We are officially into month number two of the Stanley Cup Championship season and after the month of October, 9-3-3 should get everyone excited for the rest of the season. But, despite the hot start there are things to be excited about and others that will need to change.
1.) THE RESILIENCY
If there’s one thing that this year’s Blues team has shown us after 15 games, it’s that you cannot count them out. Seven of the games this season have included a Blues team that’s been down by, at least, a goal and found a way to pull out a victory. In those seven games they have scored 19 goals in the 2nd period or later. It goes beyond what the numbers tell you. It’s the play we’ve seen from St. Louis when they are down. Something flips on this team when it’s assumed they are out of a game and they come back to stun. The Detroit game, the Minnesota game and even the Kings game that had the Blues trailing twice, only to come back and beat them 5-2.
2.) THE OFFENSE
This is an area that can have positives and negatives, especially since the injury to Vladimir Tarasenko. Let’s look at the positives which is the offense from the stars on this team, Schenn, O’Reilly, Perron and Schwartz. In 15 games this season those four have combined for 56 points and 26 of those came on the powerplay. Last season, those four combined for 48 points with 18 coming from the PP. What’s more impressive is that in the games Tarasenko has been out, 25 points have come for those starts. They have stepped up in a huge way for the Blues which can only mean positives moving forward
3.) THE POWERPLAY
This seemed to be the biggest area of concern going into the season which is surprising due to where the Blues finished last season (7th in NHL). A lot of the concerned was warranted due to the inability to possess the puck with the extra man in the postseason. The Blues are off to a great start with the extra man this season sitting 6th place with a 24.5% success rate. Compare that to last season in the first 15 games, 27.6% which placed the Blues in 4th of the NHL. Beyond the numbers though, there is a different system in place this year which makes you believe this year can be a long-term fix rather than a spurt. Fast puck movement, two dangerous units and more quality scoring chances. Now, consistency has been an issue but I like the look of 6th place with some inconsistencies inside of it.
1.) THE GOALTENDING
This is a topic that I’m not 100% on board with but I understand where people are coming from. The goaltending has not be “bad” but it has been inconsistent. Both Binnington and Allen have given up “questionable goals” that have said shouldn’t have gone in. Despite the sketchy goals or the “off-night” both goaltenders have given the Blues a chance to win. Binnington’s last six starts have included him stopping all but 3 shots in the 3rd period. Both have needed a save in big moments of a hockey game and something Craig Berube talked about a ton last season, the play is just as much on the forwards and defenseman as it is on the goaltender.
2.) THE DEFENSIVE CONSISTENCY
Saturday’s game is a perfect example of the inconsistencies from the Blues. The start of the hockey game resulted in a few turnovers in their own zone, the inability to clear the puck out and odd-man rushes. The Islanders game turned into an OT loss because of two failure to clear the zone. Detroit’s game was mediocre in a sense of push for both teams but Detroit found their legs late to score 3 unanswered goals. They have been in spurts in certain games this season and the players have said numerous times that it needs to be cleaned up. Those clean-ups are part of the reason the Blues have had 7 come from behind wins.
3.) SCORING DEPTH
Finally, as exciting as it is to have 4 players burning up the score sheet, the Blues are still searching for offense from their bottom two lines. The bottom six forwards have amassed 26 points while the defenseman have 33 total points. The Blues are at their most success when their d-men jump into offense but without Vladdy they will need a lot more from their bottom two lines. The good news is its trending in that direction. 10 points from that group in the last two games and if you can get Sundqvist and Sanford closer to their 20-goal season potential and see Thomas’ numbers continue to increase, this could be a dangerous offense for the opposition. Even without Vladdy.