Thanks for joining me today. We'll be chatting momentarily.
Well, this should be interesting. Things aren't going very well for the Blue Note following a pretty good start. There's a lot going wrong and it's not all that simple for us to put into words. But we'll do our best over the next hour or so. I'll take on all questions, all criticism and offer up my best response. Let's get chattin' ...
Well, I would tell your friend that no team has ever gone 5-75-2, so there's a good chance they'll win again.
The first three or four games of the season, they seemed to be playing together. And as we've discussed, when you play together, you move the puck and can look faster than you are. I was quite surprised with how quickly the Blues had made some adjustments and started gelling with some new personnel. I didn't think it was going to be smooth-sailing by any means, but I didn't think we'd be looking a crisis-management situation 11 games into the season. Hey, it's hard to score in the NHL and goals often come in cycles. They should be scoring a lot more than they are, but I do believe that will come. The struggle now is that their scoring issues seemed to have affected the rest of their game, and now we're also getting into a situation where we're wondering... what is their identity. They're not big anymore, so they've got to be fast. But they're not fast. So they've got to be tenacious. We haven't seen that.
Thanks. I had a lot of fun writing about Ray Bennett, who's done a lot for this club over the last 10 years. The article was over-due. Those are the types of pieces I'm hoping to do with the new Blues Insider that we started this year. I'm sure we'll get to everybody at some point. The two you mentioned are also fixtures with the organization and deserving of a piece. Stay tuned.
If you didn't see the tweet a moment ago from my colleague Tom Timmermann, who is at the rink, Carter Hutton will get the start Saturday against Columbus. So the Blues are going to give a break to Allen, who's given up nine goals on 46 shots the past two games. Not all his fault, for sure, but he'll get a chance to catch his breath.
Before I answer that, you have to back the play up to the defensive zone. We all focus on why they're not scoring. But if you're not getting the puck out of your own zone cleanly and playing a good transition game, you're going to have a tough time. So they've got to get that fixed. But once they get in the zone, they're simply not getting enough traffic to the net. I know we say it all the time, and people get tired of hearing it, but it's that simple. The Blues are averaging 29.7 shots per game. They outshot New York and Dallas and lost by a combined score of 11-2. Too much perimeter play and not enough guys willing to get dirty in front of the net.
Cons: defensive coverage issues, guys standing around, goalie struggling a bit, lack of transition, few guys going to the net, questionable identity, etc.
I'd be a little bit worried. Earlier, I was talking about scoring coming in cycles. If you're having trouble for three or four or five games, that's one thing. But when you're two goals or fewer in seven of eight games, that's alarming. We wondered before the season how they would make do without Backes and Brouwer and that element of the game, and now we're seeing that it's a problem. When they were winning early in the year, scoring five goals against Chicago, they got it from the power play and a couple of empty-netters. The power play was good early. But now it's 0-for-last-15 and not covering up for even-strength struggles. The Blues have scored 13 5-on-5 goals and given up 31. No bueno.
This is a valid concern. I will first say that we don't know what kind of accountability is taking place behind the scenes. The only way we would know Stillman's thoughts on Armstrong's performance is whether he spoke on the topic, and what's he supposed to say in that situation, or if he fired him. I don't think that's going to happen. But there have to be questions. We can all play armchair GM and it's not always fair. But over the past couple of years, the Blues have traded Oshie for Brouwer and lost Brouwer. They've let David Backes leave via free agency, a decision that some would agree with, but a decision that will hurt the club this season. The Vladimir Sobotka saga was very troublesome, tying up cap space, etc. There were some who wondered whether it was the right thing to bring Hitchcock back, even though he deserved it after last year's success. But it led to the loss of two qualified assistant coaches and an unprecedented 'coach in waiting' scenario that could soon lead to some awkwardness. So I think there are enough questions to have be concerned. A lot of these decisions were made in the best interest of the future of the organization. But you have to capitalize on last year's run to the conference finals. This franchise was at a point in time where it had to build, and I don't know that the team currently assembled, including the fact that they're attempting to play somewhat of a different style, was the best way to build on that success. Again, it may be best for the club in the long term, but it doesn't help now, which is a critical point in time gaining fans and growing the organization.
I wouldn't read too much into it. If they had two games this week, I think canceling practice should probably raise some eye-brows. But they're playing four games in six days, so you can't run them into the ground. I don't care how bad they looked the past two games. If you want them to look better, they've got to have their rest. The announcement to practice came late last night after the game, but Hitch and the captains probably thought it out this morning and changed the plan.
I like them. What about you guys? Classic and simple and rich in tradition going back to the first year. Pictures don't often do justice, so I would recommend we see them in person before deciding. Some people asked why there wasn't an Winter Classic logo on the sweater pictures that were leaked. There will be patches, they just weren't on those pictures.
That is true. It's definitely about the goaltending, don't get me wrong, but it's more about the team in front of them. Elliott's got it a little tougher playing with a new team, new system, new coach. Allen should be a little more comfortable in his surroundings, but the way the Blues are playing now doesn't resemble how they've looked the past couple of years. When they're not on the same page, he's being asked to bail them out, and he hasn't been able to do that. I'm not taking Allen off the hook, he's had his hiccups for sure, but there's not too many goalies in the league who can win with no offensive support and facing a ton of breakaways and odd-man rushes.
He's had his moments, but I've learned in this business to pay attention to people who see players on an everyday basis, and the hockey scribes in Edmonton said to not get too excited. I think I've mentioned this to you guys before, but the analogy one writer said was that Yakupov plays the game like he's being chased by a swarm of bees. And so while he's had his moments, I think if you've been watched the 11 games, he's been a bit jittery and all over the map. We saw it last night when he had the puck on the doorstep. Hey, honestly, none of us would have put that puck in either, but he treated it like a hot potato. I still think he can be a player, but he's not the player that had all the potential at the draft.
It's tough for me to say that leadership is a problem. I had a lot of respect for guys like Backes, Brouwer, Ott and Elliott and you don't get better by losing those guys in the dressing room. But Pietrangelo, Steen, Stastny and some others have been around this game for a while and they know what needs to be said and done. Could it be better? I don't know, I'm not in the locker room between periods. Are we talking about relationship problems between Hitch and the players again? I'm sure that hasn't gone away. But the Blues don't look like road kill right now because of leadership issues.
Certainly a possibility. But there are different definitions of "if the losing continues." If they go 7-7 in their next 14 games, could it happen? If they go 0-5-2 in their next seven, could it happen? With the future already established with Mike Yeo, I don't think Army is going to wait until the Blues fall back of the pack to make a move. I think we must remember that we're 11 games into the season and that the Blues are 5-4-2, so it's early in the season and the Blues have had some success. But I want to be real here, and with the performances we've been watching lately, anything is possible here.
Perhaps now and then, but he hasn't shown to be a guy that you count on for that kind of play.
I don't think so. He's an NHL player who will figure it out. Like Stastny said the other day, if Fabbri was the only one not producing, it would be different. But Fabbri is one of 12 forwards doing squat. It's a team game and if the team isn't working together, they all look bad. He's one of them.
I was waiting for my first question that was prefaced by how long you've been watching and how long you've been a STH .... so thanks! You're right, this is a cap team, and forgot about the results for a minute, we should at least be seeing some semblance of a plan of attack. This has been very tough to watch. Anybody trying to figure out what page the Blues are trying to be on is probably lost. I think we've addressed some of your question in previous answers, so no need to go back into it. How does it get fixed? That's got to happen on the ice. They could make a trade but no one or two moves is going to change the complexion of the roster. And they're not changing the scheme, even if they turned to Yeo. They've got to play hockey and they're not doing that right now.
I think we'll see the Blues wear the Winter Classic jersey a few times after the game on Jan. 2. And I don't think we'll be seeing the current 3rd jersey anymore.
They can try whatever. So you would be talking about Fabbri-Stastny-Steen, Schwartz-Lehtera-Tarasenko, Perron-Berglund, Yakupov?? They can try it, but I don't know what that's going to do. Like I said early, the goals were coming from the PP, not the 5 on 5 lines.
There wasn't that much to adjust to, and the players are smart enough, they know what needs to be done. The thing is this: look at other teams that are smaller, don't necessarily have the net-front presence guys and try to play a fast game ... Chicago, Pittsburgh ... what do those teams do? They make plays. If you're going to play this way, you've got to have some finishers. I thought the Blues did, but they have done it early. Then if you're not going to finish, you're going to get exposed if you're not going to the net. They're not, so they're getting exposed.