Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Blues started out great, winning their first two games against Toronto and Anaheim. But recently, they've squandered an opportunity at four easy points against an injury-depleted Colorado Avalanche team, and a down-and-out Tampa Bay Lightning squad. Saturday's game against Colorado was a perfect example of not taking advantage of a perfect situation. The Avs were without Ryan Smyth, Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, Marek Svatos, and Jose Theodore. They had to rely on backup goalie Peter Budaj to carry the load in net, and even though the Blues were able to put the puck behind Budaj four times, the overall lack of intensity and very poor defense let the Blues down in a 6-4 loss. The loss Tuesday night to Tampa Bay was caused in majority by, again, bad defensive plays. The puck did seem to be bouncing a lot, but it's no excuse for not being able to get the puck out of your own zone a number of times and it ending up in the back of the net on three different occasions because of it.
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Manny Legace didn't help his cause in either of these games, either. Out of the 11 goals allowed by Legace in the two games, eight of them were soft goals that Manny usually saves. If you were to ask him, he would tell you that himself, and admit fault on them and say he needs to play better to keep his team in the game. If Manny isn't the Manny we are used to seeing on a night-by-night basis, you can flush the Blues' chances of making the playoffs down the toilet.
The question everyone is asking right now in St. Louis is "What is wrong with the Blues?" How can this team comprised with loads of talent keep throwing away easy opportunities at gaining ground in a Western Conference that is separated by 10 points between the second place Nashville Predators and the last place Chicago Blackhawks? There's an easy answer to that question.....poor defense and constant inconsistency.
You don't have to look any further than the last two games to see what kind of defense the Blues have. With the exception of Erik Johnson and Bryce Salvador, everyone on defense has been put on notice by head coach Andy Murray...either play up to your potential or find yourself in the press box watching others play. People ask why this guy is being sat for that guy, or why is so-and-so not in the lineup. It's very simple....they're not playing at the caliber of an NHL defenseman. The NHL is an elite group of players. Only the best belong in this league. If you don't play like you belong, then you're gonna sit, while other guys look to earn their spot.
The last two games I have seen a lot of misplays by the same people talked about over and over again....
Barrett Jackman constantly was outmuscled on the boards and was pushed off the puck with what seemed like no effort from the opposition. He has looked sluggish, and made quite a few questionable passes. Not to mention, he had a couple of brilliant chances at shots from the point but whiffed both times. This is coming from a guy that has turned down not one, but two contract extensions from the Blues in recent months so he can test the free agent market at the end of the season and command around $4 million a season. Too bad a team isn't going to give him that type of money with the way he's played this season. If he wants to become the type of defenseman that earns that kind of money, he has to show it on the ice, which hasn't been seen yet this season.
Eric Brewer looked like a guy that was practically scared of the puck. He gave the puck away numerous times in his own zone, either by trying to take the puck up ice, making an ill-advised pass out of the zone, or being knocked off the puck by an opposing player. Don't ask him to play defense skating backwards, either, because he'll end up blowing a tire like a racecar on the third turn at the Indy 500. Brewer has so much talent, but it has yet to be shown with the Blues. He's a largely inconsistent defenseman, and seems uncoordinated with the puck at times. Problem is, you can't trade Brewer because of his large contract he signed with the Blues last offseason. No team is going to want to eat that money when picking him up in a trade.
I can't give a summary on Christian Backman because he hasn't played the last two games because of a cracked bone in his foot. However, he is another defenseman that has been very inconsistent in his play this year as well. He has been sat nu,erous times by Andy Murray, but it hasn't seemed to get through to him that he has to play better. Backman is expected to be back in the lineup sometime next week, so I don't expect this recent injury to affect his trade status.
Watching the expressions on the face of John Davidson while sitting in my seat at the game Tuesday, he's not a happy man. I looked up a couple of times during the game after goals were scored by Tampa Bay, and he looked thoroughly disgusted with his team's play. At times he furiously stormed out of my line of sight, throwing his hands in the air, before coming back to his seat a few minutes later. When JD isn't happy with the way his team is playing, he's gonna make something happen to try to right the ship. That's the way Davidson is. He's trying to prove to this city and these fans that "we want to win now". He realizes that we are still in the stages of a rebuilding process, and wants us fans to be patient. But, he also doesn't want the fans to go through another season in St. Louis without playoff hockey. He knows what kind of atmosphere hockey in late April into May can bring to the city. People that say JD is going to sit back and watch how this is all going to play out this season are dead wrong. Davidson is going to work his magic, and see what kind of talent he can get from other teams willing to become trade partners with him.
In talking to some people that have ties within the organization, I expect a move to be made sometime in the next 7-14 days.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride Blues fans....this is going to be a very interesting two weeks.
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