I owe Alexander Steen an apology. Well, sort of. The man was missing in action on the score sheet for weeks during November and December, but has found his way back. Will it stick, though?
Steen accumulated eight points in 16 December games, including a single goal that happened to be an empty netter. In 11 January games, he has 11 points, including SEVEN goals.
While it’s still true that the empty net will never stop being Steen’s friend, the guy has woke up this month, helping a team struggling to score goals win a few games. In last week’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, Steen buried a beautiful one-timer from Vladimir Sobotka. I’d be lying if I said the wicked snipe didn’t create instant arousal. It was liking slipping in an old Steven Seagal action flick and marveling at his moves and pony tail. You know, the ones before he got really fat and started doing direct to TV crap.
Overall, Steen has 11 goals and 20 assists with a -10 +/- rating in 46 games with three power play goals. That’s not bad, but also setting up for a 50 point finish, which would mark a decrease in production for a fourth straight season. This was a guy who used to put the gold on the ceiling at Scottrade. Steen scored 37 goals in 2013-14 in 68 games. Now, Blues fans hope for 20 goals from a guy getting paid remarkably well.
Please, save me the “two way play” excuse. If a guy making as much dough as Steen can’t play a little defense and forecheck, toss his ass to the curb and move on. He’s a fine player, but his recent play brings a fine question that took me 250 words to get to: is Steen back in the saddle again for good, or does his production reflect a Blues team that has averaged two goals over the past two months (27 games)?
A Twitter convo with @ArtLippo, @danreilly, @FabbrisHair, and @MrBluesHat sparked this question, with the lover of fine hair and weak knees calling Steen the ultimate streaky producer. Let’s look at Steen’s 2017-18 season by month.
October: 5 points (7 games)
November: 12 points (7 games)
December 8 points (16 games)
January: 11 points (11 games)
Now let’s take a look at 2016-17--
October: 7 points (9 games)
November: 3 points and 0 goals (8 games)
December: 8 points (14 games)
January: 14 points including 6 goals (13 games)
February: 7 points (12 games)
March: 10 points (15 games)
April: 2 points (5 games)
How about 2015-16? Speeding things up, here are Steen’s point totals by month, starting with October and ending with April: 9, 12, 14, 7, 5, 2 (in only one game), and 3.
Based on his last two seasons, Steen is indeed very streaky, with a fond calling for January that Jake Allen would rudely deny. In 2015-16, he simply peaked in December and went down from there.
A few things. First, Steen’s last 15 games of productions bests any other Blue, which is quite swell. Second, he needs to be more consistent if the Blues are to stand a chance in the playoffs this year or in two years when he’s still here (vomit). With a team nudging against the salary cap every year, the team can’t afford to drag a guy with a 5.7 million dollar cap hit the next three years...after this one (vomit again).
The reality is more unsettling. Steen’s production is going down steadily, but he’s gotten plenty of reps on the first line. Steen has seen opportunity, but hasn’t been able to put it together for two months in a row in two seasons. When the Blues kept him over David Backes, they must have thought he could keep up the 55 point pace. He’ll most likely fall below that mark this year. He’ll be 34 before the season ends.
I gave Steen a lot of shit earlier this month. He was stuck in milk carton status for a few weeks, but has eight goals in his last 15 games, including four in his last five. For the time being, Steen is producing, but it could all stop in a matter of games.
His shot isn’t as wicked as it used to be, nor is it as consistent or accurate. He doesn’t skate as quick as a couple years ago, and his defense is steady yet not as strong in some areas. He is declining, but may still find a way to manage 18-20 goals.
So, to answer the question, I will say Steen is back in the saddle at the moment, but the past three seasons suggest the final months of a season rarely see him stay in it.
Thanks for reading and buy more bourbon,