Take 5 for Friday …
1. I’m not sure if the Blues have an official moving-company sponsor, but hopefully GM Doug Armstrong will be ordering a large van soon, because it’s looking more and more as if this underachieving, bizarrely ambivalent team requires an adjustment. Or call it a shakeup if you’d like. But knowing how aggressive Armstrong is, I find it hard to believe he’ll put up with this much longer without altering the composition of his roster.
After a 6-1 start the Blues have gone 4-6-2. But you have to go inside the record to see what an enigma they’ve become. The Blues go on the road, and they flip the energy switch. They’re hungry. They recommit to Ken Hitchcock’s system. And then they return to Scottrade Center and turn into the St. Louis Snooze.
Heading into tonight’s engagement with visiting Edmonton the Blues — shockingly — are 1-5-1 in its last seven home games. They’ve been outscored by a stunning margin of 26-11. This is a team with a core nucleus, and essentially the same cast, that lost only SIX games at home during the entire 2011-2012 seson.
The Blues were the league’s most dominant home team last season with a 30-6-5 mark at The Scotty. They allowed 65 goals in 41 home games and were a plus 40 at even strength. This season the Blues are a minus 11 at home, even strength.
This would be a good time to send a message by making a trade. And don’t think that Armstrong will be bashful about doing so. He was the force behind the mega deal that sent defenseman Erik Johnson to Colorado. Blues players have a great situation here. And if they don’t appreciate that, then maybe Armstrong should remind them.
2. Post-Dispatch hockey writer Jeremy Rutherford has been making the point, the observation, for a while now. But this team is getting awful play from the left side of the defense. Just horrible.
3. I don’t care how bad South Carolina is … heck of a win by Mizzou. I don’t parse victories; a team that hasn’t been able to win on the road gets props from me for playing well and winning convincingly in pounding South Carolina. To pin down an NCAA Tournament spot, a primary objective for MU is to win the games they should win, and not get dragged down by a bad loss. And a defeat at South Carolina would have been a very bad loss. MU is 2-7 on the road, which isn’t good. But the Tigers have quality wins over VCU, Illinois and Florida. They’re 3-1 on neutral courts. Flaws and all, MU is in good shape.
4. I like Mizzou’s winning formula at SC. Rather than rely on lazy outside jump shots all night, the Tigers used their size to attack the goal. They got physical with dunks and layins setup by drives and dishes. The Tigers attempted only 9 three-pointers after heaving 27 of ‘em against South Carolina earlier this season at Mizzou Arena. MU scored on 10 dunks and had 46 points in the paint.
“Your percentages are going to be better if you get paint points,” coach Frank Haith told reporters after the game. “That’s our key. That’s who we are.”
I respectfully disagree … this is who Mizzou SHOULD be. But it isn’t who they are. I’ve harped about this a few times this season. Mizzou has a strong finisher inside in Alex Oriakhi. They have several long, physically imposing guards capable of muscling smaller opponents. But the Tigers haven’t done that nearly enough. Thursday night they did; they attacked. And we saw the difference.
5. Don’t worry about Jim Crews and St. Louis U and the future. That is all.
Have a great weekend.
Thanks for reading.