Ive been thinking about what I wanted to do for a Christmas note for the Blues so I stole what FSN-MW did and went with what each of the broadcaster would like to get the Blues for the holidays. Some of these will match up with those some will be different but all would really help put the Blues on the next level.
1. A better power play– The Blues PP unit is still worst in the league even though they are doing better under the Hitchcock regime. At 10.3% the Blues are 2 percent worse than the 2nd worst Canadians. The Blues have 20 wins this season and only 12 PPG. That is the least in the league. The percentage isnt the only problem with the Blues PP. The have only had 116 opportunities which is in the bottom chunk of the league as well. Phoenix is worst in the league at 111 chances so the Blues aren’t that far in front of them. The Blues have however spent the least amount of time on the PP. At a little over 181 minutes of PP time the Blues are averaging a PPG even 15 minutes on the man advantage. Thats a goal every 8 power plays or so. No way is that good enough
Shooting the puck more would probably help as the Blues rank dead last in PP shots too (figures). They only have 129 shots on 116 PP chances. A little over 1 shot every power play is not going to work unless that one shot is always going in. It’s not. To put this in perspective, Columbus, arguably the worst team in the NHL, has 229 shots. 100 more shots in only 31 more chances. Shooting the puck never hurt anyone. You dont always need the perfect pass. Shoot the puck, and you will score.
2. A healthy team– Andy McDonald and BJ Crombeen have both been doing a little light skating lately which is good news for this Blues team and could be getting back Sobotka and Huskins within the next month hopefully, if not at least in time to make a playoff push. This team will thrive with these fresh legs late in the season and hopefully the hockey gods will be decent enough not to nail us with anymore major injuries between now and the rest of the year
3. More strong play for guys like Jason Arnott– Arnott is tied for 4th on the team with 17 points right now and is on pace to put up 40+ points which would be huge on a young team like this. Arnott could be that guy that is the unnoticed veteran leader during the second half of the season and in to the playoffs. Arnott is a key player on the Blues team right now and is doing all the right things to take this team to the “promised land”
4. Chris Stewart– Stewart has played much better in the last 2 or 3 games but still needs to start producing. Stewart is an integral part of the Blues power play as the big force in front of the net and so far this season he has been a non issue. If he can start playing the way he did last season and can start to jumpstart the Blues offense on the PP and on the second line in general then the Blues will be poised to make a push to keep playing til June.
5. More great goaltending– Santa might not need to help out with this one. Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott are the best tandem in the West and probably second best in the league behind Timmy Thomas and Tukka Rask in Boston. If both of them continue to split time until March or April then the Blues can ride whichever goalie is hot through the entire playoffs without any worry of fatigue. Elliott still has NHL leading numbers and is starting to get a few mentions of a possible Vezina Trophy. Unless he plays a hefty majority of the second half though, I dont think he will have the numbers as far as games played to convince the voters to give him the trophy but if he can keep that goals against at 1.50 and save % at around 95% then I dont think the voters would have much choice but to give it to him.
The only problem with Elliott playing so well is this causes such a horrible situation next season between the 3, maybe 4, NHL ready goaltenders in the Blues system. Who stays, who goes? Who starts, who is backup? Do you trade someone for something more important? As the trade deadline gets closer we will look more in depth to the possiblity of a trade and look at any situation the Blues could decide to go with.
Hopefully you enjoyed this. Anything else to add? Do it in the comments. Preview for the Dallas game will hopefully be up after work tomorrow afternoon depending how late I get stuck with all the returns tomorrow. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas