Slow Starts – A Troubling Trend
The Blues sit 2-2 on the new season, following their impressive sweep of Detroit with lackluster performances against Atlanta and Los Angeles. As if the sports scene around St. Louis wasn’t depressing enough with the Cardinals Game 3 loss to Los Angeles, the Blues drop one at home the very same night against the same city. In their past two performances the Blues looked … off. The Blues carry with them an alarming trend through the first four games in this young season.
I was in attendance at the Scottrade Center Saturday night, and was unfortunately met with a Blues performance that was frankly confusing and quite frustrating.
What has every game this season had in common? The Blues have played extremely poorly in the first period and often times play poorly well into the second before awakening either late in the second or in the third period. These slow starts led to early deficits and the team being dominated in the early going. For example, last night the Kings kept the Blues confined to their own end of the rink for a huge majority of the period. The Blues only mustered three shots on net in the first period and appeared completely overwhelmed at times.
Not only are they being confined to their own end, when they do get the puck in the opponents’ end, the team quickly either forces a shot, loses possession, or tries to dump and chase then cycle the puck to the point with limited success.
The team looks slow out of the gates and appear to be skating in sand as the opponent cycles the puck throughout the Blues’ end of the ice. Often this leaves the (in this case) Kings’ defenders wide open to unleash a slapper on net. The Blues have been slow to chase, slow to close and are playing without any intensity in the early stages of their first four games.
Come midway through the second or even the third, the Blues bring their intensity and skate at a much higher clip and cut down on the negatives I just mentioned. However, such as last night, it is too late and the Blues force themselves into an awkward position.
Another mistake that is occurring far too often is the Blues seem to love keeping their stick off the ice. This has led to missed chances in front, whiffed shots, awkward passes and giveaways. This is hockey 101 basic stuff here and it needs to be corrected.
The Blues had a fantastic opportunity to start the year with a bang with two home games following two wins in Sweden, but they have been unable to overcome their slow starts. Hopefully the team can find and bring it’s intensity as they take to the road.