The Blues will try to protect the castle again on Monday night when Ottawa visits Enterprise Center to test The Note’s vulnerability on home ice.
This topic is now A Thing to be discussed. And why not? The Blues have dropped two in a row at the home rink and are 8-10-2 at Enterprise that season for a .450 points percentage that’s tied for 26th in the NHL.
I’d like to point out something: this is no aberration. The Blues have been outplayed on a regular basis at home and have the home-ice record that they deserve. When the Blues lose a game inside their home, we should not be surprised. It makes sense, and is usually a fair outcome.
In 20 home games this season the Blues:
* Have 47.5 percent of total shot attempts, which ranks 28th among home teams this season. And have 48.8 percent of the shots on goal, which ranks 27th.
* They’ve scored 44.2 percent of the overall goals at home, which ranks 27th.
* The Blues are also 27th in scoring-chance percentage, 30th in high-danger shots percentage, and last in the NHL in high-danger goal share.
When the home-standing Blues have such glaring deficits in shot attempts, shots on net, overall goals, scoring chances and high-danger goals, I’m not sure why we’d be taken aback by their dingy record at home.
At Enterprise Center the Blues have been outscored 46-36 at five-on-five and 72-57 at all strength. Those goal-differential minuses explain everything including their lack of effort and mental shortcomings that lead to mistakes and opponent goals.
They’ve also been embarrassed in the high-danger territories – slot and crease – with visiting teams outscoring the Blues by a ridiculous 42-17 on those HD chances at all strengths.
Even with the Blues chipping away for a respectable 9-5-3 record since Dec. 11, the mark doesn’t reflect the quality of their play. Though the Blues have a 55-53 edge in overall goals during this time, their alarmingly poor expected-goals share (43.4%) is a more accurate measure of who they really are.
When the Blues win, it’s usually because they come alive with a dramatic increase in goal scoring that is more of an outlier than reality.
The Blues are 14-20 this season in games decided during regulation. In their 14 wins, they’ve averaged 4.28 goals (all situations.) That’s flukish and unsustainable. In their 20 regulation losses, the Blues have been suppressed to a dull average of 2.0 goals in all situations.
The pattern is similar in home games. The Blues are a dreadful 5-10 in regulation. They’ve averaged 2.00 goals in the 10 regulation home losses, and 4.4 goals in the five victories.
The Blues have collected only 18 of a maximum 40 points at home this season. Only four NHL teams have fewer points on home ice so far. After a 3-1 road trip and a home win over Calgary to open a seven-game home stay, the Blues have lost two in a row at Enterprise.
“Our home play has not been good enough this year. That’s what I see right now. I see, like I talked about, not playing a gritty enough game. We’ve got to do a better job of it.
“You’re not going to get any easy games right now for sure,” coach Craig Berube told the media after Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay. Teams are going to check and they’re going to check hard. And again, there’s not a lot of room out there. We’ve got to fight through it and we’ve got to fight through it more. They’ve got to find more emotion and they’ve got to find more energy and they’ve got to play with more grit right now.”
There’s no excuse for this particular weakness at home. The Blues are an enigma. They aren’t a killer on the road this season, but they are 13-10-1 (.563) away from home for the league’s 14th-best road points percentage.
The Blues — 21-20-3 overall — have four more home games to go on this stretch of schedule, and the return of winger Vladimir Tarasenko is imminent. So once again we can do the usual dance and talk about the Blues’ opportunity to reverse their flow of their season. Here we go again.
But if the Blues can’t do much else than talk about it – then there won’t be much to talk about going forward.
To this point the Blues are what they are – even if we keep trying to convince ourselves that they’re better than they are.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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