What's Wrong with the Blues?
By Patrick Hoffman
The St. Louis Blues are one of the toughest hockey clubs to figure out.
It seems like every year, they have a great regular season, make the playoffs (except this year), and are consistently contenders. It has been like this for the last several seasons.
With that said, something changed this season. They missed the postseason for the first time in seven seasons.
That's quite a track record of doing everything right to get into the postseason. In the end, however, they always seem to falter.
So, what's the problem with this club? For starters, the team seems to suffer a ton of injuries every year.
Players like Jay Bouwmeester, Scottie Upshall, Robby Fabbri, Carl Gunnarsson, Jaden Schwartz, Robert Bortuzzo, Jake Allen, and Vladimir Tarasenko all missed time this season. Having these guys in and out of the line-up is not a recipe for success.
Obviously, the team itself cannot prevent injuries. They happen to every team at different points in the season. It was just a lot of bad luck at the wrong time that prevented this team from making the postseason.
The team's goaltending was also at fault this season. Starting netminder Jake Allen stunk this year.
In 59 games, he went 27-25-3 with a 2.75 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. The somewhat high GAA and low save percentage is concerning.
Allen, 27, was just very inconsistent. He allowed a lot of soft goals, clearly was not at his best every night, and was not exactly reliable.
This is why team head coach Mike Yeo was not afraid to play his backup netminder, Carter Hutton. In 32 games this year, Hutton posted terrific numbers going 17-7-3 with a 2.09 GAA, a .931 save percentage and three shutouts.
When Allen was struggling, Hutton was the main guy between the pipes and he handled that role extremely well for a guy that is supposed to be a career back-up masked man. It really makes me wonder why despite how well Hutton was playing, Yeo felt the need to continue to play Allen.
This brings me to my next point. Was Yeo the problem this season?
When he took over for Hitchcock during the 2016-17 season, he righted the ship fast and got them past the first round of the playoffs. This season, however, he could not get his club into the playoffs.
Yeo got his team off to a blazing start as they had their best first month of the season in franchise history. However, once injuries started to hit and Allen played poorly, things went downhill awfully fast and it caused them to miss the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see what the organization does in the offseason to ensure that they get back to the playoffs in short order. If they manage to miss the playoffs again next season, that may call for some major changes.
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.