Despite their early elimination from the postseason last year, the St. Louis Blues came in flying high as a potential Stanley Cup favorite out of the Western Conference.
Just two months after the season started, though, this is a team that is fighting for a spot in the postseason, with no sort of guarantee that they’ll be playing when May rolls around. Many have already speculated that this team appears to be quitting on Ken Hitchcock, which doesn’t bode well for the home stretch.
But the fact is that this regression that the Blues are experiencing shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This was a team that played out of their collective minds last season. They were the league’s best defensive team and went on an absolute tear once Hitchcock was hired. They had to come back to Earth eventually.
The play between the pipes is obviously of great concern. Brian Elliot has been nothing short of awful after a brilliant campaign in 2011-2012. Jaroslav Halak has a solid GAA, at just 2.13 but a putrid save percentage that’s well under .900.
David Backes has been a bit of a disappointment this season and has spent way too much time in the penalty box. T.J. Oshie has been quiet this year as well. When your two top scorers from last season aren’t producing the way they did last year, there’s an issue. When Chris Stewart is the only one demonstrating any consistency, there’s an issue.
Despite their status as a potentially elite team in the Western Conference, this regression by the Blues is something that everyone should have seen coming. They played out of their minds last year, and couldn’t possibly be expected to keep up that type of pace.