The Blues Review
The Blues Bottom Line: A 4-3 loss to Arizona at Enterprise Center on Thursday night. The defeat ended the team’s four-game winning streak, and the smudge put their season record at 7-3-1.
The “Reverse Retro” Uniforms: Hideous. Appalling. Bozo the Clown would be embarrassed to wear such clothing. The look was blindingly bad. In fairness, I guess it’s appropriate that the Blues wore the garish red sweaters. If you’re gonna look like the Detroit Red Wings, then you might as well play like the Red Wings — who are 2-7-2 this season and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. Tom Stillman has many strengths as the Blues’ chairman but he needs a new fashion consultant for his team.
Why the Blues Lost: They were drowsy in the first 20 minutes, ambivalent about competing, and the Coyotes jumped on the red-clad sleepwalking home team for a 2-0 lead. The Blues played better in the second period, but so what … after 60 minutes the Blues trailed 3-0 and had to do the late-third period Heimlich to make the final score appear to be respectable.
Stat Of the Game: Arizona had 14 of the 17 high-danger scoring chances at 5 on 5. One team attacked the net and got into the so-called dirty areas. The other team watched and snacked on popcorn.
Damning Words: “It does have to come from each individual and I believe there’s a bunch of individuals in there that do compete and work and are ready to play, but we have too many that aren’t,” coach Craig Berube said. “If that’s the case, you’re going to have a tough time winning. That’s the bottom line.”
Let’s Be Honest Here: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko is off to a bad start. Maybe he’s playing hurt. Maybe he’s banged up. And if that’s the case, then maybe he should take a rest. But as long as he’s out there, he’ll be judged on performance. Parayko has played 206 minutes at 5v5 so far. And while the Blues have outscored opponents 9-8 when Parayko is out there at 5v5, that isn’t an accurate reflection of his play. The Blues have been outshot 116-98 and are running a 10-shot deficit in scoring chances. This adds up to 7.02 expected goals for, and 8.31 expected goals against.
Of the 86 NHL defensemen that have played at least 100 minutes at 5v5 this season, Parayko ranks 82nd with a 43.6 Corsi For percentage. Since the start of last season Parayko has a below-average Corsi (48.3%) with a minus 6 at even strength. But let’s all keep picking on defenseman Vince Dunn and obsessing over his flaws, OK? No need to evaluate Parayko’s play … right? In Thursday’s defeat the Blues were outscored 2-0 with Parayko in action at 5v5.
Robert Thomas: He hasn’t been very good since the season-opening win at Colorado, and ended up at minus 3 in Thursday’s loss to Arizona. We know his specialty is supposed to be playmaking, and setting up teammates for goals. But this is peculiar: Thomas has four shots on goal in 155 minutes this season … and at 5v5, Thomas has ONE shot on goal in 126 minutes.
Fourth Line Is Sagging: This season the combination of Ivan Barbashev, Oskar Sundqvist and Kyle Clifford has played 63:43 at 5v5. It hasn’t been working very well, with a poor Corsi percentage of 35.3%. They’ve faced some tough matchups, yes. But that’s usually the duty of a fourth-line threesome.
Another Mystery: The Blues are 0-for-9 on the power play in their last two games and rank 2i8th among the 31 teams with an 11.1% success rate this season. Someone help me out here, please. The Blues went to the trouble of coaxing productive scorer Mike Hoffman to come here on a one-year contract.
Over his past two seasons, with Florida, Hoffman ranked 5th in the NHL with 28 power play goals. In his 10 games with the Blues this season Hoffman ranks sixth among the team’s forwards with just over 20 minutes of power-play time … and there are 152 NHL forwards with more PP time than Hoffman so far.
And Hoffman is being deployed on the Blues’ second power play unit. Not the top unit … the second. Huh? I could see it if the first group is clicking. But we know the deal; the Blues have been awful on the power play.
Hoffman is one of the best PP snipers in the league. He’s heating up: three goals, two assists and a +5 in his last four games. I respect Coach Berube, but this makes little sense.
What We Liked Last Night: Yeah it was a loss but some good things happened. Hoffman scored twice and clearly is finding his rhythm with his new team. He had nine shots on goal Thursday and has 13 in his last two games … David Perron played 23:35, was a +3, had two assists, and six shots on goal … in his last four games defenseman Torey Krug has four assists and is a +7 … O’Reilly had a goal and was a +3 in this one; in his last seven games the Irishman has eight points and is a +5 … Brayden Schenn always keeps busy; he had six shots on goal and has 14 shots on net in his last three games.
Next Up: After more Covid-related disruption the reconfigured NHL schedule has the Blues and Coyotes playing two more games at Enterprise: Saturday at 2 p.m. and Monday night at 7.
Thanks for reading…
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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.