St. Louis Blues Must Stay Out Of The Penalty Box To Succeed
The St. Louis Blues have the best penalty killing unit in the league right now. The problem is they are having to use it way too much.
The St. Louis Blues are going into the penalty box way too much this season. That’s not a good recipe for success and may be one of the biggest reasons they aren’t playing well offensively right now.
Some people will see the headline of this article and roll their eyes. I can feel the collective “uh, duh” coming from the internet.
It goes without saying that a team needs to be five-on-five to be good, right? You can’t constantly be defending and hope to win.
Someone needs to tell that to the players. And before you even start, this can’t all be on the coaching staff.
If you want the coach fired, that’s on you. That’s your thing. Arguing for/against that is only slightly less contentious than the presidential things going on right now.
Ken Hitchcock is not telling Alex Pietrangelo to fire the puck over the glass on the far side of the rink. He’s not telling people to break opponent’s sticks or not move their feet and get caught flat footed etc.
The players have to figure out what they are doing that is putting themselves in the sin-bin and correct it fast. Some of it has to do with officiating, but we’ve seen way more bone-headed penalties this year than anything we can blame on the zebras.
The problem is almost a catch-22. The Blues have the best penalty killing unit in the league right now, but they seem too comfortable using that unit.
That’s bad for a myriad of reasons. One, it keeps your top offensive guys, like Vladimir Tarasenko off the ice and doesn’t allow any offensive flow. Two, you aren’t doing your goaltender any favors. Three, even if the Blues were winning, you’re going to burn guys out.
The team is just in the box way too much right now. Win or lose, it has been a problem.
St. Louis has been on the penalty kill five or more times per game four out of the last six games. The Blues put themselves short-handed 29 times over that same span.
Even the game they blew out Colorado, they had to kill off five penalties. It’s not a sustainable model.
Yes, the Blues have the top penalty kill in the NHL. They have almost double the penalties taken than the team in second though.
As of writing this article, they have eight more PK’s than anyone in the top 10. Only Calgary, who is second to last in penalty killing, comes close to the number of penalties the Blues have taken.
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You could almost stomach that number if the Blues were playing hard and physical. Before this week began, the Blues were second to last in the division in hits.
The last two games, you almost could not count on one hand the number of delay of game or too-many men on the ice penalties the Blues have taken. Those are just mental errors that should not be happening on a team with championship aspirations, however weak they appear right now.
It may sound easy. It might be “common sense” to most of us, but it isn’t appearing that way for the Blues right now.
We don’t need them to have the best penalty kill in the league. Chicago currently has the worst, but they are looking like world beaters again.
The Blues have to find a way to stay out of the box. It’s a thin line given the way today’s game is officiated, but if so many agree that they are playing less physical and yet getting more penalties then something is clearly off.
For a team struggling to score, they don’t need to be wasting upwards of 10 minutes per game short handed. We all complain about the line juggling, but how can they find any cohesion when some fool keeps putting them a player short?
This one is on the players. I don’t want to hear about lack of discipline coming from the staff. If you’re in your mid-20’s to 30’s and haven’t learned not to slash or retaliate or toss pucks out of the rink, then no coach is going to help you.
I hope they figure it out. It is hard to score short handed and the Blues are putting themselves in too many chances where they would have to if they expect to score at all.