What’s behind St. Louis Blues’ humbling slump?
It was almost a month ago we were sitting here talking about the St. Louis Blues and their struggles after a loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The mirror check -- aided by a calling out by captain David Backes -- caused a turnaround, albeit briefly, as the Blues followed that game by winning three straight.
The good times didn't last long. The Blues have since lost five of seven, with the cherry on top of the ugly sundae coming Tuesday night with their collapse against, you guessed it, the Kings. It wasn't quite the "Miracle in Manchester", but the Blues allowing five unanswered goals after going up 4-1 early in the second period is not the kind of boot-putting-on-and-doing-it that Backes suggested 11 games ago.
[Also: NHL Power Rankings: The Streak is over, but Blackhawks are still No. 1]
But the brief success in those three games was really just a smokescreen of issues that have affected the Blues all season long.
From Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Dispatch:
Here’s a shocking statistic that tells us all we need to know about the Blues’ faint heart in the heat of competition:
In their eight losses and two ties since Feb.1, the Blues have been outscored 17-0 after the second period.
This is not a typo or factual error.
[Ed. note: Uh, ties?]
This is your team.
During the 5-8-2 slump the Blues have blown leads in five of their losses, including the 0-2 start to this vital five-game road trip.
(What is it with the rebirth of ties among national talking heads this week?)
So, what's the solution in St. Louis?
A new head coach? No. Ken Hitchcock wasn't brought in to last for only 16 months. Things haven't gone off the rails to the point where a change behind the bench is needed.
GM Doug Armstrong has reached the point where a bit of a roster shakeup is needed. They have the cap space, that's for sure, and if those currently in the room are incapable of keeping the consistency that they found last year once Hitchcock was hired, then changes need to be made.
Hildymac from St. Louis Gametime is out of patience:
I'm tired of reading excuses. I'm tired of watching this team shut out coaches after a year. Things aren't going your way? Hitchcock isn't going anywhere. The Blues played so badly last night that the team called up Jake Allen from Peoria -- Doug Armstrong's patience is gone. There's not enough time to have patience and fix this; something needs to be done now.
What worked last time to stop the skid was goaltender Jake Allen, who was recalled Tuesday after the debacle against the Kings.
That three-game win streak last month? Allen was in goal for all three. Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak aren't hurt, so St. Louis will be carrying three netminders for the time being.
[Also: Blackhawks' historic point streak over]
Halak hasn't been completely at fault. While he was in net for five of Los Angeles' goals on Tuesday, the defense the Blues played in front of him didn't help, like on Jeff Carter's go-ahead goal in the third period.
Elliott, however, is a different story.
He's not the same goaltender from a year ago. His last win came Jan. 31 against Columbus and has since dropped each of his last five starts. He earned a multi-year contract due to his strong play early last season, one that led to him being named an All-Star. But Jake Allen is coming and if the soon-to-be restricted free agent continues to impress when given the opportunity (like Thursday night in Phoenix), then a decision will need to be made.
The Blues are currently missing Andy MacDonald, Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, while Jamie Langenbrunner is done for the year. The attempt to overcome those injuries with plug-ins hasn't worked. The Central Division title is all but wrapped up by the Chicago Blackhawks, but fortunately for the Blues another slide hasn't put them too far down the Western Conference standings. As of Thursday, they sit ninth with 24 points, but only two behind Los Angeles for fourth.
Backes said last month that the talking was done. A Herb Brooks-inspired speech shouldn't be necessary for a Stanley Cup contender that's had ups and downs already this season.
A closed-door, players only meeting? Are the Blues beyond that now? Or is it just time to ship out some bodies and bring in new blood?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
NHL video from Yahoo! Sports:
Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
• Mariano Rivera's closing act reveals a portrait in grace, humility
• Redskins likely to release DeAngelo Hall
• Nets' Deron Williams sets NBA record for 3-pointers in one half
• Don't bury the Big East tournament yet