Let’s be honest, things could be better in the land of the Blues. After a stellar month of October and November in which the Blues were constantly holding or battling for the top spot in the NHL, December has seen the club take a big step backwards.
They are 5-7 for the month and have an even strength goal differential of minus 8. Players who should be scoring simply are not:
Good morning. Merry Christmas. Here are the current goal scoring streaks for some #stlblues players:— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) December 22, 2017
Jaskin - 1 in 13
Paajarvi - 0 in 18
Sobotka - 1 in 16
Stastny - 1 in 13
Steen - 0 in 17
Sundqvist - 0 in 27
Tarasenko - 3 in 15
However, often times a lack of goal scoring is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem and in the case of the Blues there are a multitude of wrongs that need to be addressed before the club can return to their winning ways.
Lack of focus, defensive breakdowns by forwards and defensemen, turnovers, missed opportunities and at times less than stellar goaltending are all issues that the Blues are dealing with right now.
Obliviously the loss of Jaden Schwartz to a recent lower body injury has had a huge affect on this team but lately it feels like the Blues are using that injury as an excuse to give up.
According to naturalstattrick.com, in every one of their last four games the Blues have had negative 5 on 5 possession numbers. A streak that has not occurred since the first four games of the season. Compounding their possession problems has been a rash of lackadaisical play in their own end which has done nothing but allow the attacking team to keep the puck in the Blues zone.
In their last two loses, and really in their last four, the Blues have still been in every game heading into the third period. But uncharacteristic mistakes, often in their own zone, have allowed opponents to cash in on opportunities that would not have presented themselves in the months of October and November.
Another symptom afflicting the Blues is their hesitancy to fire the puck on net. A multitude of blocked shots and one-and-done chances are tell tale signs of indecision and a lack of confidence on the part of the Blues.
Lets take a look at Tage Thompson’s goal from Thursday night.
As soon as he receives the pass from Colton Parayko he fires the puck on net. No hesitation, no double clutching, he gets it and he shoots it. This is what the Blues need more.
In fact, we see it again when Patrik Berglund scores later in the game.
Berglund enters the zone with one thing on his mind, getting the puck on net. As soon as he gets Schenn’s pass the puck has left his stick.
It’s not surprising that both of these plays resulted in goals and are perfect examples why not to lose faith in the Blues just yet.
This team still knows how to score and I am confident that they know how to fix the problems that have been troubling them. In the case of the Blues, it’s not a question of if it happens but rather when it will happen.
As for tonight’s opponent, if there is any team in the western conference that could facilitate the Blues turning the corner it very well would be the Vancouver Canucks.
Like most teams in their position a lack of goal scoring is the most glaring reason for their depth in the standings. The Canucks minus 21 goal differential is third worst in the league, only better than the disappointing Buffalo Sabers and the lowly Coyotes.
And when we look at the teams advanced statistics it’s not hard to understand why. They can’t get the puck out of their own zone.
Their 5 on 5 Corsi For% of 47.71 is 6th worst in the NHL. Likewise their Fenwick For% of 47.11% and Shots For% of 47.69% are both in the bottom 10 in the league. Which in turn have led to the 5th least Goals For.
One bright spot for Canucks fans this season has been the emergence of rookie forward Brock Boeser who is making a series bid for this season’s Calder Trophy.
His team leading 19 goals (which leads all rookies) are almost double that of second place teammate Thomas Vanek’s 10 and are the 5th most in the entire NHL. Trailing only the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Anders Lee the young winger is in some impressive company.
While it would be easy to look past this Canucks team, it would bode well for the Blues to use this game to regain their focus before heading into the Christmas break.
Get the puck in deep, maintain possession, fire shots on net and fight for every rebound. Keep the game in the opponents end of the ice and make life easy on your goaltender.
Do all that and the Blues will head home with an extra two points in their stockings.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.