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01-08-2012, 01:49 PM
  #1
BlueDream
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Midseason Analysis

Well we've hit the midway point of the season so it's time for some grades and discussion.

Team numbers:
41 games, 53 points
Record: 24-12-5 (Hitchcock: 18-5-5)
1st in Central, 2nd in West
Home: 17-3-2 (1st in NHL)
Road: 7-9-3
L10: 6-3-1
GF: 107 (T-19th)
GA: 89 (3rd)
PP: 14.8% (22nd) (is top 20 under Hitchcock)
PK: 82.1% (18th) (around top 5 under Hitchcock)

The team is obviously playing some tremendous hockey under Hitchcock. Basically everyone has improved. How about some individual grades though?

Forwards:

Alex Steen: One of our best players all year until he got injured. Don't really need to explain how valuable he is. A+

David Backes: Somewhat of a slow start, but turned it on a little earlier than usual I think and is now a one-man wrecking crew out there. Has played some dominant hockey and leads the team in points; great fit as Captain. A

T.J. Oshie: Probably the most improved player under Hitchcock. He's playing the best hockey of his career I'd say. 2nd on the team in points, and just creates so much energy. A

David Perron: 13 pts in 16 games since returning, and he's been great. He's just a magician with the puck and has made every line better that he's been on. Solid defensively too, so I couldn't have asked for more from him. A

Patrik Berglund: I've been hard on him but he has deserved a lot of the criticism. 10 goals isn't bad but on pace for less than 40 pts. That has to improve. He has struggled a little but has looked better as of late. One positive is he's more physical these days. This is kind of a tough one but until he shows more consistency I'll give him a C-.

Chris Stewart: It's been a tough year for Chris, I think we all know that. Started off with 2 goals in the first 3 games, and then went on a real tough stretch for the next 25 games including getting suspended. He struggled mightily, no need to go into more of that. However, over the past 10 or so games, he has looked better, and has 5 goals in that stretch I believe. He looks good on Backes' line, moving his feet and going to the front of the net. I think he'll pick it up in the 2nd half but the first half was still a disappointment overall, so while he's one of my favorite players, I probably have to give him a D+.

Matt D'Agostini: Has been on the 3rd line a lot, and has great speed and a great shot, but he has disappeared for stretches too. He will still get around 20 goals though so not too bad. C

Jason Arnott: On pace for 40+ points as the #3 center. He's been a solid addition IMO. Around 50% on faceoffs, he's big, adds leadership, and has a rocket of a shot. Can't really complain with his production. B

Jamie Langenbrunner: Not a lot of offensive production but didn't really expect a ton. He also provides good leadership and I like his toughness. Always working hard, going to the front of the net, playing physical, sticking up for teammates, etc. C

Vladimir Sobotka: Pretty underrated player here. He's so strong and such a big hitter. He's fast, versatile, always works hard, and has a decent offensive game. He's not a top 6 player but fine on the 3rd line. I've been impressed with his passing. B+

All the 4th-liners: C. Grachev, Porter, Nichol, Reaves are all your average grinders. They all do their job well and have been fine players for us but nothing special, just about what youd expect. Hoped for more offensive from Grachev but he doesnt really have it; hes been fine defensively though.

Not going to grade any players that have played less than 7 games (McDonald, Crombeen, Cracknell, Sterling). They have all played well though.

Defensemen:

Carlo Colaiacovo: Injury-proned as we all know but has provided some solid offensive production at .5 PPG and has actually been good defensively this season. He's somewhat underrated and has been a decent partner for Pietrangelo. I sometimes want a more physical guy in that spot but I can't complain too much with how Carlo's played. B

Alex Pietrangelo: He's just so smart and good defensively. Makes the rare mistake but he's just now turning 22! His offense is also starting to pick up. Can't complain with Petro either, he's pretty darn consistent. A-

Kevin Shattenkirk: This guy has been a stud. He's so good offensively (on pace for another ~45 point season) the way he can skate, pass, move the puck, see the ice, and also shoot. He's got so many great tools, and his defensive game is extremely solid this season too as he's becoming a regular PK'er. He's 2nd among Blues' d-men in TOI. This 22-year old d-man is becoming one of our true core players that plays a smart, well-rounded game. Really impressed, thanks Colorado. A+

Barret Jackman: Makes a good pair with Shatty. He's been solid defensively this year and its probably been one of his best seasons yet. I can think of about 1-2 bad games he's had this year but other than that he has been really good. A-

Roman Polak: Good defensively as usual. Not too much to say about this guy as he pretty much plays the same every single game. B+

Kris Russell: Great skater, good offensive instincts, occassionally gets overmatched defensively due to being on the smaller side, but I like him alright. He's been a nice addition. B-

Ian Cole: Hes looked good. In his first games he would be a little rusty but thats expected. Hes playing physical which is what he needs to do and has actually looked pretty good offensively as well. He seems to be using his shot more and getting involved in the plays. B

Kent Huskins: Was extremely steady before he got hurt. Hes so calm out there and even chipped in some points. Would like to see more once he returns. A

Other: Not going to grade Fairchild on his limited time; hes been fine though.

Goalies:

Jaroslav Halak: Got off to a brutal start but since then has rebounded nicely. It was just one bad month of October but then he started to improve in November and has been good for the past 2 months. He hasn't lost in regulation since Nov. 22 I believe, and his numbers are very respectable now: 2.29 GAA and .911 save%. I still do think he's a bit above average sometimes but he's been good enough. B-

Brian Elliott: Well, who would have thought this guy would be 15-5 with 5 shutouts, a 1.62 GAA and .940 save% at midseason? I don't think anyone. What an amazing surprise. He really kept us afloat in the first month of the season, and with two solid goalies, they can both stay fresh and give us a chance to win every single game. A+

Thoughts? A few were tough, but I feel pretty good about those grades. I think this would be a nice thread to discuss some individual players and even hopes for the 2nd half. Overall the team as a whole deserves an A for an exceptional first half of the season. Its been fun to watch, and hope they can keep it going!

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01-08-2012, 02:51 PM
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PocketNines
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Good analysis. Close enough grades on everyone that the most anyone could do is nitpick a tick up here, a tick down there.

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01-08-2012, 03:04 PM
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I think the overall team grade is probably an -A. The boys have been extraordinary at home and fed of the energy at the Scottrade.

Even though our record is good enough for first in the division and second in the conference, we still have some areas that we really need to improve. Overall our PK has been solid, but were are still pretty low in PK% compared to the rest of the league. Then there is the other half of the special teams play. Our PP is horrendous. Not much more to say about that. Finally, while our offense is coming more alive as of late, we are still too low on the goals per game list. The good news it that we might end up with seven 20 goal scorers. That in itself is pretty darn impressive.

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01-08-2012, 03:06 PM
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Home: 17-3-2 (1st in NHL)
Road: 7-9-3
That road record needs to improve. The Blues play a majority of their games in the 2nd half on the road. They need to get that turned around. I'm having trouble figuring out why they're not so good away from home though. The home fans, being able to match lines better and the advantage on faceoffs shouldn't cause THAT much of a difference IMO. As good as this team is in Hitch's system 5 on 5, hopefully they can get that road record turned around.

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01-08-2012, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by STL fan in IA View Post
That road record needs to improve. The Blues play a majority of their games in the 2nd half on the road. They need to get that turned around. I'm having trouble figuring out why they're not so good away from home though. The home fans, being able to match lines better and the advantage on faceoffs shouldn't cause THAT much of a difference IMO. As good as this team is in Hitch's system 5 on 5, hopefully they can get that road record turned around.
It's actually just a difference of three games. 19 at home, 22 on the road.

10-10-2 on the road and 14-2-3 at home will duplicate the first half of the season. A couple of extra road wins would allow a couple of more home losses.

The Blues can do it. Especially when the reinforcements arrive - McDonald, Steen and Huskins and Russell.

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01-08-2012, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Celtic Note View Post
I think the overall team grade is probably an -A. The boys have been extraordinary at home and fed of the energy at the Scottrade.

Even though our record is good enough for first in the division and second in the conference, we still have some areas that we really need to improve. Overall our PK has been solid, but were are still pretty low in PK% compared to the rest of the league. Then there is the other half of the special teams play. Our PP is horrendous. Not much more to say about that. Finally, while our offense is coming more alive as of late, we are still too low on the goals per game list. The good news it that we might end up with seven 20 goal scorers. That in itself is pretty darn impressive.
Good points, and I agree 100%.

We still need to improve our special teams, road record, and goal scoring. The good news is all those things ARE improving under Hitchcock. Our PK has been great under him, our powerplay has been at least top 20 under him (and looking a lot better lately so hopefully it continues trending upward), and I read that under Hitchcock the team is 5-3-3 on the road, compared to I guess 2-7 under Payne? So that's an improvement, and that's where they need to get to. If they play this dominant on home ice, if they can at least be .500 on the road, we'll be good. And hopefully they do start scoring some goals. They're in the top 20, but it'd be nice to at least be in the middle around 15th. After that 3-game losing streak, they've had a nice little outburst of goals scored, and that has correlated with a lot of powerplay goals the last few games - so that's a good sign.

It will be an interesting second half. But it's nice that the Blues are at the top instead of being stuck in a hole that they have to dig themselves out of this time.

This team should get some nice results at the end of the season, and ultimately we can thank Hitchcock for that. What a turnaround it's been.

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01-08-2012, 03:25 PM
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I think the Blues have shown all the tools necessary to win on the road. They are getting known around the league as one of the harder teams to play due to their checking/physical style. If we can carry the offensive production of the last few weeks into the next half of the season, we should be fine.

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01-08-2012, 04:41 PM
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It's easier to match up Berglund's line at home. In any event, the 3-6 record under Payne makes the road win rate look worse than its likely corrected rate under Hitchcock. It's very important that the Blues aim for at least the 4 seed if they can't win the division, because starting on the road at Detroit or Chicago is not going to be good.

They actually have some quality road wins among those 7: Vancouver, San Jose, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (with Crosby) and Washington. Phoenix and Columbus are the other two. Even the three shootout losses (at Minnesota, at Colorado, at Nashville) the Blues dominated the majority of the games.

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01-08-2012, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by PocketNines View Post
It's easier to match up Berglund's line at home. In any event, the 3-6 record under Payne makes the road win rate look worse than its likely corrected rate under Hitchcock. It's very important that the Blues aim for at least the 4 seed if they can't win the division, because starting on the road at Detroit or Chicago is not going to be good.

They actually have some quality road wins among those 7: Vancouver, San Jose, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (with Crosby) and Washington. Phoenix and Columbus are the other two. Even the three shootout losses (at Minnesota, at Colorado, at Nashville) the Blues dominated the majority of the games.
Good point, and overall the Blues have just won against the elite teams period.

2-0 vs. Vancouver
2-0 vs. San Jose
2-1 vs. Chicago
2-2 vs. Detroit
4-0 vs. Philly, Pitt, NYR, Florida (the Blues are just insane vs. the East)

I know Washington isn't playing up to their potential this year but we dominated them as well.

Pretty impressive. This is why the Blues are for real.

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01-08-2012, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueDream View Post
Good point, and overall the Blues have just won against the elite teams period.

2-0 vs. Vancouver
2-0 vs. San Jose
2-1 vs. Chicago
2-2 vs. Detroit
4-0 vs. Philly, Pitt, NYR, Florida (the Blues are just insane vs. the East)

I know Washington isn't playing up to their potential this year but we dominated them as well.

Pretty impressive. This is why the Blues are for real.
7-0-1 against the East this season and the one loss was to Toronto in a game which the Blues completely dominated and Ben Scrivens played out of his mind to steal it for the Maple Leafs

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01-08-2012, 06:03 PM
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As good as they've played and as high as they are in the standings, I really believe this team is better than their record indicates. There have been very few games where they didn't dictate the pace of the game and control the action...and even in the majority of their losses they were the better team on the ice that night. If they keep working hard and building chemistry amongst the lines there's not a team in the West that I would be concerned with facing in the playoffs...they can beat anyone 4 out of 7 games, no doubt in my mind.

If they offense starts rolling like we saw late last year, the rest of the league better look out.

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01-08-2012, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Falco Lombardi View Post
7-0-1 against the East this season and the one loss was to Toronto in a game which the Blues completely dominated and Ben Scrivens played out of his mind to steal it for the Maple Leafs
Haha talk about a frustrating game. Finally Berglund popped one in at the end to tie it but we dominated for a long long time without being able to buy a goal. In fact, I don't remember the puck even leaving Toronto's zone except when they went on the powerplay.

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01-08-2012, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Stealth JD View Post
As good as they've played and as high as they are in the standings, I really believe this team is better than their record indicates. There have been very few games where they didn't dictate the pace of the game and control the action...and even in the majority of their losses they were the better team on the ice that night. If they keep working hard and building chemistry amongst the lines there's not a team in the West that I would be concerned with facing in the playoffs...they can beat anyone 4 out of 7 games, no doubt in my mind.

If they offense starts rolling like we saw late last year, the rest of the league better look out.
There really is that possibility when you consider the PP was non-existant in most of the games they lost and somehow we've just been crippled in the shootout when our goalies rarely give up more than one in the first 3 chances.

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01-08-2012, 11:10 PM
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Haha talk about a frustrating game. Finally Berglund popped one in at the end to tie it but we dominated for a long long time without being able to buy a goal. In fact, I don't remember the puck even leaving Toronto's zone except when they went on the powerplay.
Yeah that game was one of the more frustrating ones of the season. It probably would have been tops had it been a Western Conference opponent.

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01-08-2012, 11:52 PM
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Some of these grades are weird because they seem to be flat-out grades, while others are relative to the players' abilities.
Berglund, for example, deserves higher than a C- in general, but I can accept that grade in relation to what we've seen him do and of what he appears to be capable. But if that's the case, why not give A+ to Nichol? He's playing to his potential and role with perfection.

You either grade entirely relative to the rest of the NHL or you grade entirely relative to the players' own abilities. If you have a mixture, it loses meaning.

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01-09-2012, 10:33 PM
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Some of these grades are weird because they seem to be flat-out grades, while others are relative to the players' abilities.
Berglund, for example, deserves higher than a C- in general, but I can accept that grade in relation to what we've seen him do and of what he appears to be capable. But if that's the case, why not give A+ to Nichol? He's playing to his potential and role with perfection.

You either grade entirely relative to the rest of the NHL or you grade entirely relative to the players' own abilities. If you have a mixture, it loses meaning.
I agree with that statement, but I believe he was grading along the lines of expected point production compared to actual point production, which if you see it in that light, it makes much more sense

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01-09-2012, 10:35 PM
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Well it's tough to grade, but should Nichol really be included in the same group as Shattenkirk, Steen, Oshie, Backes, Pietrangelo, etc? I don't think so. He can win faceoffs, but how would he deserve an A? He's not that great. If a player is average I just gave them a C for the most part.

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01-09-2012, 11:23 PM
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Well it's tough to grade, but should Nichol really be included in the same group as Shattenkirk, Steen, Oshie, Backes, Pietrangelo, etc? I don't think so. He can win faceoffs, but how would he deserve an A? He's not that great. If a player is average I just gave them a C for the most part.
Every team in the league would take Berglund's current play over Nichol's current play, regardless of role. He's getting a C- from you based on disparity between expectations and his production/performance. And you're just giving a C to Nichol because he's average overall, not based on the gap between expectations and performance. It's completely inconsistent and doesn't show what kind of season the player is having or his value to the team. If a grade doesn't do that, what's the point?

I'm not telling you not to make a thread like this or not to grade. I'm just saying that your grading criteria are warped. Either base it on performance and value to the team, period, irrespective of potential; or base it on expectations.
If you're rating a player's complete impact and it has nothing to do with his potential, a B+ for Polak means that he's basically a first pairing defenseman. He's good, but I don't believe that's what you're saying. And if you're rating relative to a player's potential, then a C for Nichol means he certainly isn't reaching it. Do you see how inconsistent that is and how it fails to communicate about the player's performance and value to the team?

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