Adding Arnott could be key to Blues second-half run -

Adding Arnott could be key to Blues second-half run

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By Dan Mueller By Dan Mueller

(HockeyStL) -- It’s hard to believe that the St. Louis Blues have played almost half of their schedule already. It’s also hard to believe the team, almost identical from last season, has underperformed this season.

When Jamie Langenbrunner went down with a hip injury, there went missing a key veteran presence. The addition of another veteran, Wade Redden, hasn’t been quite what the team needed and he has seen his playing time diminish greatly.

Here enters Jason Arnott, who signed with the New York Rangers but failed a physical in January.

Now 38 years old, Arnott was key in his only season played with the Blues. He registered 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 72 games played in 2011-12. Those numbers aren’t what the team needs now.

Although general manager Doug Armstrong has been scouting potential trade partners in recent weeks, a move to sign Arnott might be what the team needs to make a strong run at clinching a playoff spot.

The Blues are no longer the young promising team. The team will not catch opponents off-guard in the same way it did last season. The window of opportunity is ticking away.

The main problem for the Blues seems to be individualists. Those are the players who try to make moves around two defenders rather than dump the puck deep. The same players who turn the puck over in unforgiven areas of the ice. The ones who play like they would rather score than have a positive plus-minus.

Arnott is not one of these players. He earned every goal scored in his career, a work ethic a few members of this current Blues team could learn from.

Will Arnott play every game? No, but the Blues don’t need him to. If signed, Arnott will be expected to bring a certain presence to the ice at each practice and game. He’s a lead-by-example type of guy. The type of player this team could use.

The signing wouldn’t be a blockbuster, but there isn’t too much to lose if the Blues and Arnott do come to terms on a deal. The Blues will get a hungry player at the end of his career showing he wants to play. The younger plays might then see that they shouldn’t take this opportunity they have for granted.

It’s been frustrating at times to watch this team play. Where are the attitudes, the grit, the aggression from last season?

The lockout happened. We get it. Other teams have managed to work around it. Does that mean this team deserves a free pass from any criticism?

Longtime hockey fans in St. Louis will tell you one thing: the Blues have always been built on a blue-collar work ethic. That means the team isn’t afraid to take hits, dive in front of a shot or go hard into the corners.

Sadly, playing defense has become optional it seems.

The Blues have allowed the 5th most goals in the Western Conference this season. Last year, the team allowed the fewest in the NHL. What does that tell you? Sometimes it’s better to defend your net before you try to dazzle your way for a goal.

I’m not sure if this team would call themselves blue-collar. They have a blue-collar game plan, but lack execution. Maybe the game plan is just noise to these guys and accountability is non-existent.

After games the same thing is said over-and-over-and-over: “we got to play a full 60 minutes,” or “we didn’t go into the hard areas tonight,” or “we let our foot off the gas pedal,” or “we can’t take playing at home for granted.” You get the point, but I’m not sure the team does. Actions speak louder than words.

It’s always being said, but nothing is being done about it. A few players here or there take action, but it’s useless if the rest can’t get on board. The time is now for these guys. They have the elements in place to make a deep run in the playoffs. The only thing lacking might be the will to conform.

It’s not a lost season. Time is just ticking away.

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