Dallas Stars defenseman Mark Fistric (28) looks for a rebound off of St. Louis Blues goalie Ty Conklin (29) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) By Brandon Wade
St. Louis Blues right wing Brad Boyes (22) scores in the shootout against Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco (35) in an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009, in Dallas. The Blues won 4-3. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) By Brandon Wade
St. Louis Blues left wing Brad Winchester crashes into Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco on an attempted shot in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) By Brandon Wade
St. Louis Blues' TJ Oshie (74) and Detroit Red Wings' Brian Rafalski (28) battle for the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce) By Bill Boyce
After last season’s march to the NHL playoffs, and two overseas wins against the rival Red Wings to start the year, expectations were high for the St. Louis Blues. The ‘Note, however, have not delivered and have been as inconsistent as a talented hockey team possibly can be.
Since the Blues returned from Sweden, they are a very mediocre 9-10-5 and are in last place in their division. Much of the burden should fall on the shoulders of three high-priced forwards: Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes. The trio make $16.2 million - 31 percent of the team’s payroll - but so far this season, their production has not matched their high salaries.
Boyes has 15 points in 26 games played, McDonald has 14 points in his 24 games and Kariya has just 11 points in 26 games, including only 5 goals.
Fortunately for St. Louis, two young-guns, forward David Perron and defensemen Erik Johnson, have picked up a lot of the slack.
The Blues have been wildly inconsistent. They have won two games in a row just three times, and are yet to win three consecutive games. Check out their last five games, which were played in just eight days. On Nov. 25, the Blues took the Stars down in overtime shootouts in Dallas, followed by a road win two days later at Nashville. The Blues would then return to St. Louis to face the Red Wings the next night. The stage was set for a huge home win over Detroit and it looked like the Blues were ready to finally hit their stride.
The Blues controlled the game, but the Wings got a goal late in the third period to force overtime, before winning in shootouts. The heartbreaking loss cost the Blues a game that could have given them a three-game win-streak and a ton of momentum.
The Blues went on to lose their next game at Columbus two nights later, before getting a win in shootouts Thursday night at San Jose.
So in those five games, the Blues were 3-2, but two of those games were won in shootouts.
Boyes was decent during the 5 games, contributing 3 assists. McDonald had just 1 assist during the stretch and Kariya had 3 points, including a goal. The Blues simply need more production from these three. The time to get going is now. St. Louis simply has too much talent not to make the playoffs this season, and can’t afford to fall any further down in their division.
What makes their unimpressive start to the season hurt even more is the fact the Red Wings have also been struggling and are only 3 points ahead of the Blues. Though Detroit may still be suffering from losing the Stanley Cup and then forward Marian Hossa in the offseason, St. Louis would have loved to get off to a hot start before the sleeping giant awakes.
It is important to note, however, Kariya, McDonald and Boyes are not the only players letting their franchise and fans down.
Coming off a terrific rookie season, forward Patrik Berglund has just 3 goals in 22 games. He had 21 goals last year.
Another forward, David Backes, had a breakout season in 2008-09, scoring 31 goals. This season, he has just 4 goals in 26 games.
Defenseman Eric Brewer has managed a -8 in his 12 games. Captain Brewer is making $4.5 million this year and is the Blues fourth highest paid player behind – you guessed it - Kariya, McDonald and Boyes.
There have been bright spots outside of Johnson and Perron, as goaltender Chris Mason has been terrific and is surely St. Louis’ MVP thus far.
Nonetheless, the Blues have been a big disappointment. 70 percent of their season still remains, and for the Blues to make another push in the playoffs, they need some of their best players to start earning their salaries.