Blasted at Home – Again
Ouch. Last night’s game against Colorado was hard on the eyes – especially in person. Things started off entertaining enough with action on both ends of the ice. The first period saw each team have solid chances in front of the net but without finding the twine. And then Barrett Jackman was sent off for hooking (one of only two penalties called this entire game) with just under two minutes to play. The normally resilient penalty kill allowed Colorado to light the lamp with 11 seconds to go in the period. Not only was this yet another instance of the Blues failing to close out a period (Dal, Det, LA anyone?) but it sent this game on a downward spiral that caused many fans to leave well before the final horn.
Oh, did I mention last night was Star Wars night? Aside from Storm Troopers greeting fans at the entrance, a Star Wars look-a-like on the Jumbotron and Louie Blues the mascot turning into Darth Louie, this was a home game just like most of the other home games this season – one that saw the Blues dominated in their own arena.
The goal at the end of the first period seemed to knock the Blues completely off their game and send them into some weird, lackadaisical state of mind. Gone was any confidence or determination. Gone was basic hockey sense which led to awful passing especially through the neutral zone. Gone was the ability to get aim as the Blues fired shot after shot wide and high.
The end result was a 4-0 humiliation at home. Again the Blues fall in front of their home fans. As if having the worst record at home in the NHL wasn’t bad enough, it is the method the Blues lost last night that was so frustrating. It boggles the mind how a team can look so completely uninspired to play hockey 28 games into the season.
Losing to a side like Colorado is understandable – The Avs are now second in the Western Conference and leading their Northwest division. It is how the Blues lost that is ridiculous, frustrating and inexcusable for a professional side with this much talent.
The Blues had 35 shots last night. In many of their losses, they actually led in the shot department and usually put well over 30 on goal in a given night. When 0 of those 35 light the lamp, and most of your losses feature plenty of shots but few goals, obviously you are doing something wrong.
Here is what I would change right off the bat:
- Get more traffic in front. The Avs created several chances by screening Chris Mason and making life tough for him in his crease. When the Blues were on the attack, too often Budaj found himself a clear lane to see the shot and stop it with relative ease. Put some bodies in front, battle for every inch, and make life difficult for the netminder.
- Get shots on net. The Blues had 35 stopped by Budaj last night, but many of the best chances the Blues fired well wide, high or were blocked.
- Embrace the one-timer. Erik Johnson: You have a cannon. Don’t allow the goaltender and defense to set up for your shot. Launch the sucker!
- Don’t be too fancy. Keep it simple. Get traffic, throw pucks at the net, pounce on the rebound and bury it.
The Blues need to start winning at home and fast. Their road record (7-2-3) is impressive but it is meaningless if you can’t secure points on your home ice. The playoff picture is getting smaller and smaller and unless the Blues make some changes and get their act together, they will be on the outside looking in.