It’s been a weird start to the new campaign for your St. Louis Blues.
I’m not being critical of any of the media coverage — honest — but I feel compelled to note this: when the writers and talkers are more upset than the team, that’s not a positive sign. When the writers and talkers are showing a more heightened sense of urgency than the players, that’s a little cuckoo.
The Blues are 3-2-1.
Going by the anger and frustration brewing in the press box or assorted writing-broadcasting safehouses, one may think that the Blues’ record is 3-21-1.
The hockey coverage is excellent.
The Blues, not so much.
The Blues are working to improve — but apparently need to work harder to become all that we think they should be.
But may I make a minor, polite and largely irrelevant suggestion?
Could we CALM THE HELL DOWN please? (Hey, I did say ‘Please,’ right?)
This does not apply to Coach Craig Berube. He hasn’t reached the point of — metaphorically speaking — biting off the heads of chickens. But Coach is biting off his post-game answers. As the Blues “compete level” decreases, The Chief’s “disgust level” increases.
After the Blues embarrassed themselves in Sunday night’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Kings, the post-game interrogation focused on the Blues’ faulty effort.
Berube said the lapses in effort are “caused by the attitude … the consistency is not there. Compete and work and all that, that’s attitude. That’s just all attitude.”
When asked to point to the reasons for the attitude problem, Berube went with the “I don’t know. You should ask the players,” comeback.
The Blues have faced three teams in their six games. They’ve had three sets of back-to-back contests with Colorado, San Jose and Los Angeles.
As you know, a pattern has emerged: The Real Blues have, for the most part, shown up for the first game. But in the second game of these back-to-back challenges, The Fake Blues have surfaced.
Or that’s the narrative, anyway.
Obviously, there is truth to be found in the mini-sample forensics.
In the first game of these two-pack sets, the Blues have six points.
In the second game of these sets, the Blues have come out with one point.
Using the most pertinent indicator, the 5 vs. 5 stats — because that’s how I roll — the Blues have been a two-faced bunch.
In the first of two games against opponents, they’ve scored 66.6 percent of the 5v5 goals … eight of 12. But in the instant-rematch second game, the Blues have scored only 21.4 percent of the 5v5 goals … only three of 14.
Then again, we’re talking about only three Game 2s … not 20.
And as a general principle. A short flow of effort is never acceptable. The human brain being what it is, I don’t know why a talent-stocked team would have the necessary hunger in Game 1 of a back-to-back, then come out with a mega-million lotto-winner’s attitude — HEY, I’m all set for life!” — for Game 2.
Or it could be that we’re exaggerating the severity of the problem. Again: only six games.
This is just one example, but: going by the metrics, the Blues were outplayed by the Kings at 5v5 in Game 1. Doesn’t matter. The Blues won, 4-2. But in the return bout, the Blues had the edge at 5v5 — based on expected goals for and against — but lost by three goals.
Sometimes you win a game that you probably deserve to lose.
Sometimes you lose when you probably deserve to win.
Through six games, the Blues are horrible on special teams, but we can expect that to level out.
At 5v5 the Blues look pretty good after six games. The most glaring issue is their 49.7 Corsi For percentage, which ranks 17th in the league. (Meaning that Blues’ opponents have launched more shot attempts, 50.3 percent, during games.) But most other 5v5 indicators are reasonably healthy:
Shots On Goal Percentage: The Blues are eighth in the league at 53%.
Goals For Percentage: 9th in the NHL, at 57.7%. .
Expected Goals For Percentage: 9th in the league at 53.6%.
Scoring Chances For Percentage: 4th in the league at 55.9%.
The Blues are just above average in high-danger chances,
They’re 24th in 5v5 save percentage, .924.
The special teams make everything else look worse.
The Blues have allowed 10 power play goals, most in the NHL. And only one PP goal of their own, which only adds to the woes. When your team’s power-play deficit is minus 9, you’ll be dragged down. That’s hard to overcome. But the Blues are only 10.7 percent into their schedule. And yes, a lot of guys have to play better. This applies to just about everyone of them, with a few exceptions.
It would be swell to see the boys take ownership of any flaws related to effort, attitude, hunger, urgency, grit, and “compete level.” Playing the next two games at Las Vegas sets up as a timely and revealing showcase for the Blues.
Should the Blues get their noses rubbed into it by former captain Alex Pietrangelo and his Golden Knights teammates, I may be interested in buying a ticket to attend the next virtual showing at “The Sky Is Falling” Theater. Maybe. I’ll get back to ya on that.
Thanks for reading…
Listen to Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday, 3-6 p.m. And on Friday from 4-6 p.m. Or listen online, and download The Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app 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.