If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I enjoy Tweeting various notes and stats both during and after St. Louis Blues games. Now that Frozen Notes has an improved look and perhaps more importantly an improved functionality, it's time to bring those notes and stats over to the site. You'll still find my usual ramblings on Twitter, but this will allow me to expand on some of those thoughts and for you to join in the conversation beyond 140 characters.
Don't worry - I'll try to keep things light. An abundance of stats can make one's head spin.
The Blues dropped an important game to the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-2 on Sunday night. Despite playing a pretty solid game and generating numerous chances, the Blues ended up on the wrong side of the result. Here's a quick look at some of the numbers and stats from the team's recent loss.
The Blues outshot Calgary 38-17. This included a second period where the Blues fired 19 shots to Calgary's 4.
The power play remains powerless. Sorry, bad pun, but it's true. Against Calgary the Blues went 0-for-4, bringing their total from the past three games to 0-for-9. Stepping back a bit further, in their last eight games the Blues are 3-for-26 on the power play (11.5%).
Despite missing eight games with an injury, Alexander Steen leads the team with 83 shots. In second is David Backes with 65.
Over a foot of snow fell at my house on Sunday. While you will find a snowman in my backyard, I didn't get quite as creative as these Blues fans.
I've complained about the delay of game penalty in the past, but the fact a team can earn a power play when an opposing player unintentionally bats a shot away from his net is absurd. Treat the current delay of game penalty rules as an icing, no more and move on.
David Backes was masterful in the faceoff circle against Calgary. He went 17-for-25, leading the team by winning 68% of his draws. Backes may not be scoring goals (OK, he's really not scoring goals), but he is still checking effectively and contributing in other areas of the ice.
Jaroslav Halak stopped just 14 of the 17 shots he faced. That's an ugly .824 save percentage. It's a bit unfair to blame Halak completely as Calgary had a few chances right outside his crease thanks to some lapses in judgment by the defensemen and forwards playing in front of him. Still, STLToday believes he was mostly to blame and states he missed an opportunity to reclaim his job. It's a fair argument but perhaps a harsh one.
The Blues and new episodes of The Walking Dead should never play at the same time. Let's go ahead and make it a rule. It's a lose-lose situation for a fan of both.
The Blues were 4-6-2 in February. Currently they are 7-5-0 in March. This mediocrity has sunk the Blues to 7th in the West as they struggle to separate themselves from the huge pack of playoff contenders in the conference.
Two teams immediately behind the Blues - San Jose (9th) and Dallas (8th) - have traded NHL players to the Penguins in exchange for picks and/or a prospect. With Brenden Morrow leaving Dallas and Douglass Murray leaving San Jose, one has to wonder if both clubs are starting to wave the white flag in 2013. It's a strange move considering how crowded the West is. At the very least, seeing both clubs which are nipping at the Blues' heels giving up players for picks is a positive sign.
@FrozenNotes Looks good. And it's even not the same-old game recap that can be found elsewhere. Glad to say I lobbied for it.
Kiprusoff very clearly stole this game for the Flames. While there's plenty of defensive blame to go around on the Blues part, both for skaters and Halak in goal, Kipper was flashing the glove at everything in sight. It gave me bad flashbacks of the past couple of years of Rinne, which is not something I really expected to think when the name Miikka Kiprusoff came up.
Backes simply cannot buy a goal. It seems like more than his fair share are being blocked by sticks or legs or backchecking before he gets a lot of shots away this year, too. Not that I'm expecting 30 goals a year to be his regular performance, though he's done it twice already, but at the moment, he's on pace for a whopping 8... over a normal 82 game season. For the current season, he's pacing out to 4 or 5.
Discipline, in the form of taking fewer penalties, especially in the offensive zone... *sigh* I feel like I've been harping on this for years. Because I have.
Am I the only one who's seeing that, as the boys have rounded into form and gotten back to playing fuller Hitchcock-style games, the defense and PK has improved, and the power play has declined? Maybe correlation is not causation here, but it looks suspicious to me.
When a goalie's save percentage is sub-.900, it's fair to goat him a bit. That said, even though the Blues are keeping the number of shots down, I'd be willing to bet that the relative quality of chances against the goalies this year is up. All the turnovers on failed zone clears alone would account for a substantial rise in that number, to say nothing of how much more effective the stretch pass has been against the defense this year. And all that said, Allen is still making that "big save when it's needed" that Halak and Elliott haven't really managed this year.
I'm not particularly worried about the Blues chances to at least make the playoffs this season, yet. If a couple of the teams behind them get on a hot run for a couple of weeks, though, the whole playoff picture could get sticky in a hurry. If I had to guess, I'd say Dallas is even-keel enough to do it, and Nashville is due for a hot stretch and/or Rinne stealing them a handful of games. Still, if the Blues could get the offensive and defensive cylinders firing at the same time, they could make themselves a very scary opponent on either side of a 4/5 matchup in round one.
@GeoffUpchurch Tried to go for a quick-hitting piece with some facts, opinions and off beat stuff. Graphic took the longest, ha.
@miendiem Backes might be one of the biggest casualties of the lockout. While others were practicing or skating abroad, he was lobbying pretty hard with the NHLPA. Add that in to the fact he's traditionally a slow starter, it's been pretty ugly.
@David Rogers I was trying not to remind myself of that bit from the middle sentence. Particularly since I don't believe that sacrificing those three-plus months actually solved anything for the league or the players.