St. Louis Blues: Offensive Support Allowing Jaroslav Halak To Thrive
It’s no secret that the St. Louis Blues have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league. Over the past two seasons, they have thrived behind the netminding of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott (and for part of 2013, Jake Allen). Halak is off to a great start to the 2013-14 season, and he has benefitted from a lot more goal support than he is used to. The Blues have scored 19 goals in four games, with only one being decided by a one-goal margin. That game was an overtime win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, easily the signature win of the first week of the season. While St. Louis has been regarded as one of the top defensive teams in the Western Conference, the increase in offensive output has to make them an early favorite for the postseason. Last season the Blues hd the eighth-best goals-against, but were 17th in the league in goals per game.
The Blues rolled to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday, the third time they’ve scored four or more goals in a game this season. In addition to Halak’s stellar 1.75 goals-against average and .934 save percentage, he also has one shutout. The Blues boast the most potent power play in the league at the moment, and have six goals with the man-advantage. David Backes had a pair of goals against the Rangers, and now has four goals and six points. Alex Steen leads the team with four goals and eight points. He has scored two power play goals and came up big with the overtime winner against the Blackhawks. So far, there’s no signs of a sophomore slump for Vladimir Tarasenko, who has three goals and four points. Ten of the 18 players (excluding Halak) who have hit the ice this season have put at least one puck in the back of the net, which is a testament to how easy it is for this Blues team to strike with any one of their four lines, or even their defense. Halak battled injuries and had a rough 2013 season, and if he can continue to get this kind of offensive support he should find himself atop the league’s leaderboards very soon.