St. Louis Blues: The Twelfth Day Of Bluesmas

The St. Louis Blues have spent the last few years at or near the top of the NHL. This season has seen them slip to the middle of the pack and it isn’t a nice feeling.

On the twelfth day of Bluesmas, the blue note gave to me, twelve crying nights. Well, maybe most of us have not been shedding actual tears over the St. Louis Blues, but the team has gotten us close.

The Blues have twelve losses in 2016. We are still six games away from the official midpoint of the season and the Blues’ loss total is halfway to their season total from last year.

Additionally, the Blues are currently ranked twelfth in the entire NHL. That is not terrible, but being in the middle of the pack is not where the Blues are accustomed to being.

The issue is not just that they are losing at a slightly higher rate than last season. The problem is their way of losing.

We are almost halfway through the season and it is the exact same mistakes over and over again. We aren’t talking about a version of this and a slightly version of that. It is the exact same thing, team wide.

Defensemen put up a Swiss cheese wall in front of Jake Allen. They back up to the point they are no longer of use in blocking anything. They also screen their goaltender.

Opposing offenses don’t even need a big body in front of the Blues goal many nights. Our own defenders do such a good job of blocking the goalie’s vision that there is no need.

Before the Allen bashers get all up in arms, I’m not letting him off the hook completely. He has not played up to his capabilities.

All goaltenders let up soft goals. Even with that in mind, he has not helped the team’s cause by letting a few slip by that should not have.

The entire team has not performed up to snuff though.

The offense has gone dry at the most inopportune times. The defense is almost nonexistent some games.

Perhaps it is a St. Louis thing. Maybe there is something in the water.

The St. Louis Cardinals have gone through similar stretches in their last few years. They either get good pitching and can’t score or vice versa. There have been several seasons where it felt as though the birds would either put up 11 or 1 with nothing in between.

The Blues offense has not been quite that potent, but there are nights it felt that way. They are clearly capable of scoring since they can keep pace with the high powered Blackhawks.

The problem circles back to the defense though. St. Louis can’t get into a track meet because they lack the ability to get that critical stop.

It really makes no sense. There are people who want to blame it on the players that are not on the team, but that doesn’t make sense either.

David Backes is not a defender. Troy Brouwer is not a defender. Brian Elliott is not winning in Calgary and would not be making a difference in St. Louis with the current defending.

The defensive corps is the same as it was last season. The Blues had a few of the problems last year, but not to this extent.

The main difference is within the coaching staff. Rick Wilson has had good defensive records in other spots, but he clearly has not figured out how to straighten out this roster.

We were promised, by Ken Hitchcock himself, an edgier defense under Wilson. They could not be farther from that statement.

With the exception of Joel Edmundon (Robert Bortuzzo qualifies when healthy) the Blues don’t have a defender willing to throw a body. Even Colton Parayko, with his size, tries to utilize his stick too much.

Couple the poor defending with a lack of presence by some higher profile guys and you have the recipe for a team that is only twelfth in the league.

Nobody gets a pass on this. If you must, Vladimir Tarasenko gets one since he’s on pace to increase his point total again, but he still doesn’t come up in the clutch as often as we’d all like to see.

st. louis blues

Nov 9, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) controls the puck along the boards during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Steen has been a nonfactor offensively. Players we keep hoping will step up like Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie haven’t done anything either.

There is nothing to say this team is going in the tank, no matter what the doomsayers want you to believe. Conversely, there is not enough evidence to suggest this team is anything but what we see.

Fittingly, the twelfth loss brought us to our rather sad twelfth day of Bluesmas. The Blues took a demanding lead against Tampa Bay and then saw five goals go unanswered.

That’s how things have gone this year. The Blues look great for moments only to get slapped in the face.

Twelve doesn’t seem to be a lucky number this year. The twelfth loss came far too early in the season.

Having 11 teams in front of you in the standings, regardless of conference affiliation, is not a comforting spot. We all know how number 12’s game has gone up and down.

On the bright side, Jaden Schwartz has 12 goals. Robby Fabbri has 12 assists.

Even that isn’t quite enough to salvage some holiday cheer. The Blues have blown third period leads, they’ve been handed embarrassing losses and look listless at times.

You will never hear me say this team does not have a chance. For all we know, the Blues might end up being like the LA Kings. Maybe this time they sneak into the playoffs and then make their run.

It seems unlikely, but the number of President’s Trophy winners taking the Cup is small. So, perhaps just making it into the playoffs really is enough.

We will see. For now, I appreciate you taking the time to read our Twelve Days of Bluesmas.

I hope you enjoyed it, or some of it. May you have a blessed time with friends and family during this holiday season, regardless of what you choose to celebrate.

Let’s all hope 2017 has bigger things in store for the Blues than the latter half of 2016 has given us. Maybe Santa has a present hidden way in the back corner that we won’t find until June.

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