The St. Louis Blues are currently in the middle of a three game losing streak for the first time this season. A streak that has caused them to surrender the number one spot in the NHL as well as let the Winnipeg Jets draw even with them for the lead in the Central division.
During the month of October and the early parts of November when the Blues were demolishing opponents similar to the way you attacked that pecan pie during thanksgiving there were some of us in the paper and on this website who were complaining about how it is much harder to write about a team who is doing well as opposed to a team who is faltering.
This would be a perfect lesson in karma because while the Blues are currently having a rough go of it there is still not a whole lot to talk about.
The first two games of this three game slide were basically throw aways in the sense that the team that showed up on Wednesday and Friday night did not resemble anything close to the Blues that had put together a 17-6-1 record in the previous 24 games.
Sure, they came out slow and gave up an early goal (or two) against but in everyone of those games the Blues were still in the mix heading into the third period.
During most of this season a lot of us here at Game Time have been apprehensive of the Blues lack of scoring depth on the roster but during these last three games the bottom half of the lineup definitely contributed more offense than the top half.
In fact, the only two Blues 5 on 5 goals were scored by permanent fourth- liner Kyle Brodziak with assists coming from Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Sobotka.
The return of Patrik Berglund was supposed to add some much needed scoring talent to the Blues third line and while both of the big Swede’s goals have came on the power play it is hard to argue that he hasn’t made an immediate impact on the Blues.
There is no question that the Blues penalty kill has let them down so far this season, currently at a 77.9% effective rate which is good enough for 21st in the league, but as Jeremy Rutherford pointed out in his weekly mail bag article it is hard to imagine that the Blues will not improve in that area as the season progresses. They are using essentially the same personal in basically the same scheme which suggests the problem comes from a lack of proper execution. It is only a matter of time before the Blues return to past form.
While the return of Jay Bouwmeester has not been as well received as fellow whipping boy Patrik Berglund, after six games he is a plus 2 and has the fourth best even strength Corsi For% (52.3%) of all Blues defenseman.
While I will grant that Bouwmeester has looked a step or two slow so far this season he is still a serviceable top four defenseman which will provide the Blues some defensive depth in which to deal from if the opportunity should arise.
Speaking of which, in his 31 thoughts, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman made mention the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers making a trade to improve their problematic blue-line. While Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the name that most fans will be kicking around the more likely candidate is St. Louis native Patrick Maroon.
Of all the possible Blues trade talks I have heard this one makes the most sense so far. The Blues have less than a million dollars in cap space left so any new cap hit coming in will have to be met with basically the same amount headed out.
Patrick Maroon has a $1.5 million cap hit and will become a UFA after this season. Carl Gunnarsson has a $2.9 million cap hit and will become a UFA after the 2018-19 season.
The Oilers definitely have the cap space to absorb Gunnarsson’s contract while locking up a decent puck moving, offensive minded defenseman for another year. The Blues would pick up some secondary scoring help while freeing up some money for next season. Looks good to me.
The Canadiens are going to be tough. Since the return of Carey Price they have looked like a new team and have won 5 straight, including a 10-1 trouncing of the afore mentioned Red Wings. Dallas is no pushover but can be beat. Detroit still sucks.
Of course knowing the Blues they will probably win their first two and lay an egg against Detroit.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.