Blues Becoming Road Warriors?
Okay, maybe it’s a little too early to label the St. Louis Blues as road warriors. But winning at two current playoff teams in the Eastern Conference certainly helps. And The Note did some other things in these games that they’ve struggled with recently.
Much has been made of a few weaknesses for the Blues this season. They were mediocre at best on the road; they struggled to score goals, too often relying on defense and goal-tending to get by, and they couldn’t win a shootout to save their lives. Well they fixed (at least temporarily) these problems against the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils.
1. Wins at Ottawa and New Jersey were huge. St. Louis was just 8-11-3 away from the Scottrade Center this year, keeping them a rung below Detroit despite equally outstanding home records. The Devils and Senators were a combined 30-18-5 at home before their games against the Blues, but St. Louis game up with big wins in tough environments. The win over New Jersey is particularly impressive: The Devils had won five straight coming in.
2. Goals are starting to come. No three and four goals are nothing to get overly excited about, but it is a marked improvement when you consider the Blues hadn’t scored more than two goals in four games and only once in the past seven games. Shots on goal were not the problem, St. Louis often dominates it, but they weren’t going in. Against Ottawa they got just 18 shots, but 3 goals. Against the Devils three goals came from 26 shots (the fourth being a shootout goal win).
And the players that need to score are. David Perron has three goals in two games, Chris Stewart tallied against the Devils, as did Patrick Berglund. If they can keep it up, it can make a big trade for a scorer that could potentially break up the team chemistry unnecessary.
3. A second shootout win? Who’d have thunk it. If you score a goal in the shootout it increases your odds of winning. TJ Oshie’s shootout goal was just the third St. Louis has managed all year. And two of the times they have scored, they have won. Funny how that works out. Now it was nothing special of a goal, but a shootout goal is a shootout goal and a shootout win is a shootout win.
As an added bonus, the Blues showed the strength of having two excellent goalies. When #1 Jaroslav Halak struggled early against New Jersey in came All-Star Brian Elliot to stop all 15 shots he saw and record the win. Elliot stopped 28 of 29 in a win over Ottawa, his former team.
If St. Louis wants home-ice advantage in the playoffs, and their record would indicate they do, they need to get points on the road. Only 13 of their final 29 games come at home. It’s a small sample, but its progress on fronts that the Blues have struggled on and it can only bring positive momentum home when they host the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks.