Bernie Bits for Tuesday, Jan. 15…
Today’s Motto: Let’s Go (Mostly Positive) Blues!
Happy Birthday: Former Blues defenseman Cade Fairchild is 30 today.
This Day in Sports History: In 1942 U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent his famous “Green Light Letter” to MLB Commissioner Judge Landis, encouraging baseball to continue playing during World War II for the good of our nation’s morale.
1. The Blues’ 4-1 win at Washington on Monday night was the team’s most impressive win of the season. They dominated the defending Stanley Cup champions, in The District, and ended the Capitals’ 3-0-2 hot streak. And this after falling behind 1-0. The Blues are gaining traction. They’re 11-7 in their last 18 games under interim coach Craig Berube. They’ve won six of their last seven on the road — allowing only four goals, total, in the six wins. The Blues are 10th in the NHL in points percentage (.513) collected on the road (compared to 27th in points percentage at home.) The Blues are deep into a road-heavy schedule that has them playing 13 of 16 on the road. No offense, boys. But don’t come home.
2. Sorry, but the Blues are better without Alex Steen.
3. Can’t say enough about Ryan O’Reilly. He’s been the Blues’ only consistently good player in quality and effort. He has 16 goals, 28 assists (44 points) and is a +13 at even strength. An impressively instinctive player who is strong on the pick, O’Reilly has 51 takeaways and 14 giveaways. The 51 takeaways rank 6th among NHL forwards and only three forwards have fewer giveaways than O’Reilly’s 14. As expected, O’Reilly is a force on faceoffs, having won 58.7 percent of his draws this season. O’Reilly was in top form in Washington; he finished with two assists, won 14 of 19 faceoffs (73.7%) and a Corsi rating of 64.7 percent.
4. Among NHL goaltenders, Jake Allen is just about as it gets in road performance so far this season. Among 17 goaltenders that have logged a minimum of 800 minutes in away games, Allen ranks third in save percentage (.925) and second in goals-against average (2.21.) In other categories for road play, Allen has the league’s fifth-best save rate on high-danger shots (.856) is No. 2 in save percentage on medium-danger chances (.950) and ranks No. 5 in the Goals Saved Above Average metric (GSAA) at plus 8.09 goals saved.
4a. Of course, there’s the home-spun story. At Enterprise Center this season Allen has struggled with an .878 save percentage that’s dead last among 22 goalies that have at least 800 minutes of ice time. He also ranks at the bottom in goals-against average (3.65), high-danger save rate (.739) and Goals Saved Above Average (minus 17.47.)
5. Jake Allen and Jordan Binnington would both agree: it helps that the Blues are doing a much better job of defending the fortress, having allowed fewer than 30 shots for eight consecutive games.
6. Ol’ friend David Perron is streaking: As mentioned on Fox Sports Midwest during Monday’s telecast, Perron has at notched at least one point in 11 consecutive games. That’s the longest active streak in the NHL this season. Perron has 22 points in his last 22 games including 14 points (nine goals, five assists) and a +8 during his 11-game splurge. Perron scored against Washington as part of his busy, seven-shots-on-net evening.
7a. More on Perron: He has 16 goals in his first 43 games this season. That’s as many as Perron has in 70 regular-season games for Las Vegas last season, and only two fewer than his 18 goals (in 82 games) for the Blues in 2016-17. Perron is averaging 0.37 goals per game this season — his highest rate in a season since 2011-12.
8. Vladimir Tarasenko is experiencing a warming trend, with four goals. two assists 16 shots on net and a +4 rating in his last five games. Here are two stats that make me believe that more goals are coming:
A) Tarasenko’s outlier shooting percentage (poor in this instance) is improving … as bad outliers tend to do. In a 27-game stretch that began Nov. 3, Tarasenko scored only five goals on 92 shots (5.4%). But in his last five games, Tarasenko has scored four times on 16 shots (25%) and his scoring percentage is up to just under 10 percent for the season. It’s moving in the right direction.
B) When Tarasenko has been on the ice at even strength this season, the Blues have generated 64 more scoring chances than opponents — controlling scoring 60.4 percent of the scoring chances.
8. Admit it if you can: the ancient defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is playing well. He’s a +6 with two goals and four assists in his last 16 games.
9. The Blues are at .500 (20-20-4) for the first time since Nov. 16. Their 44 points are only three behind Minnesota for the second wild-card playoff spot in the West. Problem is, three teams are between the Blues and Minnesota: Edmonton, Anaheim and Vancouver each have 47 points. As of Tuesday morning, Hockey Reference gave the Blues a 26 percent chance to make the Western Conference playoffs. PlayoffStatus.com (30%) is more favorable for the Blues. But what about landing the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft? The Blues’ chances are down to 3.5 percent.
10. The Jeff Sagarin metrics are bullish on the Blues. Probably because the Blues strength-of-schedule so far — the ninth-toughest in the league according to the Sagarin ratings — they are listed as the NHL’s 15th best team overall among 31 clubs — and No. 8 in the West. Here’s another reason why Sagarin is up on the Blues: They have a 13-12 mark against teams ranked in his Top 16 and are 10-7 versus teams in his Top 10.
Finally: Craig Berube is 11-7 in his last 18 games as the Blues’ interim coach and has forged above .500 (13-11-1) since replacing the fired Mike Yeo.
Thanks for reading…