Blues hold the leverage over their budding young star — and GM Doug Arnstrong will use it.
The winger remains in a contract dispute with the club.
From management to the players, the microscope will be on the organization after recent playoff failures. Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford takes an up-close look.
Brian Elliott and Jake Allen will jostle for playing time in St. Louis. Similar scenarios could unfold with the Wild, Ducks and Sharks.
But fans heard this claim last season and saw the team suffer another early exit in the postseason.
It is no coincidence that the Blues are 3-0-0 since David Perron’s return to the ice last Thursday.
Perron, who has been out since November 4 of last season, skated with his team for the first time in just under a year last week. He has been recovering from a horrific concussion after being hit by San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton.
Perron took the ice Thursday in a private skating session before his teammates stepped on the ice in their routine practice time. The Canadian winger made the decision to stay on the ice with his teammates for about 15-20 minutes and skate in a drill with them. He actually scored after line-mate T.J. Oshie shot the puck and generated a rebound right to Perron’s stick.
"I made sure that I was shooting for a rebound, so [Perron] could slam it home," Oshie told Jeremy Rutherford of stltoday. "You could see when he threw it in the net, all the guys were screaming for him. It was pretty good. It's great to see him out there. It's a tough time for the team right now after our trip, but it put a little smile on our face seeing him out there with the boys."
Oshie mentioned the Blues’ road trip, which put the Blues up against the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. In these four games, the Blues mustered just one victory, tallying 2 points out of a possible 8. They were also out-scored 14-8, including a 5-0 blanking by the Kings.
Coming home never seemed so sweet.
Remember that horrid road trip? It was doom and gloom for many St. Louis Blues fans after their team went 1-3-0 on their first road trip of 2011-12. Even though it ended just under a week ago, it seems that there are only high spirits going around the organization.
Why shouldn’t Blues fans and team members be wearing their happy faces? David Perron is skating with his teammates for the first time since November 2010, David Backes seems like he may be fine after taking a crushing hit from Flyers’ defenseman Chris Pronger and Matt D’Agostini is tearing up the rink with goal after goal.
Lest we not forget that Brian Elliott is playing some amazing hockey between the pipes.
In a surprise move, Blues Head Coach Davis Payne started Elliott in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday. It turned out to be the right call as Elliott made 61 saves on a total 65 shots in both games, giving him a .938 save percentage for the weekend. Most importantly, Elliott backstopped the Blues to an even 4-4-0 record on the season.
Besides goaltending issues, the Blues’ blinding problem before this weekend was special team play. Going into Friday’s game against Carolina, the power-play was about as successful as Michael Jordan’s baseball career. They were ranked 29th, posting just 1 goal on 24 opportunities (4.2%). The Blues did register another power-play goal this weekend, putting them at 2-for-27 (7.4%). Even though that puts them at just 28th in the league, it is promising that this team did muster another goal with the extra man.
After six games played, the St. Louis Blues have posted a 2-4-0 record, placing them in 13th in the Western Conference standings. Many Blues fans have already hit the “panic button” and have sent the women and children into the lifeboats. Many of those fans are already pointing fingers at Jaroslav Halak for his sub-par goaltending efforts.
I’m here to tell those people that he is not the only one that deserves a finger pointed his way.
There are many other contributing factors to the Blues’ failing performance. There are four components of the Blues’ game, including goaltending, that have been the biggest reasons for the poor record.
4. Quality of Shots
Yes, the Blues have been outshooting their opponents. In fact, the Blues have averaged 7.2 more shots per game than their opponent. That can never be deemed a bad thing.
The problem has been the Blues’ unwillingness to get great shots. This may seem nitpicky but we see opposing teams working to get great scoring chances after cycling the puck around the Blues’ defense. The Blues then skate the puck down to the other end and take a few shots before losing control again. The quality of these shots have to improve.
October 13, 2011: St. Louis Blues (1-1-0) vs. Dallas Stars (2-1-0).
Tonight will be the début of the official LetsGoBlues.com in-game blog! Feel free to discuss the game here.
The game will start at 7:30 pm CDT and will be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Blues starting lineup
Andy McDonald - David Backes - Jamie Langenbrunner
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Alex Steen - Jason Arnott - Matt D'Agostini
Vladimir Sobotka - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves
Kent Huskins - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Nikita Nikitin - Roman Polak
Rule #1 of playing team sports: if one player is playing poorly, the rest of the team must elevate their play to make it unnoticeable.
It’s hard to do this when that teammate is the goaltender, but the Blues have to the best of their abilities.
Starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak has begun the season in a sub-par fashion. Halak has allowed just three goals in two games (not including Nashville’s empty-netter), but his save percentage is a measly .844.
His rebound control has been an enormous problem. Craig Smith made that obvious when he scored his first period goal Saturday night after Halak could not grab the rebound from an attainable Shea Weber shot. Halak laid on his stomach while Smith knocked it out of his reach and snapped it into the gaping net.
Halak allowed 3 goals on 15 Nashville shots in the 4-2 loss.
Time to panic?
Not yet. This team has rallied around Halak and given him the support to allow him to pick himself back up. Halak rebounded Monday afternoon against the Flames, earning his first victory of the season. He started off shaky in this game as well, allowing an early goal to Curtis Glencross of the Flames. The Calgary forward received the puck in the high slot and fired a wrist shot that seemed to deflect off of Blues forward Andy McDonald. Even though deflected, Halak had enough time to react to the shot but it still found its way through Halak’s legs to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.