Going into this season may fans considered the Blues to be one of the top teams in the league. Right up there with the leagues best such as the Panthers, Flames, Avalance and Penguins. Things haven't quite worked out that way.
10 games into the season, the blues have racked up thier 3rd straight loss to the lost to the league leading hawks. Each loss coming by only 1 goal. In fact all 4 of the Blues losses this year come by 1 goal. As has been the case in many of thier games this year, the blues badly out played their opponent yet came away with the loss. The blues outshot the hawks 34-18 even though the hawks had a 7-3 PP advantage. So whats up with the blues? Why can't they win a game against a good team? Is it thier offense? Is it bad goaltending? Lets have a look at the stats to see if we can get a better picture.
Lets start by ignoring the blues .500 record and their 0-4 record against the top tier teams and see what their underlying statistics look like.
Sporting a .928 Save Percentage over 9 games you can't blame Martin Jones. He's one of the leagues best goalies so far sitting 5th in save percentage amongst goalies with at least 8 starts. In his lone appearance Scort Darling got a W so you can't blame him either.
The blues currently sit 2nd in shot differential to the sabres 5.8 vs 5.3, 3rd in the league in goals against, behind the hawks and Sabres, the penalty kill is a solid 4th just behind the Panthers, Penguins and Sabres.
Aside from the stanley cup defending champs who are battling a Stanley cup hangover the blues are in great company. The Hawks,Sabres and Panthers sit 1st, 3rd and 4th in the leagues standings while the blues are sitting 18th.
What exactly sets those teams apart from the blues? Let’s have a look at some other statistics to see if we can get some sort of explanation. We don't need to look any further then offense. The Panthers sit 1st on that list with a whopping 3.89 goals per game. The hawks and Sabres are both tied for 6th in the league with 3.36. The blues sit 16th in the league with a measly 2.70 GF/game.
Putting that all together it all comes down to goal differential. The elite teams can both defend and score. The panthers have a league leading 2.0 goal differential, the hawks have a 1.8 goal differential, and the sabres have a 1.63 goal differential. The Blues are sitting at a measly +.9 goal differential. A full 1.1 goals per game less than the Panthers.
So there you have it folks. It's not a mystery at all - although the blues can defend with the league’s best they aren't quite there when it comes to scoring. Although their shot differential suggests they are getting the chances but they just can't convert.
Our next article will take a more in-depth look at the Blues offensive struggles and who may or may not be underperforming.