More Mediocrity, More Trades Likely
After yet another disappointing loss, this time a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues have officially reached the breaking point. As if it wasn’t bad enough to drop another winnable game, the Blues had to do it against two former skaters in Jay McClement and Erik Johnson. When Erik Johnson wasn’t too busy referring to himself in the third person, he was scoring an ultimately costly goal, sinking any hopes the Blues had for a postseason. Fans brace yourself – more trades likely lay ahead.
It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to the two deals last week, the Blues carried over nearly an identical roster to the one they rolled out in 2009-10, minus Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya.
Last year, the Blues finished in 9th place, five points removed from eighth with 90 points. This year, the Blues have 63 points over the course of 59 games. That means that the Blues have 23 games left to secure 27 points just to finish at the same place they did last year. Considering that the team is so far averaging just over one point per game, they are currently set up to finish with nearly an identical point total.
Unfortunately, the Western Conference has only become more competitive and will see the Blues on the outside looking in come playoff time given their current play. Expectations this year were that this team would take another step forward, but despite the massive acquisition of Jaroslav Halak, it’s just more of the same.
Just like the fans, the management of this organization is fed up with what they are seeing. Barring the miraculous 2008-09 playoff run that ended in the first round, the Blues have had pretty similar looking finishes dating back to 2005-06, with the 2005-06 season being a glaring exception and a complete implosion.
2005-06: 57 points
2006-07: 81 points
2007-08: 79 points
2008-09: 92 points (Lost in first round)
2009-10: 90 points
2010-11: To be determined
Let’s step outside the St. Louis area for a second and look at this from an outsider’s point of view. Dating back to the lockout in 2004-05, the Blues have made the playoffs once in six seasons - assuming they don’t pull another miracle this season. In 2008-09 when they did crack the top-8, it was viewed as a mighty achievement and a cause for great celebration. In a lot of ways it was – more so in how the Blues pulled it out rather than the actual achievement, but still a feat worth celebrating.
Then again, did we make too much out of it? Half of the teams that start out each NHL season make the playoffs. Prior to the lockout, the Blues made the playoffs 25 years in a row between 1979-80 and 2003-04. Did we put too much emphasis just on the fact this club made the playoffs, only to get completely dominated and swept out by the Vancouver Canucks four games to none?
The Western Conference is tougher than (arguably) ever before and the Blues have not made any major signs of improving over the course of the last several years – playoff year included. The years, as wholes, have been just like this one – mediocre.
Finally, there comes a breaking point.
Cue the major trades we saw last week. It shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization deals their captain and a major part of their core (Johnson) when the results have been stale, stagnant and not improving.
This loss all but cements the fact the Blues will finish outside the top-8 again this season. Prior to their loss to the Avalanche, the Blues had a pretty modest 14.4% chance to make the playoffs as calculated by SportsClubStats.com. That number will obviously drop following tonight’s failure to secure two valuable points.
With another disappointing year set to make the books, I’m glad that this time the Blues aren’t just accepting the result. The management is being active and rightfully so. The current group does need some more time to grow, but the parts that are complementing TJ Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and a few select others could use a face-lift.
The deadline looms roughly a week down the road. After each additional loss, the question is quickly turning into WHO will be dealt and not WILL the Blues deal again.
Who do you think will be the next to go?
I’ve made my thoughts on a few possibilities in some of the other articles I posted this week, but with each loss, fewer players should be feeling safe right about now.