Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blues pull out a win in the shootout.

Taking a 2-1 decision from the Isles with goals by Oshie and Boyes in the shootout, and a regulation goal by Patrik Berglund, the Blues are now five games over .500 and 7-3-0 in their last 10. This leapfrogs them over Dallas and puts them into the 10th spot, but they're still 4 behind 8th place Detroit (as of this typing).

The Blues are getting what they were missing at the beginning of the year - increased production from those players that everyone expected strong things from. Oshie, Backes, Berglund (on a 6 game point streak), and Johnson are ratcheting up their quality of play, and as the season is getting closer to the wire, Chris Mason's save percentage keeps going up, and his GAA keeps inching down. He seems to thrive in the high pressure hotseat. As the beard gets longer toward the end of the season, the Blues apparently pile up the wins.

There is the question of where the Blues would be if either a coaching change had been made about a month and a half earlier, or if they hadn't tuned out Andy Murray to begin with. It's frustrating to look at the first half of the season and see such mediocre play from people who were wedged into a doghouse. Berglund is having a mini-renaissance and is stepping up to the point production level that he maintained all of last season, presumably because he is not playing scared.

Frankly, the best surprise for me is Brad Boyes' +/-. He's a +3 so far this season, which is amazing since he was a -20 last year. That's the biggest turn-around for a player with a simultaneous goal output slide I've ever seen. People harp on him for not being able to find the net, myself included. But if him becoming more responsible prevents more goals than he would have scored, then doesn't it even out?

It's going to be rough - the Blues have to go 12-5-0 to have higher than a 50% chance to make the playoffs. If they were in the Eastern Conference, they'd be golden. How frustrating, and even more so knowing this ability was present all season long, but just not utilized.


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