The St. Louis Blues have been bouncing back and fourth in the Western Conference so far this season. Not in standings, although they have made a habit of moving up and down quite a bit, but in overall play. Currently, they are sitting third in the Central Division, with 26 points. That puts them behind the Detroit Red Wings (28 points) and the team the entire league is chasing, the Chicago Blackhawks (45 points).
The Blues have gone 5-4-1 in their last ten games, and surprisingly they have 74 goals for and 73 against against. That’s a shocking statistic when you consider how unstable the team has been so far this season.
The Blues started out red-hot with rookie superstar Vladimir Tarasenko making a big splash in his NHL debut. However, that surge has slowed to a trickle now that Tarasenko is on injured reserve.
And he’s not alone.
Veterans Andy McDonald, Jamie Langenbrunner and Alexander Steen are all also on the IR. Steen was the team’s leading scorer before he went out of commission. Combine that with the fact that all four Blues on the injured list are on offense, and it’s amazing the Blues are finding ways to generate scoring chances. But they are.
Thanks largely to the Blues veterans that are still on the ice. David Perron, David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Barrett Jackman are a few of the big names that are able to produce on a nightly basis.
But their struggles, and redemptions on offense aren’t that big of a concern when looking at the overall picture of the Blues. What is more troubling is the goaltending situation in St. Louis.
After taking a rough bashing from the Los Angles Kings, the Blues netminders have had a target on their backs. In the game, the Blues had a 4-2 lead going into the second period before Jaroslav Halak let in four unanswered goals in the third period to give the Kings a 6-4 win. That loss dropped St. Louis to ninth in the Western Conference standings.
It’s no surprise to learn then, that the Blues front office was on the phone recalling Jake Allen from the American Hockey League’s Peoria Rivermen an hour after the game against the Kings ended.
Allen has had some experience and success at the NHL level and he should be able to find his footing just fine for the time being. The real question surrounds Halak, considered one of the top netminders of the league, and what the Blues are going to do or need to do to address this big hole. Brian Elliott has been solid so far this season for St. Louis so he shouldn’t be a big concern either. But Halak was the starter. Hopefully he can get through this rough patch, and come back later in the season stronger, and more confident, playing at the ability he’s capable of.
As far as new Blues, there are some additions. The Blues signed Joel Edmundson and Yannick Veilleux, each to three year deals. Both players had success in the minor leagues and with each standing over 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 lbs., they’ll take up some space on the ice.
A familiar name has been practicing with the Blues lately, in Jason Arnott. Arnott is an 18-year NHL veteran with 938 career points, who dressed in 72 games last season with the Blues. He tallied up 34 total points last year, though St. Louis chose not to re-sign him. He has since been a free-agent and now the Blues are seeing if he can fit into the roster again.