Returning Home After Securing Payne’s First Win
Davis Payne earned his first win as a coach against the Kings this weekend and now returns home for a three-game stint at the Scottrade Center. Up next on the schedule is Columbus on Tuesday, Minnesota on Thursday before the New York Rangers come to town on Saturday. There are no easy games in the NHL, but these are three teams that have had plenty of issues of their own this season and can be beaten. The home has been extremely unfriendly to the Blues this season, but the team has an opportunity to improve on their 6-14-3 record starting Tuesday night.
The win against LA snapped a seven-game slide for the Blues, but though it was a step in the right direction, this team still has a long way to come to being a fully competitive squad. The third period in LA still made all fans to hold their breath as the Kings stormed back with two third period goals to close the game to one. The Blues held on, but it brought back memories of the many games blown late by our favorite club.
Still, a win is a win and boy did the Note need one. The two points give them 43 on the season through 44 games, and places them 14th in the Western Conference. The LA Kings hold the final playoff spot with 53 points, and five teams (DET, DAL, MIN, ANH, COL) separate the Blues from their ultimate goal. The picture looks pretty grim, but there is still hope.
The team has given us a lot of things to be optimistic about in their four games under Davis Payne. The Chicago game we will toss out as Payne took control literally the morning of the matchup. Let’s look at the other three games.
1-2 OT Loss @ San Jose
One of the best teams in the league this season, San Jose has really been held in check by St. Louis. While the Blues didn’t get the result they hoped for, they limited this highly offensive team to just one goal in regulation before falling in OT. A much improved and hard fought effort.
2-4 Loss @ Anaheim
The overall effort wasn’t as complete as we saw in San Jose, but even so the Blues put themselves in a position to secure points late in the game. With things tied at two goals per side, a controversial no call on an obvious knee-to-knee interference play led to the Blues’ demise in Anaheim. Can’t say the performance here was a good one, but at the very least the Blues showed they can “take a night off” and still be in good shape to make it to OT. The no call was a tough one to swallow, but such is the world of professional sports.
4-3 Win @ Los Angeles
Blues escape with a 4-3 win over LA despite nearly collapsing in the third period. The third period has plagued the squad this season and it nearly did again as the Kings scored two late goals but were unable to level the affair. The brightest aspect was the Note’s play when they held their 4-1 lead. Under the Andy Murray regime, more often than not the Blues would resort to a much more protective scheme – one that was ruled by sitting back and letting the opponent dictate the pace. Protecting the lead is one thing, but in modern hockey you can not just sit back and get ran over. This time, with a 4-1 lead, Payne had his team still fighting for scoring opportunities and looking to light the lamp a fifth time. As the saying goes – “Best defense is a good offense”.
There you have it: Four games under Payne, and three performances we can find a lot of positives in despite the record reading 1-1-1. The next test for Payne is getting results at home to appease some of the fans who still may have yet to see a “W” with their ticket packages.