Under Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blues have been near unbeatable at home.
Playing in 15 home games since Hitchcock’s hiring, the Blues have mustered 26 out of a possible 30 points. This has catapulted the Blues to the top of the league for best home teams. With the win over the Coyotes Tuesday night, the Blues leapfrogged division rivals Chicago and Detroit to become the best home team in the NHL, posting an amazing 15-3-2 record when at Scottrade Center.
Add in that the Blues have a plus-25 goal-differential at home and it is easy to see why they are in playoff contention.
However, the road tells a different tale.
When the Blues are not at Scottrade Center, they have posted just 7 wins and 3 overtime losses in 19 games played (receiving just 17 out of a possible 38 points). These numbers currently place the Blues as the 9th-worst road team in the league.
Despite the imbalance between home and road games, the Blues find themselves in 5th place in the Western Conference with 49 points, just 3 points behind the conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues and Blackhawks have both played in 39 games.
So why is there still a legitimate concern for the Blues’ future?
As of Wednesday, the Blues have played in 20 home games and 19 road games. That is as even as it gets almost halfway through the season. Things will change in a hurry.
In January, the Blues will play 9 of their 11 games at Scottrade Center. While this will be good news for a team that is currently thriving at home, it means that many road games are to follow.
The Blues will finish the season playing 15 of their last 22 games on the road. This includes a season-long 7-game road trip that will keep the team away from St. Louis for a full two weeks in mid-March. On this trip, the Blues will battle the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes. The swing will start North, head as Southeast as the NHL goes, then all the way out West to battle the Pacific Division teams. The Blues are 3-3-0 when battling any of the aforementioned teams in their home buildings this season.
Ken Hitchcock has mostly had home games to coach his team. On the road, Hitchcock has posted just a 4-3-3 record, which includes shootout losses to Minnesota, Colorado and Nashville. It is always important to get at least 1 point in most games, but the extra point is being given to teams that the Blues may be battling for a playoff spot late in the season.
It will be imperative for the Blues to continue their strong play when they play on the road. If they cannot figure out a solid road formula before February, they may fall on hard times.
That is why it is equally important to rack up as many wins as possible in the next month. In the nine games at home in January, the Blues will battle teams such as the Vancouver Canucks (January 12), Minnesota Wild (January 14) and Dallas Stars (January 16). These will be vital games as all of these teams are solid playoff contenders that will likely be jockeying for position in the playoff picture all season long.
If this team can grow to be equally as sharp as on the road as they are at home, they will be a powerhouse in the West that has the potential to be playing hockey well in April.