Sometimes, a losing streak can reveal a problem for a team. Imagine a car badly needing an oil change and the mechanic discovers another vital problem with the car.
It’s true. The St. Louis Blues came crashing back to Earth earlier this month with their first three game regulation losing streak in over a year. While they rebounded with an impressive win over the Golden Knights on Thursday, the leaks in the facade of the Blues were apparent in those losses to Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Buffalo.
Scoring is at the top of the list. It seems to be the main issue with this team for the past decade. They don’t score enough goals, putting extra pressure on their defense and goaltending. While those two latter units have been outstanding this year, the team can’t expect to keep that up for four more months.
Before tonight’s game against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues rank 17th in goals per game and 23rd in shots per game. That’s just not going to cut it. That will get you a second round playoff exit.
Save me the last year was alright talks. That was a magical run that the NHL may not see ever again. A team in last place on Jan. 1 and hoisting the Stanley Cup in June is not something you repeat. So let’s table that belief.
So, what are you going to do about the scoring? Alexander Steen is back tonight, but unless the coaching staff has Martin Scorsese’s de-aging equipment, don’t expect much. Oskar Sundqvist is a great asset, but no scoring behemoth. Sammy Blais won’t move worlds.
Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t coming back until April at the earliest. Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin won’t get the necessary amount of playing time to make a dent on the scoring sheet.
Enter Taylor Hall, whom a few National media members are thinking could be dealt this week, with the Blues being atop the list.
I wrote about Hall earlier this month, so let’s not waste time. He’s a playmaker, a former MVP who can change the dynamic of a team in a heartbeat. Also, a guy who needs a better team to play on.
The cost for a deal is where the idea gets complicated, but this isn’t where you doubt Doug Armstrong, the man who convinced the Flyers they should give up Brayden Schenn for Jori Lehtera. The man who has pulled off a few heists before to help his team.
If the Devils mention Robert Thomas or Alex Pietrangelo, you hang up. But I don’t think they can do that.
The Blues are fit to return to the playoffs and possibly win a round or two, but the losing streak revealed that the scoring troubles that have plagued this team on and off for the past decade are still hanging around. It won’t be easy to battle out 2-1 games endlessly, and the wear and tear on overtime affairs will carry a side effect in March and April.
Hall would be a bold move, but that’s what makes champions repeat. You can’t worry too much about the future, which is already bright with guys like Thomas, Colton Parayko, Ivan Barbashev, and Vince Dunn.
Besides, prospect cultivation is a tactic best saved for Clark and 8th street, not 14th and Clark. The Blues and Armstrong have done what needed to be done in the past couple years. To them, reaching the playoffs isn’t enough. Participation trophies are for teams that seal their fate in October. If the Hall move is possible, they will finish it and worry about the 2022-23 season later.
If not Hall, what are your plans to improve the scoring? Sound off in the comments below. You can tell me how stupid how I am, but doing so without meanness and actually saying something will get more than an eye roll.