Blues Struggle to Keep Pace in Central

The St. Louis Blues offense exploded against the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 8 and 9, scoring 11 goals combined in two wins. But they have failed to maintain the momentum in the games since. With a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday night, the Blues are now in fourth place in the Central Division and in the first wild-card position. The Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames are hot on their heels and with just over 20 games left to play the odds of making the playoffs are getting worse.

The Injury Bug Strikes the Blues Again

Robby Fabbri is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in September, Zach Sanford was just recently activated off the IR after a shoulder injury, and Jaden Schwartz has only been back in the lineup for a few weeks since he returned from an ankle injury. Unfortunately, the bug continues to bite as we can now add Joel Edmundson to the list of players who will, or have, missed significant time this year.

Joel Edmundson
Joel Edmundson (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Edmundson, who had equalled his career high of 15 points already this season, broke his right forearm while blocking a shot against the Avalanche. The injury required surgery, which went smoothly, and now Edmundson will miss at least six weeks.

The Blues recalled defensemen Chris Butler from the San Antonio Rampage to fill his spot but the loss will hurt down the stretch. Edmundson had provided quality minutes and quality play and with their streaky scoring, his defense was invaluable.

Blues Lose Three BIG Games

After back to back wins against the Avalanche and the Jets, a slip up against two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins wasn’t a big surprise. Emotions were high as Ryan Reaves made his first appearance against St. Louis since he was traded last June. They held the advantage in play for 40 minutes but sloppy defense in the third period was their ultimate downfall.

Alexander Steen
Alexander Steen, Austin Watson and Colton Sissons (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

The dagger in the heart was a bad loss to the Nashville Predators after leading 3-0 going into the third period. The Predators rallied back in the third to tie it at three and eventually won in overtime. Although the Blues were able to manage one point against their divisional foe, the blown lead was devastating to their momentum.

In Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars, the Blues didn’t show up. Losing 2-1 to the Stars, a team trailing them in the standings, exemplified the struggle that the Blues has been dealing with. A lack of emotion, pride, and team chemistry has been haunting this group since mid-November and their play has continued to frustrate fans.

Welcome to St. Louis

With the acquisition of Nikita Soshnikov from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2019 fourth round pick, the Blues are in a good position to continue adding depth to their roster. Soshnikov came at very little expense and his upside is high. In 19 games in the AHL for Toronto this season, he put up 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists).

Nikita Soshnikov, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs
Nikita Soshnikov as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

After the trade, it was reported that the Blues were in serious talks with the Ottawa Senators for Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard. A few names rumored to be shipped to Ottawa include Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Alexander Steen, and Dmitri Jaskin. Hoffman has offensive upside that can compliment Vladimir Tarasenko’s scoring prowess, and Brassard is a consistent point-scoring center who has put up 417 points in nearly 700 NHL games over 12 seasons. 

What this says to me, is that the front office doesn’t like the look of the rest of the Blues’ season. The offensive inconsistency is starting to kill their momentum. After 11 goals in two nights the Blues only put up five goals in the next three games. The defense is doing the best they can but with Edmundson lost for six weeks, the offense needs to relieve the pressure. 

The next week showcases games against the San Jose Sharks, the Jets and the Predators. These three games can go a long way, either way, to showing the fans and the team what the last quarter of the season is going to bring.