim in St. Louis?
We have barely seen what this team is truly like thanks to the injury bug. The Blues have lost 236 man games this season. Putting us at 7th most in the league. The teams who have lost more? (overall league standings in parentheses) New Jersey (20th), Edmonton (29), Buffalo (26), Toronto (30), Arizona (24), and Detroit (12). Of those teams, only Detroit is currently in playoff position. They currently hold the top wildcard spot in the East.
What about our central division rivals? Well, Chicago has only lost 84 man games, and Dallas has lost 116. Putting them at 2nd and 6th respectively in least games lost. So while the Blues have been one of the most injured teams in the league, our closest rivals for the central crown have been 2 of the least injured. Our injuries haven't been easy to overcome. We aren't losing 4th liners. (or in our case, only 4th liners) We have lost:
Schwartz (1st line): 49 games
Berglund (2nd/3rd line): 40 games
Stastny (1st line): 18 games
Allen (1A Goalie): 17 games
Shattenkirk (1st pair): 10 games
Pietrangelo (1st pair): 9 games
Elliott (1B Goalie): 3 games and counting
Tarasenko (1st line): 2 games
These are just a few of the injuries we have been plagued with. To put it in perspective, our core players (players who have not been sent down to the minors) only Edmundson, Backes, Brouwer, and Reaves have yet to miss a game with injury this season. Mind you Reaves has missed 3 games due to suspension.
Our 1st line has missed 69 games. Our top 2 defensemen have missed 19 games, and our goalies have missed 20 games.
So if we have missed so many games due to injury, why doesn't our current point total seem like a great achievement? It could be the fact that we have been a better road team than home team. We are currently 19-11-4 at home and 18-9-5 on the road. It's hard to feel good about a team that loses every time you see a game in person. Could it be that our putrid point differential? While the Hawks and Stars boast +30 and +20, we sit at a measly +4. To put this into perspective, in current Western Conference playoff picture, we have the lowest differential. Our next closest team is the 2nd wildcard team, the Wild with +8.
So the games we have won have been close. We haven't been able to hold onto a lead this season. When we score we let teams come back. Everyone seemed to think we were destined for the cup last season after winning the central and coming dangerously close to the presidents cup. This season, no one thinks we will make it out of the first round, and everyone acts like we won't even make the playoffs.
So should we cut the team some slack? Should we cut the coaches some slack? How about the management? It's all up to a matter of opinion. What I can say is that we must be one of the most spoiled fan bases in the league to be so down on a team that is so high in the standings. (Thanks Cardinals) Leave your opinion in the comments below. How do you feel about the 2015-2016 Blues?