New Year, New Team? Well, Not Really
After a terrible start to 2018-19, the St. Louis Blues continue to sink in the mud. At the time I am writing, the Blues are tied with Ottawa for last place in the league. The bad play did not start in October, it has been apparent throughout 2018. To start things off, we have to look at the second half of last season. This is where we will start to see the bad play that led to an elimination in game 82 (vs. COL) of the 2017-18 season.
St. Louis Blues – January 1 to April 7
Through this time, the St. Louis Blues played 41 games which was tied with Arizona for the fewest games in that span. The Blues had a record of 20-17-4 and the two biggest losses came in the final week. First on April 4, the Blackhawks scored the go ahead goal with less than ten seconds to go in regulation. Then the Avalanche played the Blues on the final day of the season (4/7), the winner moved on to the playoffs. St. Louis came out slow and Colorado won the game to eliminate the Blues.
Through the first half of the calendar year, the St. Louis Blues allowed 120 goals while scoring, a league low, 106 goals. The silver lining for the first-half Blues was the face-off percentage. At 51.4 percent, the Blues were ninth in the league.
Special teams is where things went wrong for the Blues. Under Mike Yeo, the power play was never great but neither was the penalty kill, which had not been that bad in a while. The penalty killers underperformed by killing just 75.7 percent of the penalties, which was 23rd in the league. On the opposite side, the power play became one of the biggest issues with the team over this time. The two PP units posted a percentage of just 15.4 percent which sat the team at 28 out of 31 through the four months.
Vladimir Tarasenko led the team in goals with 17 goals. Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo were tied for the lead in assists with 18 while Schenn led the team in points with 29. Carter Hutton led the team in wins with 11 in that time.
St. Louis Blues – October 4 to December 31
The St. Louis Blues started the second half of the year with a few new faces, which we will get to in a minute, but the team still didn’t perform well under Mike Yeo. This led to his firing on November 19 after a 2-0 loss to the, then last place, Los Angeles Kings. Through the second half, the Blues posted a record of 15-17-4 while playing the fewest games through this time (37). Once again, the only silver lining is the face-off percentage which is at 52.0 percent, good for sixth in the league.
Since October 4, the St. Louis Blues have scored 102 goals, which is the fifth-fewest of all 31 teams while allowing 122 goals. The defense has been a lot worse through the second half by allowing players to just skate into the zone and rip a shot on net. Play in the D-zone has also not been up to par. In this article, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford writes about what is wrong with the Blues defense. He says the team is playing man-to-man in the defensive zone. Man-to-man has not been used effectively since before the 2005 lockout. This could be the fault of defense coach Mike van Ryn and/or other members of the young coaching staff.
Special teams has been better through this half. The power play units are posting 20.3 percent, which has the team at 16th while the penalty killers are posting a percentage of 78.7 percent and have the Blues at 18th in that category.
Ryan O’Reilly leads the team in goals (15), assists (20) and points (35) in 37 games.
St. Louis Blues – January 1 to December 31
- Fewest games played in NHL at 78
- Record of 35-35-8
- Goals For: 208 (fewest in NHL)
- Goals Against: 242
- PP%: 18.0 percent; PK%: 77.4 percent; FO%: 51.7 percent
- January 1 – November 19: Mike Yeo
- November 20 – December 31: Craig Berube (interim)
- Vladimir Tarasenko (28)
- Brayden Schenn (18)
- Alexander Steen (17)
- Brayden Schenn (33)
- Vince Dunn (28)
- Alex Pietrangelo & Jaden Schwartz (25)
- Brayden Schenn (51)
- Vladimir Tarasenko (50)
- Alexander Steen (41)
- Jake Allen (22)
- Carter Hutton (11)
- Chad Johnson (2)
- Save Percentage:
- Carter Hutton (.922)
- Jake Allen (.899)
- Chad Johnson (.884)
- Goals Against Average:
- Carter Hutton (2.31)
- Jake Allen (3.03)
- Jordan Binnington (3.51)
- Carter Hutton (2)
- Jake Allen (1)
- Chad Johnson (1)
The St. Louis Blues play Thursday night (1/3) against the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. The game can be found on FOX Sports Midwest.
Other Blues News
- Chris Butler and Jordan Nolan have been assigned to the San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
- St. Louis Blues set to host the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend
- Evan Fitzpatrick has been called up to the NHL while Jordan Binnington has been assigned to San Antonio
- Jordan Kyrou named AHL rookie of the month (6 goals, 15 points in 9 games)
Follow Jared on Twitter: @jared_pettus_00
Photo Courtesy of: J.B. Forbes