Grading the 2011-12 Blues
The “Grading the 2011-12 Blues” series continues today with our sixth player – Alex Steen. As with other players on the roster, injuries derailed Steen’s season making this evaluation pretty difficult. Was his quick start to 2011-12 enough to make us look beyond his struggles at the end of the year? Find out below.
Previous Grading the Blues Articles
Prior to 2011-12
Alex Steen entered the 2011-12 campaign with plenty of optimism. He was coming off a 2010-11 that saw him yet again score 20 goals as well as set a new career-high in points with 51. Steen was a constant contributor and excelled in the intangible areas of the ice. During a disappointing 2010-11 season, Steen was one of the usual bright spots, constantly moving his legs and pressuring the opponent. At the time, Steen was the team’s forecheck. He was the only player fans felt was truly giving it his all each time he took the ice.
For Steen, 2011-12 was a tale of two seasons – the one before his concussion and the one after.
Things started out extremely well for Steen. He notched nine points in 11 games in the year’s opening month. He added eight points in 13 games in November. At the time, it appeared Steen might challenge the 51-point plateau he reached in 2010-11 and be one of the team’s most threatening weapons.
Unfortunately, a nasty concussion cut Steen’s season short. He was sidelined between December 27th and March 25th as he battled with post-concussion syndrome. It was unclear whether or not he would return to finish out 2011-12 and, if he did, what form he might be in.
Steen was able to return to play in the team’s final seven regular season games but he was unable to recapture the form he had at the start of the year. He looked a step slower than what we were used to seeing. Did his concussion have lingering effects he was trying to hide? It’s a possibility. Regardless, Steen returned as a shadow of the player we saw at the start of the year.
Final numbers: 15 goals and 13 assists (28 points) with a +24.
Regular season grade: B
Summarized: It’s truly a shame Steen suffered an injury that cost him so much time. He was one of the best forwards in the lineup through the year’s first three months. Not only was he producing offense at a steady clip, he was providing constant pressure, assisting in hemming the opposition into their own zone. You can tell just how good Steen was by his very impressive plus/minus rating of +24.
Steen earns a “B” for his tremendous play prior to his injury. Unfortunately, a higher grade can’t be awarded due to the fact he did miss so much time and the fact he looked lost on the ice upon returning.
Unfortunately, Steen’s poor form at the end of the regular season carried into the playoffs. He was able to find some offense in the first round against San Jose (one goal, two assists) but was held completely in check by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round.
While he did add some offense, Steen’s overall play left a lot to be desired. He understandably looked like a player working through a lot of rust. He looked noticeably slower and looked like he was struggling to find open space on the ice. It’s tough to determine whether Steen’s play in the second round was injury related or related to LA’s dominant form.
Final numbers: 9 games – 1 goal, 2 assists (3 points) with a -2 rating.
Playoff grade: B-
Summarized: Steen’s playoff grade was difficult to determine. He likely was playing through plenty of rust and some potential lingering effects from his injury but the fact of the matter was that he was in the lineup and was expected to perform at 100% capacity. He did fairly well, all things considered, but he too often looked a bit slow, a bit lost and a bit behind the overall flow of the game.
The conclusion of the 2011-12 season marked the halfway point in Steen’s four-year, $13.45 million contract. It’s critical that Steen is able to maintain a clean bill of health in the second to last year of his current contract as to avoid any serious questions over whether he is a liability moving forward.
The Blues would greatly benefit from having a healthy, fit Steen in their ranks. Hopefully, he is able to recoup and recover over the summer and return in 2012-13 with the same focus, determination and success that we saw at the start of 2011-12.