The St. Louis Blues skate into San Jose tonight looking for a pulse as their West Coast hell ride continues. The Los Angeles Kings kicked their ass Thursday, so what happens up the coast tonight? It’s like asking what traffic will be like during rush hour with freezing rain falling from the sky? The forecast calls for ugly play, and all I can do here is describe the wreckage.
For the Blues, the Winter Classic was good at a very things. Bringing notoriety to St. Louis, generating dollars, and showing that the fanbase is vibrant and will show up. The Classic also accomplished something else; it covered up a shitty December for the Blues. The Blues went 5-6-2 in December, but the second half was bad and the home record was blown up. After winning two of their first three, the Blues lost seven of their final eleven games to close the month. They blew a three goal lead in Nashville and a two goal lead in Tampa Bay. The Classic was the shiny penny in a stack of dirty quarters.
There’s a lot wrong with this team, and the biggest asshat doesn’t even suit up. I’m looking at you Doug Armstrong. I have a few questions for the GM:
- Why didn’t you pay David Backes his money and then proceed to sign Alex Steen, who is older, to a four year deal? Backes may have checkered playoff history, but Steen takes a holiday during the postseason. Backes is a better two way player, and is a fucking horse. Steen can’t stay healthy? Steen has four goals, and two of them are empty netters.
- Doug, what happened with Troy Browuer? Backes was a pricey fella, so why not sign Troy? He created silky magic with Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri last year. Don’t tell me he wanted to go to Calgary. No one really wants to go to visit Cal or Gary. Tell me.
- Was David Perron supposed to be the replacement for those two? If so, hand me the whiskey bottle.
- Why did you sign Jay Bouwmeester, Jori Lehtera, Carl Gunnarsson, and Robert Bortuzzo to extensions before you had to? I don’t hate all the deals. I just wonder what you are thinking.
Jake Allen sure hasn’t played like Army hoped. The Bay of Pigs went better than Allen’s December. Armstrong made a decision to trade Brian Elliott and sign Allen long term in the offseason. That was a simple choice, based on transitional plans or having to choose one way of a road. He went with youth, and nearly a half season in is losing the deal.
Allen is lost and tumbling down. He ranks 56th in save percentage with a .900 mark and 42nd with a 2.76 goals against mark. Both are bad. You can call the defense in front of him bad, but Allen needs to be a lot better or this team is screwed. The Blues allow the sixth least amount of shots in the NHL at 27.9, but the goaltending is still bad. Carter Hutton hasn’t provided much relief. There’s no relief down at Chicago. Honestly, how would it look to tell your two goalies we are going with Pheonix Copley suddenly? If Allen wants to be the backbone of this team, he needs to stop playing like a career backup thrust into net.
How about the baby shit defense? Bouwmeester is softer than a dryer sheet. Kevin Shattenkirk turns the puck over coming out of the defensive zone, and Alex Pietrangelo hasn’t taken charge of this team just yet.
How about the forwards? I’ll throw a few names on a milk carton here.
*Jori Lehtera, aka the human anchor. He’s dragging down the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko every single night. He has four goals and eight assists in 37 games. That’s terrible. He doesn’t play good defense. He’s slower than most. I wish I was a magician so I could make Jori disappear.
*Alex Steen. Yeah, he has 20 assists and hasn’t encountered his yearly stretch where he misses 15 game suddenly. Great. He is a -11, which means his defense has taken a turn for the worst. He only has 48 shots on goal, and is on pace for eight goals this season. His four year extension decreases in value every season. Hopefully his play didn’t take that literally. Be better, Alex. Backes isn’t here to wipe your ass anymore.
*David Perron. He has more penalty minutes than points in January(8 to 2). He hasn’t scored in six games. Isn’t that what he’s supposed to do here? Perron has flashes of greatness, then he shuts down, like a doll with a string. He needs to be better. Only Ryan Reaves and Joel Edmundsen(who have fought this year) have more penalty minutes than Perron’s 34.
All the forwards can also play better defense. The forechecking and neutral zone lockdown hasn’t been there for a long time. There’s nothing worst than a losing team that looks soft. This team is near the bottom of the league in hits. Where’s the physicality?
Ken Hitchcock needs to pair Paul Stastny with Tarasenko. Put Lehtera with Steen and Schwartz. Would that work? It sure doesn’t hurt to try.
Armstrong should be held more accountable than Hitchcock. He put this team together. He traded away the two Hitch prototypes in Backes and Brouwer and retained the coach for this hazardous campaign.
If you think Backes couldn’t help this team, rethink that please. He is everything this team isn’t. Leadership, points, and toughness. Two way play that looks as sexy as a fresh medium rare steak. Yeah, the Blues don’t miss that.
The Blues team isn’t anywhere near Chicago and Minnesota, teams that get better play from their forwards and goaltenders. They are barely ahead of Nashville for the last playoff spot. Their 47 points looks feeble. Their record of 21-21 is just average.
That’s the IDENTITY(bourbon shot) of this team. Average play. Outside of their special teams, everything is near average or worse. Tarasenko’s 43 point season is impressive given his supporting cast, but his -7 is reminiscent of the team he plays on.
Speaking of +/- fun. There are only three players on the Blues with a positive +/- rating. Robert Bortuzzo(who has been missing most of the last month), Dmitrj Jaskin, and Ryan Reaves. Everyone else is negative.
News flash: It’s not all Jake Allen’s fault. It’s the whole team this season. Rich guys like Steen and Lehtera need to be better. Perron has to be more consistent. Special teams don’t win Stanley Cups.
A team sport like hockey never falls on one player. It’s a community effort to drop a deuce most nights. As a whole, the Blues need to get better. Scoring more consistently, playing better defense, and defending in net better.
Doug, I still want to have that chat.
Thanks for reading.