Behind the Numbers: 2010-11 Edition – Part 1

Behind the Numbers: 2010-11 Edition – Part 1

Chris Stewart

That’s a wrap. For better or worse, the St. Louis Blues 2010-11 season came to an end Saturday night. All right, realistically it came to an end a long time ago, but officially, the season concluded at home against the Nashville Predators. While “disappointing” could be used to cover the season as a blanket statement, there were plenty of positives, plenty of surprises and plenty of interesting statistics that are worthy of dissecting. Part one will feature the team’s splits at home and on the road, as well as an interesting look at their play after the All-Star Break.

Home vs. Road

During the 2009-10 season, the Blues were quite a force on the road, rattling off an impressive 22-14-5 record while playing very mediocre in front of the local crowd, going 18-18-5. The switch was flipped in 2010-11 and the Blues got the memo that they needed to play better hockey in front of paying customers. Unfortunately, there poor efforts took to the road.

Home: 23-13-5 (51 points)
Road: 15-20-6 (36 points)

Obviously, to win hockey games you need to score more goals than your opponent. With that thought in mind, the Blues needed to maintain a positive goal differential in order to take away needed “W”s.

At home, the team did a solid job of doing this by scoring 119 goals while allowing 102. The differential here is a modest +17, which may not sound like a lot, but it was enough to earn the squad 51 points at the Scottrade Center.

On the road, the Blues lit the lamp 117 times, which was good enough to have them ranked in the top-10 in road scoring. Unfortunately, the goaltending and defense apparently failed to make very many road trips as they allowed 126. The differential here is (-9), which is extremely disappointing given how well the Blues offense churned away from home, especially as the season wound down.

The All-Star Break

The All-Star Break is typically used as an indicator to determine how well a team performed in the early stages of the season compared to the final stretch run. Keep in mind the All-Star Break didn’t take place exactly at the season’s midway point, but it still works as an adequate divider to compare statistics.

Scoring
Before (49 games)
Goals: 127 (24th)

After (33 games)
Goals: 109 (1st)

Most of the credit for the Blues huge offensive surge in the second half of the year can be attributed to two key factors: 1) Various players recovering from injury and 2) The Erik Johnson trade.

The Erik Johnson & Jay McClement for Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart deal still will have to play out for several more years before a true winner of the deal can be named. However, in the short-term, it’s pretty tough to make a case against the Blues as the clear winners by securing a red-hot Chris Stewart (pictured above) and the potent Kevin Shattenkirk.

One can only imagine what the offense would have been like had injuries to key skaters stayed at bay and the year started with Shattenkirk and Stewart already in the Note.

Shooting Percentage
Before (49 games)
8.7%

After (33 games)
10.7%

Boy, there are just too many Brad Boyes jokes that could be used here. All joking aside, the fact Boyes and his natural instinct to fire a puck a foot wide left for Buffalo at the trade deadline, it really is no wonder the team saw a vast improvement in the amount of pucks they fired finding twine.

This number can also be attributed to numerous slow starts across the roster as a whole in the first half, but we’d still like to think it could be squarely as a result of dealing Boyes.

Special-Teams

Before (49 games)
Power play: 14.5%
Penalty kill: 80.1%

After (33 games)
Power play: 25.5%
Penalty kill: 84.7%

It’s hard not to attribute the power play’s sudden rise to success on the arrival of Stewart/Shattenkirk, but credit is also due to David Backes and several other skaters lifting their game late in the year. By the end of the year, it’s tough to make a case against the Blues having one of the better units in the league.

Nikita NikitinThe numbers behind the penalty kill are quite intriguing. The trade deadline saw the Blues deal Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson, two of their main defenseman. The deadline also saw the team’s best defensive forward in Jay McClement leave town. There also was an injury late in the year to Barret Jackman. This means the teams nearly 5% improvement on the penalty kill came from an almost entirely new group of skaters.

Most impressive might be the play of all the new defenseman that we saw in St. Louis for the first time in 2010-11. Obviously, Alex Pietrangelo made some appearances prior to last season, but last season marked his first full-time job. Pietrangelo may have been around all season long, but Kevin Shattenkirk, Nikita Nikitin (above) and Ian Cole all made loud splashes in their first year at the NHL level and made a huge impact once they arrived in St. Louis. These youngsters did what players with more years under their belt (Johnson/Brewer) could not, and helped shut down the oppositions power play.

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