(HockeyStL) -- The Blues are currently in the midst of their best season since the lockout. Teams have struggled to solve the Blues all year, and as a result, the Blues find themselves looking toward the playoffs instead of toward the offseason. But one particular Blues’ weakness could end up ruining their terrific season. The Blues have found it difficult to beat teams in their own division all year, and this is a flaw capable of putting an end to the Blues’ spectacular season.
It’s safe to say the Blues will be in the playoffs, but unless they figure out how to beat the teams in their division, they will have a very difficult time advancing farther than the first round.
As it stands right now, four of the five Central Division teams are destined for playoff berths. Detroit currently sits atop both the Western Conference and Division standings, and their skill level is unmatched by any other Western Conference team. If they keep pace, the Blues will likely finish fourth or fifth in the conference which means they will likely play a divisional adversary in the first round. No matter how the Blues finish off the regular season, it will become necessary to figure out how to beat the other Central Division teams.
The Blues have struggled all season when facing divisional opponents and their 5-8-2 record displays it. Four of their five divisional wins have come at home where the Blues have excelled, but it’s a different story when they hit the road as evidenced by their 1-6-1 record against those same opponents.
Central Division foes have outscored the Blues 19-9 on the road. When dissecting the numbers even further it’s discovered that the Blues are only averaging 1.13 goals per game. This is obviously not good enough, no matter how good the Blues’ goaltending is.
Alex Steen’s injury has contributed heavily to these statistics. Steen was without a doubt the Blues best player on the road. Since his concussion no one has stepped up to fill the void he left. In the eight road games before his concussion Steen helped lead the Blues to a 4-2-2 record. Alex Steen has 7 of his 13 goals on the road, and the impact that he makes is something that is nearly impossible to replace. With that being said, it doesn’t help that the Blues have top players not producing.
Needless to say, the Blues will have to find a way to start “putting the biscuit into the basket” because scoring only one goal against the strong teams of the Central Division will not result in many wins. Existing players are going to have to step up and start producing, and the Blues are going to have to figure out why they are having trouble closing out games. The Blues must play Ken Hitchcock’s desired “200 foot game” every night.
The Blues don’t have the elite players that some teams possess, and must have a complete team effort to win games. When the Blues have a couple of players not giving it their all, it reflects in the team’s play, especially on the road. The Central Division is tough and the success of the Blues depends majorly on how they fare in their own division. Excuses will no longer be accepted. It’s time for the players to step up and get the job done on the road.