Road, Dismal Road
Remember last season, when the Blues were beaten in their own building time and time again, just to go on the road and cause havoc for opponents? It’s amazing how much can change in a year. This season the Blues have put together a pretty formidable 18-11-4 record at home, while sinking to a 10-17-5 record on the road. Their 10 wins away from home rank worst in the entire NHL.
2010-11 Season (so far)
The numbers above paint a pretty decent picture of just how different this season and last season have been. Local fans have been treated to some pretty entertaining games and have seen this team at its best, but the picture is much darker as soon as the club leaves the city.
Currently, the Blues tiny total of 10 wins on the road are the fewest of any team in the NHL. Fewer than last place Edmonton (11) and Ottawa (11).
By comparison, the best current record on the road belongs to Detroit and their 22-9-4 mark.
The differences aren’t just surface level – the story doesn’t start and stop with the Blues’ overall record. Currently, the Blues have skated in 33 games at home and 32 on the road, and while the split isn’t exactly 50-50, it’s close enough to make some comparisons.
Offense / Goals Scored
With more wins at home, you’d expect there to be more scoring there as well. You’d be right.
Through 33 games at the Scottrade, the Blues have scored 95 goals – a number that places them tied for 14th best in the league.
By comparison, the Blues have only mustered 79 goals on the road, ranking them 23rd.
That’s a difference of 16 tallies, with one additional home game being played. We knew scoring was more plentiful on home ice, as it is expected to be, but there are the numbers to support it.
Defense / Goals Allowed
Open opponents, open chances and plenty of pucks fired at the net – three signs you’re facing the St. Louis defense.
At home, the Blues have been average, but not awful, in clamping down on defense. They’ve allowed 86 goals at home – good for 17th best in the NHL.
On the road, the flood gates open. With one fewer game, 103 goals have been scored against the Blues in enemy territory. That number ranks in tied for 21st.
A term common in baseball when talking about how a batter hits left-handed versus right-handed pitching. The Blues have a decent split at home but have road numbers that pretty much sum up the season.
Goals Scored: 95
Goals Allowed: 86
Goals Scored: 79
Goals Allowed: 103
It isn’t like the Blues have a very good differential at home, but it is at least in the positive side of the spectrum. The road differential just shows that apparently the whole squad is suffering from some sort of mental block, or plays intimidated, away from the friendly Scottrade.
Unfortunately, the home/road split doesn’t end with five-on-five play.
Power-play Goals Scored: 24
Power-play Goals Against: 17
Power-play Goals Scored: 16
Power-play Goals Against: 26
The goals against category touches on the area of goaltending, but it’s important to see the exact divide in stats concerning the men between the pipes.
Home (25 games): 13-8-4, 2.22 GAA, .921 save percentage.
Away (18 games): 6-9-2, 3.27 GAA, .886 save percentage.
Home (7 games): 4-1-0, 2.99 GAA, .884 save percentage.
Away (14 games): 3-6-3, 3.16 GAA, .885 save percentage.
Home (3 games): 1-2-0, 4.42 GAA, .851 save percentage.
Away (3 games): 1-2-0, 2.02 GAA, .926 save percentage.
As you can see, Halak has been a completely different goaltender on the road this year, which in my opinion, is the most troubling number in this entire article.
Conklin has been a bit worse on the road but the numbers are pretty level. Bishop has actually been much better away from the Scottrade Center, but the sample size is fairly small.
While this section might be labeled conclusion, unfortunately, this article can’t really answer the big looming question: Why are the Blues a different team on the road?
We’d expect the Blues to be better at home – that’s common sense. However, the road splits on goals and special-teams is pretty alarming. Most alarming of all, why has Jaroslav Halak been so bad on the road this season? The Blues paid him to be their number one, which brings about the responsibility of being a difference-maker in big road games – something he has failed to do so far.
Are these mental mistakes, produced by a young and fairly inexperienced team? Possible, but I’m not about to make a blanket statement like that over this whole roster. I’d also hope that guys that have been on the squad for three or more seasons should be pretty used to what comes with playing on the road.
All speculation aside, the Blues need to take their ferocious attitude and road record from 2009-10 and combine it with the excitement we have seen from them at home in 2010-11. Until they become a balanced team that can compete and secure points each and every night, regardless of location, this team will constantly be on the outside of the playoff picture.