Reality Check

Ken Hitchcock said the magic two words regarding Chicago’s style of play after the 3-0 loss Thursday night: “they work”.

Perhaps Hitch is asking too much from his own players that don’t have the skill set. It’s unfortunate because that’s the style it takes to win in the National Hockey League.

The Blues had four days off to fine-tune their game — starting with transition and tempo. Let’s make one thing clear: there was no transition and tempo last night. Forced sloppy passes in the defensive zone led to more turnovers and the same breakdowns we’ve seen all season.

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis BluesObviously, the Blues played without Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, and Vladimir Tarasenko, which is a pretty big blow. That’s three legitimate goal scorers not on the ice … and for a team that owns 4 goals in their last 4 home games, yikes. Still, where is all the ‘depth’ this team gushed as a crutch after the lockout ended?

When you play a team like Chicago, it’s a measuring stick. What’s scary? The Blues didn’t play all that bad, but they never had much going offensively, and every good scoring chance they planted directly into Ray Emery’s chest. They only managed 21 shots for the entire game, and 8 of them came when Chicago was up 3-0 in ultra conservative mode. St. Louis went 0-4 on the power play.

Chicago works hard on both ends of the ice and its parlayed into a 17-0-3 record. The Blackhawks have legitimate firepower … the Blues aren’t sure who will show up when.

They rely on their 4th line to do way too much, and Ryan Reaves looks like he may need a seat upstairs. I’ve harped enough on the first line, but their play is killing the entire tempo of the team.

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis BluesThe Blues should consider trading David Perron. Perron, a restricted free agent after this season, seems to play a different, more fluid game on the road. He finished February as a -7, and his lack of physicality makes him one-dimensional. He occasionally flashes his hands, but he gets knocked off the puck too easily to score consistently. Perhaps he can get things on track tonight against a team he’s accrued a +11 against in his career.

The high-flying Edmonton Oilers are in town and watch out. Though the Blues have won 5 straight against Edmonton in dominant fashion, the Oil come in at 8-7-4 with 20 points overall. They play a completely different style of hockey. Everything is north/south full of youthful speed. They give up the 2nd most shots in the league, but they also average 29 shots per game. They’re statistically the worst 5v5 team in the league, but their special teams are very good (87.4% PK; 22.5% PP).

I don’t like where this game is headed. Enjoy.

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