The Blues are in a strange spot.
After returning from a three-game Canadian road trip last week, the Note has enjoyed home ice for four straight games. With just one more contest at Scottrade Center remaining before the Blues head back out on the road (L.A. Kings come to town Friday), there’s really no simple way to summarize the state of the team over the past week.
If you had tickets for, say, the Edmonton game last Tuesday or the Saturday tilt against Minnesota, you probably had a great time. The Blues were humming like a well-oiled machine in those games, scoring eight and six goals, respectively, winning both by a comfortable margin.
However, if you attended Friday’s game against the Predators, or most recently, Wednesday’s against the Ducks… well, hopefully the nachos were good.
The visiting Ducks cooked the Blues’ goose 3-2 Wednesday, handing St. Louis its second loss of the home stand, and spurring some concern about the team’s consistency.
“We’re not consistently hard enough to play against at home,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “It seems like we do it for a game and then we kind of back off for a game. Whether it’s just we come to the rink with the assumption that the result is going to go our way, I’m not sure.”
For much of the game, it was as though a switch was flipped from Friday’s effort. Though they lost Wednesday by just one goal, the Blues didn’t get on the board until late in the third period, where Kyle Brodziak scored twice. After a lackluster performance through the opening two periods, it was too little, too late.
“It’s 3-0. In the third period we started pressing a little bit, but three goals in the third period is not easy to come by,” Alex Pietrangelo said.
Why was Wednesday such a different story? Look no further than the Blues’ performance in special teams. In their previous game, the Blues scored three power plays goals and one shorthanded. Wednesday, special teams were a nightmare.
“I don’t think we got to our game at all tonight,” Alexander Steen said. “We lost the special teams battle, and we didn’t play the way that we had played previously.”
Like in the game overall, shots on goal on the power play weren’t really the issue. Despite their chances, the Blues never found pay dirt on any of their four power plays. Meanwhile, they give up two goals on the penalty kill, allowing special teams to seal their fate for the evening.
“We’re not being aggressive as a four-man unit as we have in the past,” Brodziak said of the Blues’ troubles on the penalty kill. “When you get scored on, it’s tough not to do it, but maybe we’re being a little hesitant and second-guessing a bit. Power plays now are too good to be doing that against, they’re going to find a way to beat you.”
Yeo expressed frustration regarding the penalty kill after the game, bluntly acknowledging that it needs improvement. The Blues are fifth worst in the NHL in percentage of penalties killed this season at 75.9%.
“They’re going to score some goals,” Yeo said. “But if they’re going to score, I want to make sure we’re going down swinging. Too many times, I think we make it easy on them.”
With the Blues maintaining their status atop the Central division standings, a couple clunkers on one home stand shouldn’t be cause for too much alarm, even as the team’s befuddling lack of consistency continues. Still, Yeo and company understand that for this team to achieve its goals, complacency has to be eradicated from its mindset.
“We earned the position that we’re in,” Yeo said. “We’re in a good spot, but we have to remember that we earned it. And to keep the position that we’re in, or to better it, we’re going to have to earn that, too. Right now, we’re a little bit too inconsistent, and we’ll have to fix that.”