ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s pretty amazing that we are here at Christmas time and besides the constant Cards talk in this town the second subject matter of sports that I hear brought up is the Blues and not the Rams. This is great for one team and not so much for the other. But one of the common questions I hear asked about the Blues is what has been the difference in this team? Let me break it down into 3 things in order:
1) Goaltending. Just like pitching in baseball, goaltending, especially hot goaltending, will trump anything else in the sport. Brian Elliot is just an incredible story in his first two months-plus of the season. Elliot’s numbers are tops in the league as of this weekend. And after a cool start, Jaroslav Halak has played so much better. This tandem has been a primary reason why the Blues are one of the best teams in the league.
2) Ken Hitchcock. The record cannot lie that Coach Hitch has made a difference. I remember in Hitchcock’s introductory press conference as the Blues new coach he talked about how after his last coaching gig he had time to reflect on coaching and his philosophy. If he changed or not I don’t know but he definitely has a lot of the young vets playing more to their potential. And the 200 foot game has been way more conducive to what works better for this young team.
3) 2nd Line Production. If you remember at the start of the year Jason Arnott and other grizzled vets provided scoring for this team. Then the top line of Oshie, Backes, and Steen took off and carried the team in scoring for a few a while. Well, now it looks like the second line has gotten their act together and is providing some scoring support for the Blues. The Berglund, Perron and Stewart line has combined for 14 points in the last 7 games. And of course Perron has only played in 5 of those games. Sure I want to see a more out of Chris Stewart, but it’s nice to see these guys provide some offensive support to help the rest of the team.
The NHL season is a long winding road like the baseball season. There’s still a long way to go in the season and many things can happen to a team unexpectedly, just look at the Flyers and the loss of Chris Pronger. But right now the Blues seemed primed with their depth to finally get back into the playoffs. And if the team stays healthy, they should make some noise deep into the playoffs if they continue to play to their potential.
Scott Warmann is a host on the KMOX Sports Hub