Are The Blues Good Enough to Both Get In and Have Success in the Playoffs?
By Patrick Hoffman
**This piece was drafted on March 22, 2018**
Throughout the last several seasons, the St. Louis Blues have been one of the most consistent teams in the National Hockey League.
This is a club that always makes the playoffs, puts up good numbers in the regular season, and is usually one of the best teams in the Central Division and Western Conference. It can be said that the Blues are always a given to make the playoffs.
That has not been the case this season. As of this writing (March 22), the Blues find themselves outside the playoff picture.
The team is currently (As of March 22) two points out of the second wild card (held by the Los Angeles Kings) spot and three points out of the first wild card spot (held by the Colorado Avalanche). While they obviously still have a good chance to get into the playoffs, the question is whether they are good not to not only get in, but have success should they find a way into the dance.
This is a team that has struggled in several areas of their game this season. The most noticeable one has been the inconsistent play of Jake Allen.
Even though Allen, 27, has played well recently, his numbers are not great. Allen is currently (As of March 22) is 24-21-2 with a 2.75 goals against average, a .906 save percentage, and one shutout.
He has not been anywhere close to being a consistent starter this season. He has allowed a lot of soft goals this season and because of his erratic play between the pipes this season, the team has had to turn to back-up Carter Hutton 16-7-3 in 30 games) to get some wins. If his play does not greatly improve, not only might this team miss the playoffs, but they might get bounced right out in the first round should they manage to get in.
Another area the Blues have struggled in is scoring goals. They are currently (As of March 22) 24th in the league in that category and have had trouble putting the puck in the net all season long.
While guys like Brayden Schenn (62 points), Vladimir Tarasenko (58 points), and Jaden Schwartz (53 points) have all been good this season, other forwards have not stepped up this season. If you want to get into the playoffs and then have success in them, the puck needs to start going in the net with some regularity, something the Blues have had trouble with this season.
Speaking of the team's offense, their power play is one of the worst in the league. The Blues currently (March 22) have the third worst power play in the entire league, which is extremely worrisome because if they do make the playoffs, they will need to be better in this area of their game.
Lastly, I am not quite sure what to make of the team's management. This is especially the case when it comes to the trading of Paul Stastny to division foe Winnipeg Jets/ Stastny was apparently a great leader for them in the locker room and was also solid offensively (40 points in 63 games).
The Blues have clearly been a tough team to figure out this season, which is why I am not sure they will be good enough to get into the playoffs and then have success in them.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.