The 2016-17 St. Louis Blues have almost too many problems to list. Because of the sheer volume of issues and topics, some problems have slipped under the radar. Such has been the case of Alexander Steen and his declining scoring.
Steen has five goals on the season and is currently on pace for approximately 10 goals before the year concludes. On the surface, that’s pretty bad, but it’s worse when you factor in that three of Steen’s five goals have been empty-netters.
Now, before ragging on Steen too much, it is worth noting that he has 20 assists on the year and his projected point total should be close to the one he finished with in 2015-16 (52) if he maintains his current pace. His overall offensive production has been there, but with the Blues struggling to find any consistent scoring, Steen’s scoring decline is a notable problem even with his assist total.
2013-14: 33 goals in 68 games
2014-15: 24 goals in 74 games
2015-16: 17 goals in 67 games
2016-17: 5 goals in 37 games
Factoring in those three empty-netters, Steen is a shadow of his old goal-scoring self.
What’s driving the decline? There’s a couple key factors which partially explain the power outage.
For starters, Steen’s shooting percentage from his 33-goal 2013-14 was above average at 15.6%. Since then, he had a 10.8% in 2014-15, 9.9% in 2015-16 and currently has an even 10% this year. The league average over the past four seasons has held steady at right around 8.9%, meaning Steen has been close to the league average over the past couple seasons but his 15.6% mark in 2013-14 was a bit of an anomaly. Expecting him to maintain that rate beyond 2013-14 was unrealistic.
Meanwhile, though Steen’s shooting percentage has been steady for the past two and a half seasons, he’s shooting less often. He averaged 3.01 shots per game in 2014-15, 2.56 per game in 2015-16 and he’s currently averaging 1.35 shots per game this season.
That’s where things get hazy. He has missed wide on a good number of shot attempts (20) relative to his number of shots which were on target (50), but given his shot total isn’t exactly huge, it’s kind of a small sample to base anything on.
The eye test has shown that Steen might be trying to do a bit too much – something most Blues are guilty of. He’s passing up shooting opportunities – again, something most Blues are guilty of. There have been games where the Blues have been stifled offensively and it has played a role in Steen’s struggles. That being said, it looks like Steen is thinking pass when he previously found success thinking shot. Instead of just trying to put the puck on goal, he’s looking for that perfect opportunity.
As long as the Blues win and find the back of the net, no one will care if Steen’s scoring ways of old continue to dry up. But, whenever the Blues are struggling, Steen’s transition from goal-scorer to set-up man will remain a concern.
Steen, like many players, can start working on his problem right away by doing one simple thing – shoot the puck more often.