At the end of October, Jori Lehtera compared the Blues’ offensive struggles to Italian soccer – really good defense but extremely low scoring. It seemed too early to panic at the time, but now that more games have passed and the team is in the middle of their busy November schedule, it might be time to worry about the anemic offense.
Through 15 games, the Blues have scored just 33 goals. That boils down to an average of just 2.20 per game which is 27th in the NHL. If you remove the five-goal explosion against a tired and bad Avalanche club, the numbers are even more troubling.
What’s going on?
Let’s start with shots. The Blues are currently 20th in the NHL with an average of 29.1 shots per game. That number would be significantly higher, but the team has missed the goal on 176 shot attempts (6th in the NHL). Some of that is the team pressing and some of that is just plain bad luck. The Blues’ shooting percentage is 7.55% and should rebound some as the season wears on. The team has hit the post 15 times, leading the league by a significant margin (four teams have hit the post nine times).
If even half of the shots which hit the post went in, things wouldn’t seem quite so dire. Instead of sitting near the bottom of the league in goals scored, the Blues could be in the top third if some of those posts went in.
The Blues still need to work on actually hitting the net with their shot attempts. A total of 145 attempts have missed wide (9th in the NHL). Anecdotally, several of those misses wide were on high-quality chances with plenty of open real estate in the net. Whether it’s due to bad luck, the team pressing or some other factor, the Blues have to be more accurate.
So, what about the David Backes and Troy Brouwer factor? To date there isn’t enough statistical evidence to draw any sort of firm conclusion, but the Blues could definitely benefit from more traffic in front of the net. Without Backes or Brouwer, the Blues are lacking any big bodies screening the opposing goalie. Instead of throwing pucks on goal and hoping for the goalie to be screened or hoping for a tip, the Blues may be trying to be a bit too perfect with their shots because of the lack of traffic which is resulting in a lot of efforts missing wide.
There’s plenty of time for the Blues to buck the current trend and make this article seem like a distant, obsolete memory, but for now things are getting a bit worrisome.