On Aug. 1, the Blues looked like a Western Conference tough guy on paper. Not only did Doug Armstrong go out and trade for Ryan O’Reilly, but he signed Pat Maroon, David Perron, and Tyler Bozak to contracts. He shipped out Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobokta, and didn’t resign Carter Hutton and Kyle Brodziak.
The stars were aligning, and all that needed to happen were games to be played and won. 82-0 wasn’t a fair idea, but a 45-50 win season didn’t seem too far out of reach. What could go wrong?
It turns out, a lot could go wrong.
With seven inches of snow on the ground as the sun rose on this November hump day, the Blues stood at 6-7-3, which is 6-10 without the bullshit overtime loss column and good for last place in the Central Division. The Chicago Blackhawks, who lost eight games in a row, are ahead of the Blues by three points (18 to 15).
That’s right, the Blues have a whopping 15 points after 16 games, which is close to a fourth of the season. Instead of ruling the West with an iron fist, the Blues have come up limp so far this season. They sit just above the Los Angeles Kings for last place in the conference, and are tied with the New Jersey Devils for second-to-last place in the NHL for points.
In a word, the Blues suck right now. Can it get better? Sure. The sun eventually came out today, melting some of the snow from your driveway and off your car. The temperature reached a number that sits above the freezing point. There’s plenty of history to back up the fact that the Blues could still turn this around, but the biggest problem is that relaunch doesn’t seem a game or two away.
When the Blues win, it doesn’t look that clean. The best wins of the season came against Toronto and San Jose. What did the Blues do during those games? Dominated the pace of play, reduced their defensive breakdowns, executed on the power play, and didn’t start Jay Bouwmeester. They can’t put two great games together. When they beat the Carolina Hurricanes recently, a few posts helped in the effort. The Blues have won too many sloppy games, and ended up on the wrong side of the scorecard during many others.
Third period collapses. Defensive meltdowns. For the love of good scotch, Bouwmeester scored the only goal in last night’s game in Chicago. It’s too bad he kicked it into his own net. That’s where the Blues are at right now. An embarrassing level of play that doesn’t add up to doom just yet, but looks rather hopeless.
While O’Reilly has been a renegade on the ice, Maroon hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games and Bozak only has fleeting moments of effectiveness. Perron will score four goals in a three-game span and then it’s a silent night on his stick for days. The last thing I can remember from him is a terrible late game penalty that destroyed a comeback against Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. Colton Parayko hasn’t been what many expected. Robby Fabbri hasn’t changed the team into a division threat.
Jake Allen still looks average in net, but the defense in front of him stinks. Chad Johnson looked good for a couple games before he became Chad Johnson again. Bouwmeester is talked about his coach like an old retired English professor, but he still sees the ice for 15 minutes a game.
Mike Yeo doesn’t have answers or a plan, but he still has a job. Does that tell you how motivated the Blues are to improve and win? The Kings and Blackhawks, the two teams sandwiched around St. Louis at the bottom of the Western Conference, fired their head coach this season already. Armstrong and owner Tom Stillman have decided to wait until Thanksgiving I guess. Who knows? Yeo sure doesn’t. Every postgame presser reveals a man who has memorized the number of steps on the plank he will officially step off. He lost this team weeks ago, but he’s still up there looking sturdy and assured.
Here’s the thing. You can get super mad at Bouwmeester for looking like an analog player in a digital world out there on the ice killing penalties and our soul, but it’s Yeo’s decision to keep him out there. He does have a contract and can’t be deleted unless they shove him onto the IR list or play him once every other period, but being put into high-leverage situations is Yeo’s call. It’s on him.
If the Blues’ disappointing start has taught us anything, it is don’t believe in offseason hype. The Vegas Golden Knights were a Stanley Cup contending team in June, and now they sit near the bottom of the NHL. The Blues made big moves in July, and have started the season looking like pretenders instead of contenders. The Stanley Cup isn’t won in the summer. If it were, the Blues would be sipping martinis and chilling.
Should Alex Pietrangelo lose his Captain badge? No. What does that do? Does it make a difference who wears that damn thing right now? “If O’Reilly had it, the Blues would clear the zone, not make bad passes, and be more precise with their shots?” Someone probably said that, and they should be punched.
Should Yeo be fired? He should have been fired 10 days ago.
Should Bouwmeester play more than six minutes a game? No. He shouldn’t play at all.
Is Allen a good goaltender? No. He’s really not. Just look at his stats the last three seasons.
Will the Blues win again? Sure. Will they win 37 games the rest of the way to finish with a high-enough point total to contend for serious postseason play? Probably not. Fire the coach and find out.
Some saw the signs and warned us. You can find it on Twitter. Some didn’t buy into the hype. Good for them. Take an extra brownie and pass the plate.
I bought into the hype hard, and sit here with a confused look on my face.
These Blues look like shit, and new coach or not, there’s no easy way out.