The St. Louis Blues are preparing for the upcoming NHL regular season that is merely weeks away. St. Louis hasn’t been in action since their elimination from the postseason by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals and the team is looking for different results this season.
In order for that to happen, though, the Blues will have to have consistent contributions from throughout the lineup. Scoring is becoming increasingly important in today’s NHL because games are often so close, making the pressure on forwards immense.
Forwards on the Blues are some of the most notable players on the team, but St. Louis was middle of the pack in goals for last season. While that isn’t too much of a concern considering they ended the regular season second in the Central Division, it does leave room for improvement.
St. Louis has been on the cusp of greatness for a few seasons now but just hasn’t been able to get the job done in the playoffs. That’s been the root of their frustration and is something the team would like to correct in coach Ken Hitchcock’s last season with the team. Hitchcock has been behind the bench for the Blues since 2011 but announced a few months ago that 2016-17 will be his last in the role as head coach.
If the Blues can alter their system to incorporate the defense more in the offensive zone, they could see a drastic change in their offensive production. More than that, a slightly more offensive-minded St. Louis Blues team would confuse the opposition because of their tendency to play defense-first.
Power Play Goals
Although their overall scoring is middle of the league, the Blues were the sixth best team in power-play goals last season. They scored 21.5% of the time with a man advantage, which undoubtedly helped them end the season with 107 points.
The power play is successful for the Blues because they have one more attacker and therefore don’t have to be as worried about defense. Collectively, the power play is evidence that the team can focus on scoring while also staying true to the defensive mindset that Hitchcock knows and loves.
If St. Louis could translate their power play strategies into even strength play, they could be a more successful team offensively.
Vladimir Tarasenko will continue to be the Blues’ number one scorer, but the team will need to see more depth scoring if they want to truly be an offensive threat.
Despite altering their mindset and having a more offensive focus, the Blues will most likely remain the same. The defense-first philosophy has allowed them to make the playoffs for the last few seasons and it seems unlikely that they would risk that.
On the other hand, Hitchcock’s last season as a head coach may prompt him to challenge his previous philosophies of hockey. He might want to see exactly what it is the St. Louis Blues are capable of and push them to the limit.
Nonetheless, with the season starting in less than a month Blues fans are in for a treat.