EDIT: I answered some questions for Jeff too. Check them out here
The Wings are hosting the Blues at the Joe tonight and the Wings are looking to bounce back from the terrible loss to the Kings on Monday. The Blues are always tough to play for the Wings and have given them a lot of trouble over the last few years. To give us an update on the Blues' season and what to expect from them tonight Jeff Quirin, founder of the great Blues blog bluenotezone.com and Blues writer for NHL Hot Stove and Hockey Independent, was nice enough to answer my questions about the Blues and provide some great answers. Here they are:
1. The Blues had a great start this year, but seem to have collapsed slightly and now find themselves in the bottom part of the conference. What's gone wrong?
Jeff: In one word, injures. The Blues have been without David Perron, TJ Oshie and Roman Polak for longer than a month with a return not in the near future. All a bit frustrating in St. Louis as they push in to triple digits of man games lost to injury. With Andy McDonald added to the ever growing list the Blues are down an entire scoring line. Any team missing three primary scoring threats is going to have it's share of struggles.
2. Do you see the Blues turning this around, getting back to winning and making the playoffs? What needs to be done for this to happen?
Jeff: If they are going to happen, we'll know by the end of December. The Blues play 10 of 14 at Scottrade with 11 total in the month against Western Conference clubs. They're off to a good start. Taking points in four of five games to date. Going 2-1-2 in that stretch. Mainly due to a resurgent Halak and a smarter work ethic. Too often in the pair of five game losing streaks they skated at 100 mph and were caught over thinking.
To make it not only do they need a little luck in getting Perron and McDonald back from concussions sooner rather than later, but tight even strength play with special teams as the counter balance must occur as well. When that formula is applied on the ice, they win games like they did against Vancouver and Columbus. When the special teams disappear, that's when they will slide as they did against Washington and Carolina.
There have been comparison's made to the 2008-09 squad that made the playoffs despite bloated man games lost to injury figures. This group is in a better position to stay in striking distance till a deal can be made for scoring help or injured players return.
3. The Blues have a much better home record than road record, what's been going wrong on the road?
Jeff: Preventing pucks from ending up in their own net has been the major concern. The penalty kill has been very out of charecter on the road. Killing penalties at just a 78.6% clip. The PK is run by Brad Shaw and his system has consistently produced results. However the loss of Mike Weaver to free agency and the absence of Polak seems to be hindering the units effectiveness. The Halak/Conklin tandem has also struggled away from St. Louis. The pair has allowed 51 goals against in just 15 away games. An average of 3.4/game.
Keep in mind, these numbers were greatly influenced by the high point of the injury epidemic in November.
October: 9 Goals Against in 4 Road Games, 2.25 GA/A.
November: 38 Goals Against in 9 Road Games, 4.22 GA/A.
December: 4 Goals Agaisnt in 2 Road Games, 2.00 GA/A.
4. The Blues have lost several players to injury this season, which player has been missed the most?
Jeff: TJ Oshie. Much like Alex Steen, Oshie does everything. Offense, defense, all special teams situations. Bringing energy through tireless effort. Without his creativity in the offensive zone (as well as Perron's) there has been a decline in high percentage scoring chances. The forwards have struggled greatly to get pucks off the perimeter and in to the dirty areas. His puck pursuit and forechcecking abilities are also missed. As evident by the inconsistent forward pressure since he went out.
5. What do you fear about the Wings in this game and what should the Wings fear from the Blues?
Jeff: There seems to be two ways to beat Detroit. Either possess the puck more than they do or make the game play as choppy as possible.
If the Blues fear anything, it's the skill and experience level of Detroit possessing the puck all night. Which takes away the Blues physical game of chipping pucks behind the aging Wings defense and pounding them below the red line. Which is where Red Wings fear should be.
6. Finally, a division game deserves a heated atmosphere, so tell us how you feel about the Wings!
Jeff: I have an interesting history with the Wings. I grew up with much family bred venom for the evil empire. The more I've learned about hockey, the less venom I've had. It also helps that I've become friends with many a winged wheel fan that are far classier than the average Blackhawk fan I deal with at Scottrade.
Still, in the back of my mind I know there is a legitimate reason my Dad calls the Wings the "Russian Dive Team". :)
We certainly feel the Blues' pain when it comes to the injuries, having seen our Wings go through what they went through last year. Thanks to Jeff for doing this!
3 years ago