From time to time this season there are lulls in between games for the Blues. It seems like a long bridge between Saturday’s disappointing defeat and Thursday’s chance for redemption. This blog has already broken down the good, bad and so-so as well as hold a poll to see which Blue has dissappointed you, which means all that is left before Thursday is to talk some goaltending.
If you read my entry the other day, Thoughts After Four Games, you’ll know that I ranked the performances between the pipes as “meh” thus far. The team’s largest issue thus far is the slow and lackadazical start they have deployed in the first period of their first four games. While plenty of blame goes on the skaters, an equal amount is on the goaltenders to ensure the Blues don’t get behind early forcing the team to climb out of a hole they dug early.
Stats After Four:
Chris Mason: 1-2-0, 2.70 GAA (.900 SV%)
Ty Conklin: 1-0-0, 3.00 GAA (.910 SV%)
Average is the perfect word for the goaltending in St. Louis currently. While we have seen moments of brilliance (Mason has definitely robbed a few that should have struck the twine), we have also witnessed sloppy play, including by the men between the pipes.
This “average” illustration is completed when you examine the team’s goaltending rankings in the NHL. The Blues rank 19th in the NHL in average goals against per game (3.00). More importantly and relating back to the slow start piece, the Blues are tied for second worst in goals allowed in the first twenty minutes, allowing 7. This is an alarming comparison to say the number of goals the team has allowed in the third period (1).
Some may raise the point that the defense is at fault and the goalies suffer the consequences. In some cases, yes, but overall the defense has done a pretty good job. They have limited the number of shots Mason and Conklin have seen, and rank 11th in the NHL allowing just 28.8 shots per game. It certainly is nice seeing this number below 30, and it shows that the defense is at least getting in front of shots and keeping the puck away from the net.
So with that, what lies ahead? It is clear that the goalies, though spectacular at times, suffer the same slow start the rest of the team does and that is a trend that just must end.
The Blues take to the road for their next three, and hopefully will buck the slow start trend on Thursday. Chris Mason will likely receive the nod Thursday, and since the games are evenly spaced (15th, 17th, 20th), it is possible Conklin may not see any action until either the 23rd or 24th when the Blues have back-to-back games.
One thing is clear: With Anaheim and Pittsburgh right around the corner, the Blues need to get their act together if they hope to come away with a winning road trip, and that includes the boys in net.