“We don’t handle success well, that’s been a staple of our group for a number of years, is being able to stay even-keeled,” Armstrong says. “But for whatever reason this group can’t handle accolades well, or can handle success well and we pay for.”
-Doug Armstrong on KMOX, January 21, 2018
“We obviously didn’t respect the opponent last night we didn’t respect Florida,” Armstrong says. “And this is a good league, there’s a hell of a player on every team. And if our arrogance just thinks we can come in and throw our sticks in and teams will just bow down to us because we’re the mighty St Louis Blues, we’re sadly mistaken. And when we play like that, that’s what happens.”
-Mike Yeo on KMOX, January 21, 2018
I don’t want to read to much into what Yeo and Armstrong said after the St. Louis Blues disastrous loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last Saturday. However, I think it is fair to say they are accusing the players of letting whatever success they have accomplished so far this season get to their heads and that they are becoming over confident. These are damning quotes, but this is not the first time we have heard this sentiment expressed by a Blues coach or GM.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Armstrong and Yeo have diagnosed the problem accurately; the team thinks they play better than they actually play. Yes, they had a tremendous start of the season and it was some fun hockey to watch. I think we can all agree to that. But now that we are past the halfway point, we can look back with hindsight to see exactly what sort of competition the team was up against the first couple of months of the season.
I am going to specifically take a look at the time period between the start of the season and November 25, 2017. November 25th was the last game the Blues won before their first three game losing streak of the season. I think we can safely say that a three game losing streak is a good sign that their hot streak ended.
The Blues racked up 35 of their 59 points to date during, roughly, the first two months of the season. That equates to roughly 60% of their points being earned during this hot streak. This was definitely a nice cushion that might help them eke out a playoff spot by the end of the season. I think it is also a false positive in the sense that they were playing against weaker competition but we just did not know it at the time.
I was going to bring out all sorts of fancy charts and stats to demonstrate the level of competition the Blues faced during their hot streak at the beginning of the season, but in the end this is all we really need to know:
Out of the 34 points they earned in wins during their “hot streak”, over half of those points (20) were earned against teams that would not make the playoffs if the post-season started today. Out of those 20 points earned in wins against non-playoff teams, 40% of them (8) were earned in overtime or shoot out wins.
This is the equivalent of me showing up to a peewee stick and puck and going home bragging about how I owned some 11 year old goalie. In other words, as much fun as it was to watch this team start with a string of wins, these wins were not a true test of the team’s on ice prowess. We did not know that then, but we know it now, and someone needs to clue in the team to this fact as well.