(St. Louis, Mo.) The Blues have a lot to be happy about, having won 7 of their last 8 games, including consecutive shutouts against Edmonton and Dallas. As I wrote yesterday, they boast a balanced attack, the defense protects and produces, and they have two lights out goalies. They’ve posted and NHL-best 20-3-3 mark at home and hold opposing offenses to a league-best 21 shots per game. However, when a team is playing well they can fall into a dangerous habit of being complacent and allowing teams to stay in games longer than they should.
But don’t take it from me, here’s Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock:
The Blues posted the first 18 shots of the game.
Go ahead, reread that. No it isn’t a typ0. The Blues at one point led in shots 18-0. When all was said and done they finished with a 38-15 advantage in shots. To make matters worse the Blues twice found themselves on a 5 on 3 power play and were unable to put the puck in the net. In total the ‘Note were 0-5 with an advantage last night and are only 5-36 on the power play this month.
Ken Hitchcock isn’t worried about the power play, he says the team is really close to scoring and just blames it on a lack of offensive intensity and realizes this needs to be fixed quickly.
The Blues barely got by Edmonton last night. They play Buffalo tomorrow and close out the first half of the season with games against Detroit and Pittsburgh. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier after the All-Star break either, as they will play Los Angles, Nashville, Ottawa, and New Jersey in early February. Those won’t be teams that will let the Blues get away with not finishing goals or taking advantage of power play opportunities, just as Hitchcock pointed out in the soundbite above.
Coach Hitchcock says that he thinks playing at home so often is to blame for the Blues complacent attitude.
He’s right about the team gaining their edge from the road. Just take a look at college basketball, the conference road schedule shows a lot about teams and their true character, the same can be said for teams in the NHL.
The month of February should be a good test for the Bluenote, as they will play 9 of their 14 scheduled games on the road, including trips to Chicago, Ottawa and two games in Nashville. Look for the second half of the season to show us what this team is really capable of.
Thanks for reading.