Five Minutes For Scribing:
The Blues stayed down, and were kept down, by the Los Angeles Kings in two consecutive losses at Enterprise Center.
After a 7-2-1 record in their first 10 games of the season, the Blues came out of the next 10 games with a 3-6-1 record. That’s where the Blues are today after the back-to-back disposals by the surging Kings. The contrast between the opening 10-game blocks is obvious.
At this point there isn’t much to say other than to reinforce what we already know.
One, the Blues are flattened by injuries. The impact is real, and it is devastating, and to pretend otherwise is maximum-strength idiocy.
Two, the Blues need more from their available players who have the talent and experience to make a positive difference. Players that can lift the Blues out of the blues.
Speaking of which …
One of the most famous songs by the immortal Robert Johnson is “I Got Stones In My Passway.”
“I got stones in my passway
And my road seem dark as night.”
Your St. Louis Blues are standing in that troublesome spot. Hurt, frustrated, confused, unnerved. And unable to see the daylight.
“It’s the situation that we’re in,” coach Craig Berube said in advance of the Blues’ 2-1 loss to LA on Wednesday night. “We’ve just got to move forward and go play and win some games.”
The Blues trail of woes is covered by familiar mistakes, and flaws and themes.
During the 3-6-1 downswing they’ve been outscored 21-11 when playing at 5-on-5. The famine is harsh, with the Blues failing to score a single 5v5 goal in five of the 10 games — and netting no more than one 5v5 goal in seven of the 10. And they’re 1-5-1 in their last seven home games.
The Blues are doing harmful things to themselves — committing too many defensive-zone turnovers, or flunking chances to clear the puck into the neutral zone and away from danger. They don’t swarm the net, hungry to hunt for rebounds.
There’s no excuse for the feeble power play; even with some star players on the injured list the Blues can put capable PP units on the ice.
Over the last 10 games David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly each have logged just over 30 minutes on the power play, followed by Brayden Schenn (27 minutes), Mike Hoffman (26), and Jordan Kyrou (19.) For the defensemen, Torey Krug has 28 minutes of PP time during the 10-game stretch, with Vince Dunn and Justin Faulk each clocking 19 minutes.
And yet …
The Blues are 0 for 8 on the PP during their current three-game losing streak. They’ve converted 4 of 30 power play setups (13.3%) in the last 10 games. And for the season the Blues have only 8 PP goals in 62 opportunities (12.9%, No. 28 in the NHL.)
We saw the Kings score two 5v5 goals Wednesday against the same group of five Blues’ skaters: O’Reilly, Perron, Sammy Blais and defensemen Faulk and Krug.
As a point of reference, here’s a partial look at individual players over the last 10 games — and the goals for and against while they’ve been on the ice at 5v5:
- Hoffman, 3-2
- Mackenzie MacEachern, 2-2
- Kyle Clifford, 2-3
- O’Reilly, 5-6
- Perron, 4-6
- Schenn, 3-6
- Kyrou, 4-7
- Sanford, 2-7
- Oskar Sundqvist, 1-6
- Jacob de la Rose, 1-4
- Blais, 0-4 (five games)
- Faulk, 7-7
- Krug, 8-10
- Dunn, 1-6
- Marco Scandella, 1-2 (four games)
- Robert Bortuzzo, 1-4 (eight games)
- Niko Mikkola, 0-2 (four games)
Before they went out with injuries, defensemen Colton Parayko (2-5) and Carl Gunnarsson (2-6) were on the negative side of the 5v5 scoreboard in goals for and against.
I’ve seen and heard some fans and media talk about the Blues’ present circumstances and point to the lesson of 2018-2019: slow start, last-place team on Jan. 1, handled adversity like champions, and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Hey, don’t worry! It’s all gonna be fine!
Well, Jordan Binnington came out of the deep depths of the minor-league system to rescue the Blues in goal in 2019. He’s already in place now. Big difference.
Berube, who replaced the fired Mike Yeo in Nov. 2018, did a masterful job of reshaping the Blues. But again … he’s already in place. He won’t be fired and replaced by another Craig Berube.
Because of the blitz of current injuries, the retirements of Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Steen, and the free-agent exits of Alex Pietrangelo and Pat Maroon, here’s the list of Blues players currently active with this years that remain from the 2019 Stanley Cup postseason roster:
Binnington, O’Reilly, Perron, Schenn, Sundqvist, Sanford, Blais, Dunn, Bortuzzo. That’s it. Nine guys. (Kyrou and MacEachern played in a combined 45 regular-season games for the Blues in 2018-2019 but did not see any postseason action.)
The Blues can’t look back.
They must look ahead.
Hope for a sooner-than-expected procession of returning, injured teammates … and in the meantime, do what they can to play better and lessen the trauma.
And get past the stones in their passway.
Check out Bernie’s 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 live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.