Reality Check – Blues Lose 8-1

Reality Check
Blues Lose 8-1

COLUMBUS,OH - NOVEMBER 10: Jan Hejda  of the Columbus Blue Jackets pushes his hand against the face of David Backes  of the St. Louis Blues during the third period on November 10, 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated St. Louis 8-1. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

All good things come to an end. With the Blues, their win streak came to a screeching halt thanks to a 8-1 thrashing at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. For a stretch, everything went right for the Blues despite major concerns in regards to scoring, the power-play and injuries. The wins piled up and the casual fan might have thought this team could do no wrong. This game is the perfect example of not only things the team needs to work on, but how fortunate the Blues have been.

This one was ugly. Very ugly.

The type of loss you want to pretend never happened as you turn the game off before the second period ends. This loss should at least put things in perspective. Now before you read on, let me say this: As someone that covers the Blues and follows them from a pretty close angle, I don’t want anyone to think I’m bashing them or jumping off any wagon. I’m as big a Blues fan as they come. However, today before the big loss, I mentioned on Twitter that the season is very young and fans should avoid jumping to conclusions. Below are my reasons of concern and reasons as to why Blues fans shouldn’t be surprised by this loss (though maybe the eight goals were a bit much).

It’s a Very Long Season As many of you know, I’m on Twitter. A lot. Part for work, part for fun, but the long and short of it is that I see and interact with a variety of Blues fans nearly all day, everyday.  That being said, I’ve lost track of all the praise, complements and expectations this team has received just 13 games in. Most of these are deserved based on the red hot start this team had out of the gate, but for fans to message me saying that the Blues must be a Stanley Cup contender based on their start is a bit much. Thirteen games gives us a look inside what to expect but they don’t paint a clear enough picture for any analyst to get an accurate read. My honest opinion? This team has the capacity to be good. Very good even. However, there are glaring weaknesses that teams can and will exploit unless they are patched, and injuries will be a major concern all season long.

Offense One of my Twitter followers summed it up perfectly. PCYX stated in regards to the Blues offense, that players are getting injured as often as goals are being scored. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Until the 8-1 blowouts, the Blues had been fortunate to receive goals from some pretty unlikely places and at some pretty timely moments. Matt D’Agostini was lighting the lamp, Jay McClement chipped in a hat trick and even Valdimir Sobotka scored a very timely goal against his old team. Right places, right time.

Production from these places is awesome and something I am not complaining about. However, these goals shouldn’t be the lone source. David Perron was the catalyst of the offense prior to his injury and was providing that spark that really opened the game up. However, other guys such as Boyes, Backes and McDonald have got to remember how to bury the puck in the net or this could be a very ugly season. The goaltending will have its off nights. The defense will have mental lapses. This team can not count on a shutout each night in order to win.

COLUMBUS,OH - NOVEMBER 10: Alex Pietrangelo  of the St. Louis Blues helps teammate T.J. Oshie  of the St. Louis Blues leave the ice after he was injured during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 10, 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated St. Louis 8-1. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Injuries
There is just no stopping the injuries.  Someone add T.J. Oshie to the growing list. With what appears to be a broken ankle, Oshie is the latest Blue to find himself on the sidelines. Add in Polak, Jackman, Carlo, Perron, Winchester and probably several banged up players that have injuries that won’t require extended absences, the Blues are throwing out a patchwork lineup each night.

To be honest, I’m surprised this type of blow out took so long to occur and didn’t happen once all the new faces arrived.

The offense now will miss Oshie and his ability to set up goals (he has 9 assists and 10 points this year) which immediately places even more pressure on Boyes and company.

Final Word on the Blowout
It was going to happen. All good things come to an end. Some nights just aren’t your night. I’m sure I could use a few more sports cliches, but I’ll spare anyone who read this far the migraine.

Jaroslav Halak and Ty Conklin were incredible through the first 12 games – a bad game was going to happen. The defense was destined to start allowing opportunities and the bad bounces were going to start showing up.

The world is a law of average and the Blues were playing well above what a team in the NHL should be doing with so many injuries and so many goal-scoring droughts.

The Blues don’t have to wait long to prove they are capable of overcoming a defeat such as the one the Blue Jackets dished out. Thursday night they take on Nashville back at home and hopefully some of the key members of this club will step up to fill the void left by the injured.

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