High expectations are dangerous. Just like combining tequila and wine. I won’t name names the way Sammy “The Bull” Gravano did, but you know who you are. You’re the ones who publicly predicted the Blues would finish 6th or higher. The ones who boldly and ignorantly stated the Blues would make the playoffs this season. I asked why back then and will repeatedly ask why until I receive a sensible answer. This most likely means I’ll continue to ask why more than a 5-year old.
Let’s really begin this by looking back. I wrote on August 12, 2010, an article titled “5 keys for the Blues to return to the postseason”. Please go back and read this brilliant column. For those of you too lazy, and you know who you are since you comprise most of the 10% of the unemployed, here is a refresher:
First key-light the lamp. Well the Blues have been unable to score all season. The team finished tied for 15th last season with 225 goals scored. The organization did nothing in the offseason to improve the offense. But for reasons unclear, many of you felt the offense would improve for…wait for it…what reasons exactly? The Blues currently sit 24th in the league with 148 goals scored. They are on pace to finish below last season’s embarrassing rate. The offense was bad last season with Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya in the lineup. The O this season is worse than Christina Aguilera trying to sing the National Anthem.
Second key–stingy goaltending. When the Blues traded for Jaroslav Halak, you would have thought they just acquired the second coming of Glenn Hall and Terry Sawchuk combined. Halak was coming off an incredible postseason run, but other than that, he certainly was not a proven starter in this league. The Blues were giving him his first opportunity as a full-time “go to” guy. The pressure would be much less in St. Louis than in Montreal, but the workload would be an entirely different story. Halak has been average this season. He started great, then went cold, fought off the lean streak with some effective goaltending, but has been inconsistent for much of the season. He seems to have the ability and mental strength to become a solid stopper, but there is no question the Blues and their fans expected more from him this season. He has definitely not delivered stingy goaltending.
Third key–tighter zone coverage. Eeesh. The Blues finished with an impressive 11th overall ranking in goals against last season with 218 allowed. This season the team has been lost in their own zone. Brutal turnovers and poor reads have plagued the team all season. Head Coach Davis Payne has not been able to improve and correct this glaring weakness. The Blues currently rank 20th in the league with 164 goals against. With 27 games remaining, the team can realistically end up allowing over 250 goals this season. Their zone coverage has been about as good as Lindsay Lohan in a jewelry store.
Fourth key–power play. Ughhh. The atrocious power play has been a major reason why the Blues will miss the playoffs. The team was bad last season, finishing 20th in the league with 52 power play goals. This season Coach Payne has once again failed to solve the issue. The team ranks 25th in the league with 30 power play tallies. They have just four 5 on 3 goals and have yet to score with any of their 4 on 3′s. The team has been unable to deliver key power play scores all season and will pay for it when the season officially ends after game number 82. Their power play is as efficient as Jerry Jones trying to host a Super Bowl.
Fifth key–no golfing. That was a humorous attempt at saying they must stay healthy. Due to the organization’s complete and utter failure at adding much needed depth in the offseason, the team could ill-afford any key injuries. This ain’t golf we’re playing here. Injuries are going to occur, and guess what? They came in bunches. It was clearly a case of the Hockey Gods telling the Blues management team to smarten up. David Perron? See ya! T.J. Oshie? Adios! Andy McDonald? Buh-bye!
So as you can clearly see, I was not fooled by the false expectations applied to this team. Too many areas were left wide open to be exploited. If management decides to go with this same roster next season, the keys will be the same and the results will be identical. They will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. I implored them in the offseason to look at Ray Whitney to help their power play. I strongly urge them now to find ways to improve their overall offense. Coach Payne also must create solutions to improve play in their own zone. Halak needs to be more aggressive and certain with his decisions. So many departments the team will need to focus in on. But one thing is certain, don’t fall for the company line like you did this season. In conclusion, don’t worry my faithful St. Louis sports fans. Cardinals baseball is right around the corner. Uh oh, nevermind.
About the Author
Written by Dave Frederick
Dave has spent more than 20 years covering the NHL for a variety of different media outlets. Most notably ESPN, Fox Sports and the National Hockey League.