False Existence

Odd similarities bring back haunting memories. 

Remember the 2010-2011 season? The Blues started 6-1-2, and ESPN.com listed them #1 in their power rankings. Blues fans could barely control the ecstasy of such honor. Social media blew up with Cup Crazy thoughts. Then T.J. Oshie broke an ankle, David Perron and Andy McDonald suffered serious concussions, and the Blues stumbled through a mediocre season including a 2-8-2 January. The Blues missed the playoffs.

Detroit Red Wings v St. Louis BluesSomething about that 6-1-2 start sounds familiar…

Nothing about the outcome sounds fun.

The 2013 Blues started hotter than Kate Upton (which of course can be seen everyday on the sidebar). They did a bit of everything; won at home, won the road and came back on several occasions. But warning signs like bad defense and bad goaltending kept popping up.

When Ian Walsh gave David Backes a game misconduct major for a legal check on Kent Huskins, the boys in blue began this everlasting free fall. They blew a 3rd period lead and eventually lost 5-3 in Detroit.

Homestand From Hell 

The Blues had three days off after the frustrating loss at Detroit. It opened a four-game homestand — a chance to get the good hockey rolling again.

Not exactly.

They came out dead flat losing 6-1 to Nashville, followed by a 5-1 loss to Detroit, then a 6-5 OT loss to Anaheim, and ultimately a 4-1 loss to L.A. A grand ONE point out of 8. The 5-game losing streak feels like the apocalypse.

The Problem

The 5v5 play is lifeless. Perhaps acceptable in Peoria, the stale even strength play is baffling. Good teams score on the power play, but great teams don’t rely on the man advantage to win hockey games. Living by the PP is not a formula for success. The Blues create zero solid scoring chances because they’re losing every battle on the boards. It’s forcing the defense to pinch, and leading to odd man rushes (goals).

Anaheim Ducks v St. Louis BluesThe Blues defense is playing awful. It starts with passing. Lazy turnovers on both ends of the ice are happening way too often. It’s hard to even pin the problem on one pair because it’s the entire unit. This can’t last: 

Wade Redden (-7)

Roman Polak (-6)

Alex Pietrangelo (-3)

Ian Cole is recognizing he can’t play college hockey at this level. Several missed checks led to multiple LA scoring chances on Monday.

Playing 40 minutes of hockey won’t win too many games in the NHL. Sure, a goalie might rob a game, but depending on a brick wall every night is unrealistic. Last year, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott stole quite a few contests, which has not been the case this season.

Goaltending is a serious problem. Elliott is flopping like a croppy on ice. He has no defensive support, but he’s also not seeing the puck. With Jaroslav Halak re-aggravating a groin injury, the Blues might need Darren Pang to strap on the pads.

Concerns

The physicality is missing. The Blues got run over for the first half of the LA game. Wade Redden, not a known fighter, had to throw down with a much bigger Jordan Nolan after taking exception to a hit on Chris Stewart. Finally, albeit too late, Vladimir Sobotka beat down Trevor Lewis, and David Backes got into it as well.

But where is the answer to getting pushed around? Where is the resolve and fight of a blue-collar hockey team trying to score in the hard areas of the ice? What happened to it?

After the game David Backes said this regarding some players on the team:

This is a serious concern. I’m not going to speculate on who is getting called out, but GM Doug Armstrong needs to rid any ounce of such mindset immediately.

The Blues get to escape the pathetic Scottrade Center atmosphere and find their high gear on the road. It starts tomorrow on national TV against Detroit, where the entire slide began.

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