The late-filling 16,047 fans went home happy Thursday, a trend that will only get sweeter.
The Blues are doing a great job possessing the puck in the offensive zone. Though the NHL has no “time of possession” statistic, aside from the opening eight minutes against Chicago, the Blues have sustained significant offensive pressure through the first four games.
19.5 shots allowed per game ranks 1st in the NHL
33.2 shots per game ranks 5th in the NHL
That is nearly a 15 shot difference, a credit to the defensive effort. Alex Pietrangelo leads the team with six blocked shots. A year ago they led the league allowing just 26.7 shots per game.
Jaroslav Halak has two shutouts at home, but both were relatively quiet nights thanks to a strong defensive effort. Still, Halak had a nice bounce back after getting pulled on Monday against this same Nashville team.
Depth is clearly on the their side. When Ken Hitchcock can pull from a list that includes Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Reaves, Matt D’Agostini and Scott Nichol … well that’s called a luxury. I thought Hitch might have started Reaves against the Blackhawks, but hindsight is 20/20.
Get used to this whole Vladimir Tarasenko fella. Tarasenko’s transition from the Russian league into the NHL has been seamless. He’s scored four goals in four games, but most impressive is his quick-release sniper. Tarasenko can unload in a blink of an eye.
It’s been a while since the Blues have had such a dynamic player. I’m not sure we’ve seen a player split two defenders and position his body back to his shooting hand with such explosion. Perhaps he stole Alex Ovechkin’s mojo.
Thursday was better, but the top line of David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and David Perron is still behind. Considering they typically see the opponent’s top scoring line, their physicality sets the tone, and it’s just not quite there yet. Oshie did bang home a power play goal to make it 1-0…the Blues are now 7-of-13 on the PP (53.8% 2nd in NHL).
The Blues have killed 82.4% of penalties (14/17) … but at least half of those have come in the offensive zone, something that must improve.
The Note is playing like the Cup contender everyone thought, but currently sits behind the 4-0 Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division.