The Central Division is one of the most talented and difficult in hockey. It has some of the most successful teams from the last decade or so, while also featuring incredible speed and grit. The St. Louis Blues currently sit second in division standings with 34 points and a 15-7-4 record.
That is only good enough for second place, though, as St. Louis sits three points behind the Chicago Blackhawks. Being that home ice in the postseason can be make or break, the Blues will need to evaluate their play closely to find success. While their season overall has been impressive, there is one issue the team could greatly improve upon.
Best: Consistency at Home
St. Louis has found a consistency level at home this season that has been severely lacking in previous years. They have an impressive 12-1-3 record at Scottrade Center, which is the best in the Western Conference and second best in the league overall.
More than their great play at home, however, is how they win. It is not always a one-goal matchup that comes down to the final minute. The Blues have found themselves in higher scoring games, which is definitely not what they are most comfortable with, but the team has still managed to earn points.
Goaltending has been another key to their consistency this season. Jake Allen surely benefits from St. Louis’ impressive defense, but he contributes to the team on his own as well. No. 34 has 13 wins on the season in 20 games and a 2.44 goals-against average.
That kind of play in the Gateway City is exactly what the Blues will need if they wish to continue to win on home ice.
Worst: Road Games
Contrasted to their excellent play at home has been struggles on the road for the Blues. St. Louis has a 3-6-1 road record thus far this season, which is well below .500.
Playing away from home has added difficulties. Players are away from family, the travel can be exhausting and the crowds are rooting for the opposition. However, St. Louis’ stark contrast between their 25 points earned at home compared to a mere seven on the road shows that there is room for improvement.
The Blues have played significantly more games at home thus far this season than on the road. While that has certainly been advantageous for the club, it means that there will be long stretches of road-heavy games coming up.
To finish out the 2016 leg of the season, the Blues will have six away games and five home games. Then as the season winds down, St. Louis will spend 10 of their 15 games in March away from Scottrade Center. Considering their results from the first 10 road games of the season, it is imperative that the Blues turn it around before they become stagnant due to road losses.
The final stretch of the season is an opportunity to build momentum moving into the playoffs and if the Blues are struggling to play well during that time, it could be very costly.
St. Louis’ consistency at home has been a great benefit to this club; however, their lack of ability to win consistently on the road thus far is a concern, especially considering the amount of time on the road in the months ahead.
The Blues will have to find a way to bring their Scottrade Center energy with them on the road in order to continue to earn points and hopefully pass the Hawks for the Central Division lead. They will have their first shot at a step in the right direction on the road tomorrow night as they begin a back-to-back against the New York Islanders, followed by a visit to New Jersey on Friday.