No Excuses for Scuffling Note

In addition to being in 13th place in the Western Conference, the Blues are 23rd overall in the NHL with their 57 points. While their current standing leaves them eight points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot, the Blues’ statistical rankings give an indication as to why they are where they are, and why there’s little hope for them to make up the ground necessary to make the playoffs.

When the season started, with everyone healthy, the Blues told us they needed to be a stingy defensive outfit. They needed to keep the puck out of their own net, and had to win games 2-1, 3-2, 4-2 and so on. Yet, after a fabulous start to the season in that department, the Blues’ goals-against average of 2.91 is 20th in the NHL. After allowing just 18 goals in their first dozen games (a 1.50 GAA), the Blues have allowed 143 in their last 42 – a goals-against average of 3.40.

In addition, the Blues’ penalty kill – ranked No. 1 in 2009-2010 at 86.8 percent – has sputtered to 20th place this year, just 80.7 percent. The Blues’ road penalty killers have been particularly woeful, ranking 26th in the league at just 74.5 percent. When you allow the other team to score on a quarter of their power plays in their building, that’s a recipe for failure.

Certainly the Blues can be excused for being only 24th in the league in goals scored. Losing T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald for such large chunks of the season, and David Perron for more than them, was a devastating blow. The Blues are 19th in home goals, 26th in road tallies. Their power play is 26th in the NHL (27th at home, 24th on the road), with the overall percentage at 14.6 percent.

Let’s review those rankings, just for the sake of soaking them in: 20th, 26th, 24th, 19th, 26th, 26th, 27th, 24th. Give them credit for being sixth in home penalty kill, but that’s the only area where the Blues excel.

Bill Parcells once uttered an indisputable fact: you are what your record says you are. The Blues are 24-21-9. That is without argument. Since their 9-1-2 start, the Blues are 15-20-7, having won 15 of 42.

But even if we look beyond the record, the Blues are what the stats say they are. At 23rd in the NHL, that’s exactly what they have earned and deserve.