The St. Louis Blues have not been achieving as expected in the 2013 season. Instead of contending for the Central Division and even the President’s Trophy, as many people imagined, the Blues are sitting in seventh in the Western Conference and third in the Central.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a column about the Blues' recent struggles. He talks about how they have not bought into coach Ken Hitchcock’s system and that the offense needs to be as it was earlier in the season. Essentially, he is hitting the panic button.
It is way too early to be hitting the panic button.
Hitchcock’s system was completely bought into last season and it led to arguably the best regular season in Blues history. This is basically the exact same team. The only difference was bringing in Vladimir Tarasenko and losing Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner. The missing piece? Leadership.
The Blues have had a loss of identity because they don’t have the experience and the lead by example leadership as they did last season. David Backes is more than a capable captain (frankly, one of the more underrated in the league), however, he does not have the same kind of veteran leadership guys like Langenbrunner and Arnott brought to the table.
They have been in the situation the team is in now before, and more importantly, they know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. The only two people who have rings are Andy McDonald and Hitchcock.
Secondly, the defense has been nowhere near as good as it was last season when the Blues allowed the least goals in the league. Now? They're 17th in the league in goals against average. In comparison, Chicago is third, Boston is fifth and Anaheim is eighth.
Teams are proving that in order to be successful and be a contender for the Stanley Cup, you need to have stellar goaltender, and the Blues have only seen flashes of greatness from their netminders.
The offense hasn’t been much better in recent games. The Blues have only scored 18 goals in the last eight games. Some fans are saying that if the team continues on its cold streak, players such as David Perron, Alex Steen or Patrik Berglund should be dealt. This would be completely detrimental for the development of the team.
Yes, the team has had scoring issues, but they are also capable of putting on an offensive show. Have people forgotten about the Blues' 5-1 start? The team is just collectively cold. What happens if the team gets collectively hot? They could be this year’s Los Angeles Kings.
Overall, people are forgetting that this season is a shortened one. Yes, there are 16 games left, but the team has only played 32. If the Blues were 17-13-2, sure people would not be happy. But there would be no talk of blowing up the roster, no questioning if Hitch can get the job done.
Being a Stanley Cup team does not happen overnight. Teams must fight through adversity to achieve greatness. It is a process that takes time. This Blues team is capable of achieving that greatness. So don’t just hit the panic button. The best is yet to come.