The Blues had a record of 0-2-1 during their spring-break trip to the New York city area, a place where the saloons stay open until 4 a.m. Thank goodness the boys returned home from their vacation on Sunday. They’ll get a chance to catch up on their rest, clean up and reset in time to play four of the next five games at Enterprise Center.

Now that I’ve thrown a couple of jabs for fun, let’s get serious.

Everybody relax. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Repeat.

As Jim Thomas points out, the weekend capped a stretch in which the Blues spent 18 of 21 games on the road. That ain’t easy … especially when you stay in NYC for nearly a week.

As a general principle I’m all in favor of overreacting, but I’ll take a pass on this opportunity. I’ll grant you that the Blues’ disappointing trip was as annoying as hell. Sure, they must get back back to business.

But this little 0-2-1 float trip becomes a problem only if it continues. And it’s up to the Blues to handle that by coming out of the fog and getting realigned. With 27 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, it’s time to stop fooling around.

Some bits of perspective:

1) Before playing the three NYC–area teams over a five-day stretch, the Blues had the seventh-best points percentage in the NHL (.673) and were second to the monstrous Colorado in the Western Conference. Should we evaluate the Blues based on their 52-game body of work before the road trip – or go bonkers by choosing to define the Blues on their 0-2-1 comedown? I happen to believe that a large 52-game sample is more important than a three-game TikTock.

2) The Blues lost to the New York Rangers. I didn’t like the way the tourists lost at Madison Square Garden, but the Rangers are a better team than the Blues this season. So is losing by a goal – until empty–netter time – really such a terrible thing? We expect the Blues to do well at home; so why wouldn’t we expect the Rangers to do the same.

3) Saturday’s 2-1 loss at the New York Islanders was more irritating. And though the Blues salvaged a point at New Jersey, the 3-2 overtime loss stung. Not only did the Blues lose to an inferior team, but the lowly Devils went 1-0-1 against St. Louis this season. That said, here’s some friendly advice: beware the false narrative. Even though the Blues played down to New Jersey’s level in the two meetings, that isn’t the norm. The Blues are 10-1-3 against the league’s bottom eight teams this season. And they’re 13-4-3 (.750) against opponents with losing records.

4) The 0-2-1 display prompted plenty of anger, and I understand because I was ticked off myself. But when playing at five on five in the last three games combined the Blues had more shot attempts, more shots on goal and an equal number of high-danger shots. They were outscored by one goal (6-5) at five on five and had more high-danger goals (3-2) at five on five. This doesn’t justify failure. I’m just pointing out that all three games were there for the taking; it’s not as if the Rangers, Isles and Devils ran them off the ice. The Blues should be blamed for not coming away with more than one of a possible six points. That’s the problem.

5) For all of the talk about defensemen, defensemen, defensemen … the Blues gave up an average of 2.55 goals per 60 minutes at five on five during the three-game trip. This wasn’t much higher than their season average of 2.33 goals per 60 at five on five.

6) The Blues didn’t have the usual fallback security provided by their special teams. The Note had only six power plays on the trip and were blanked each time. In the final two games, at NYI and NJ, the Blues had only three power plays to the home teams’ eight. But it’s always risky business to rely on special teams as the primary source of success. The Blues aren’t going to win many games when they muster only five goals at five on five over three games.

7) Overall the Blues have scored plenty of goals this season, ranking fifth in the league with an average of 3.49 goals per game. And through March 1, they’d averaged 3.85 goals over a 28-game stretch. Again: perspective. A three-game goal slump isn’t desirable, but the overall showing through 55 games is far more meaningful.

8) I agree with critics that say the Blues need to shoot more often. But I’m not sure the fuss over blocked shots is warranted. Yes, the Blues had too many shots blocked (47 total) by the Rangers and Islanders. But once again, let’s have some perspective. As I wrote last week and will update now: Even with the Rangers and Isles blocking all of those shots, the Blues still have the fifth-lowest percentage of shots blocked among the 32 teams this season. That’s a big plus – and a factor in their robust scoring this season. But do we really expect the Blues to avoid a high blocked-shot total in every game? It doesn’t work that way. I’d rather emphasize the low percentage of blocked shot attempts for the entire season instead of freaking out over two games.

9) Monday morning I checked around the interwebs and comments sections to gauge the reaction from Blues fans. Evidently Ryan O’Reilly was to blame for the 0-2-1 trip. Which is interesting to me. In the three games O’Reilly teamed with David Perron and Brandon Saad for just under 20 minutes of five on five play. With this line on the ice at five on five the Blues outscored opponents 2-0, had 76.4 percent of the shots on goal, 78% of the total shot attempts and an expected goals rate of 85.7%. Perron (illness) didn’t play Saturday, so O’Reilly centered a line that included Oskar Sundqvist and Saad. The line wasn’t great but it did fine in 7:04 of five on five time with a 4-1 edge on shots on goal – and no goals scored, for or against. And the fans’ takeaway is to jump all over O’Reilly? Huh.

10) Not a good trip for the Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko line. In their 23 minutes at five on five, the Blues were outscored 2-0 and had an expected goals rate of 37.4%.

10a) Probably the worst thing about the 0-2-1 lag was the play of the Blues’ fourth liners. Don’t these guys understand how they’re supposed to play, and what’s expected of them by coach Craig Berube? Well, the call was delivered Monday when the Blues demoted Klim Kostin and Dakota Joshua to AHL Springfield and  promoted Mackenzie MacEachern and Alexei Toropchenko. Yes. Good move. A message move.

11) This three-game roadie completed a stretch in which the Blues would play eight of nine away from Enterprise Center. The result: a 5-2-2 record, with the Blues outscoring opponents 32-22 overall and 22-14 at five on five. Moreover, the Blues outscored opponents 18-10 (all strengths) in goals from the high-danger areas.

12) Niko Mikkola was, shall we say, a little frantic during the 0-2-1 trip. But in the finest spirit of overreaction, some in the media went bananas, using a rocky three-game sequence as proof positive of the desperate need for a defenseman to be acquired by manager Doug Armstrong. Couple of things here: (A) the Blues need a defenseman, either way. Even if Mikkola had played great, the Blues would be shopping for a defenseman. And (B) while being hyped for no apparent reason, Mikkola struggled for an extensive stretch that culminated with a nightmare performance in a 7-1 loss at Calgary on Jan. 27. But in his 12 games since then, Mikkola is +10 with a strong expected goal percentage of 57.9 at five on five. His inexperience will show at times, but it’s ridiculous to go nuts over a couple of disappointing games.

13) Underrated Blue: defenseman Jake Walman. Since returning to usage on Jan. 13, Walman has an outstanding expected goals percentage of 61.8 percent at five on five. And he’s played well with each of his three primary defensive partners.

Justin Faulk, 16 minutes, 61.9% expected goals pct.
Colton Parayko, 20 minutes, 86% x goals pct.
Robert Bortuzzo, 82 minutes, 59.1% x goals pct.

Walkman and Torey Krug have worked only 4:49 together but have an expected goal percentage of 66.5%.

14) After the mostly lost weekend in the NY district, came out of it with limited damage to their NHL Central Division standing. The Blues lost no ground to first-place Colorado. They lost a point in the standings to both Minnesota and Nashville. But the most interesting development can be spotted in Dallas. The Stars have won four in a row and are 14-4-1 since Jan. 20. The run has improved the Stars record to 32-19-3 for the season, and they’re tied with Minnesota for third place in the division with 67 points – only four behind the second-place Blues. That was the costliest factor in the Blues’ NYC visit; Dallas gained five points on the Blues in the Central standings.

15) Finally: if you think the Blues are getting pummeled in excess after a three-game screw up, take a look at what they’re saying about the Minnesota Wild in the Twin Cities.

Minnesota has lost eight out of 10 games since Feb. 16. Sunday, the Wild had a one-goal lead over visiting Dallas and lost by 6-3.

This prompted some excellent fire writing from beat-writer Michael Russo of The Athletic:

“The free-falling Minnesota Wild’s list of needs before the March 21 trade deadline continues to grow exponentially.

“Remember when many of us thought they were one center away from being a true Stanley Cup contender?

“Well, in a 10-game span, the Wild suddenly look like a team that needs a rugged defenseman to clear players from the dirty areas, a bunch of forwards to buy in again to Dean Evason’s system, a goalie who doesn’t continually give up backbreaking goals and a month or two off to clear their extraordinarily brittle minds.

“This once-confident, deep, precision-like, entertaining team is anything but right now and showing telltale signs of fragility at every position to the point that its once-locked playoff spot has become as delicate as its overall game.

“It doesn’t matter how well they start, how fast they skate, how hard they hit or what button Evason pushes, the moment one thing goes wrong, the Wild disintegrate into a hundred pieces like ice on a lake as springtime nears.”

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. 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 “Bernie Show” podcast at — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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All stats used here are sourced from Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, Money Puck and Evolving Hockey unless otherwise noted.