Bouwmeester is a major improvement on the backend. The issue with the Blues, however, is exactly what kept being said last night and it is an issue with the forwards playing defense. Way too often, the wingers, especially, stand still and wait to react to what an opponent does when the opponent is in the Blues end. The Backes and Berglund lines, in particular, were guilty of this many, many times. The reasons the Boats and 4th line actually looked better - they did not give the Hawks time and space. They skated at the guy with the puck, not giving him time (except for that late goal by the Hawks), and the other forwards would - to borrow a soccer term - mark their opponents and be in position to make plays on the puck before it gets passed. Too many times, MacDonald and Steen got caught standing still, watching the Hawks pass the puck around, and only skating towards the puck after a pass. They put zero pressure on the Hawks in the Blues end of the ice. It's like they seem to expect the defenseman and center to make all the plays in the defensive zone, so Steen/MacDonald can get the eventual breakout. Problem is there is no breakout without the wings being aggressive on the puck on defense.
A real good example of being aggressive on the puck was Tarasenko's 2nd or 3rd shift, when he steals the puck inside the Blues blueline on the RW boards and gets it up ice. Boats and Perron get the puck near the Hawks net, then Tarasenko - who was the 2nd to last guy up the ice, because he started the play, winds up stealing the puck from 2 Hawks directly in front of the net, getting a shot, and then winding up behind the net with the puck.
The eventual move of Schwartz to the Backes line should have happened the moment Oshie went on IR. Schwartz plays like Oshie and that showed in the game after that switch was made. Only issue now, really, is Steen not being aggressive enough on defense. We all saw what Schwartz kept doing, not letting the Hawks make plays and actually creating turnovers, instead of waiting for them.
Leopold did not impress me much. With all of the time Polak spent in the box, he still only had 16 minutes of ice time. His point play, if he is going to be on the #2 power play, needs to improve dramatically. This is two games in a row where he simply could not keep the puck in the zone on the PP.
Last comments - Free Tarasenko and Schwartz in OT. With the way they are playing at both ends and Taransenko's creativity, they should both get OT opportunities, instead of David Hold the Puck and a currently struggling to handle the puck at all, Steen. I don't think either Schwartz or Tarasenko has played one shift in OT. I was terrified when Stewart and Steen were on the same shift in OT, and Stewart almost completely screwed that up. He was standing in an offensive zone corner, with no one near him, while Steen was one-on-one with a Hawks player behind the net. Get in a friggin' scoring position Stewart - which is not an offensive zone corner with no one near you in OT. Had Steen not won that battle, it's a 3-on-2 the other way, because Stewart is nowhere positive for that situation.
Maybe now that the D has been addressed, more and more people will see how Andy Mac, Steener, and DP's complete lack of presence in the defensive end is killing us. Stewie has been equally as bad, but I cut him a little slack because at least he's producing.
Backes has been back in his zone, but he's been highly reactive instead of proactive as well...the difference is that it seems to stem more for uncertainty and over-thinking then it does lack of interest as it appears with those named above.
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