Blog: Is the Blues’ slump over?

Blog: Is the Blues’ slump over?

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Blog: Is the Blues’ slump over?

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by Scott Bierman / HockeyStL

KMOV.com

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 13 at 11:30 PM

(HockeyStL) -- The Blues (7-5-1) have won a game for the first time this month. It took six attempts to achieve the feat, but it’s finally happened -- Blues hockey is back.

Or is it?

The Blues played as ugly as it gets in the previous five games before Wednesday. Name anything, minus the power play, and it went horrible after starting 6-1-0.

So does a 4-3 overtime win against the Red Wings in Detroit right the ship for the Blues?

Obviously, we will have to wait and see, but the signs are pointing in the right direction that the stormy seas are getting more calm for St. Louis.

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The shaky goaltending has improved over the last two games. Brian Elliott was an early scapegoat in the five-game skid, but rebounded to make several impressive saves in a 4-1 loss to the Kings Monday. Likewise, Jake Allen made impressive work against Detroit Wednesday. His stat line looked mediocre in the 4-3 win, but a failing defense cost him at least one goal.

It’s safe to assume the goaltending is on the rebound.

The defense is now the biggest question for the Blues. Last season, the team took pride in itself on defense after allowing only 165 goals. It’s been atrocious lately, including early in the win on Wednesday. A mishap by Alex Pietrangelo allowed Tomas Tatar to score at the top of the crease with fancy puck-handling and then T.J. Oshie misplayed Drew Miller along the boards which resulted in a give-and-go goal. The latter play wasn’t as much on the defense as the first goal, but Oshie’s initial offensive-minded move cost the Blues a goal early.

The team wasn’t playing “defense first” in the first period Wednesday. It did improve greatly over the next two periods and overtime. The Blues allowed seven shots in that span, including one shot in the third period and overtime each.

After a sluggish start to the season, the Red Wings have rebounded in its four games leading up to Wednesday. Detroit posted a 3-1-0 record during that time after starting 4-3-1. The team’s power play was 4-for-16 in the previous four and the penalty kill greatly improved for the Red Wings.

The Blues didn’t care. The team went on to score a shorthanded goal and add a power play goal in two attempts. The Blues also held the Red Wings to one power play shot in FOUR man-advantages.

The Blues team that we saw at the Scottrade Center last week was not in Detroit. That’s a great sign.

The team played more like a team Wednesday than it has at any point this entire month. They weren’t afraid to make contact with an opposing player or the puck. As a result, the Blues outhit the Red Wings 33-to-18 and blocked 24 shots (Detroit had only 13).

As mentioned before, the Blues appear ready to turn the corner after the recent dismal play. There were major signs of improvement for the team in the 4-3 overtime win against Detroit.

Now the team will carry much-needed momentum into Calgary for the game Friday. After that it is on to face the Canucks in Vancouver and the Sharks at home.

We will learn a lot about this team in the coming days.

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