Davis Payne is faced with the difficult task of convincing the members of the St. Louis Blues that they should play hard down the stretch in the role of spoilers. This has got to be agonizing for the second year NHL coach. Nobody (except everyone outside of St. Louis and a handful of people whom follow hockey very closely) planned on the St. Louis Blues finishing the season outside of the playoff race looking in, but that is the reality we are faced with. Although no player on the Blues’ roster will tell you that there is any excuse for their lack of success, missing your entire first powerplay unit for the majority of the season due to injury is more than a legitimate excuse. Imagine the Yankees minus their infield; trajic. No GM in the NHL could have planned for this. Knowing that the Blues lacked sufficient depth at forward would have made the Blues prime targets for the 29 other NHL GM’s to pillage the Blues in any kind of trade. San Jose plucked Kyle Wellwood off waivers. Nashville plucked Marek Svatos as well. The stupidity of the waiver rule for players playing over seas is as stupid as we all know it is an it is a moot point now.
The Blues slowly died in front of our faces. Matt D’agostini and Vladamir Sobotka were asked to play top six roles, which is something that neither has done since their days in the AHL and Junior Hockey. Although they filled in admirably and showed that they will be key third liners in years to come, they were no match for the defensemen on opposing teams. Although Jaroslav Halak showed that he has a tendency to give up a soft goal from time to time (see Phoenix game winner on Tuesday night), his GAA ballooned due to the constant glorious scoring opportunities that were surrendered by the Blues’ oft injured, undermanned, and underage defensive core. This Blues team has all of the makings of a playoff team though, but not in 2011. Unless the new ownership search takes a disastrous turn, we can all take refuge in the fact that there will be hockey at Scottrade center next April, May, and (please God in my lifetime) June in the very near future.
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Written by Patrick McLellan