Is Gutless a Euphemism for ‘Not Good Enough’?

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The Blues missed the playoffs by a point. There are literally dozens of things that are worth a point. The three biggest (imo) are forward depth, goaltending, and coaching.

Forward Depth

The forward corps never recovered from losing David Perron to Vegas and Robby Fabbri‘s injury.  This is confounding because there was reason for optimism.  Last summer, Ivan Barbeshev looked ready to take a huge step forward.  Vladimir Sobotka looked like he was ready for a bigger role.  Maybe Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin

Went too far.  Any hope based on Paajarvi and Jaskin was a stretch even 8 months ago.

Patrick Berglund, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen rounds out who the Blues were hoping could play 14+ minutes a game.

Sobotka, Berglund, Stastny and Steen all belong in this league.  Still.  Contracts aside, their game translates to “NHL Regular” skill level.  Still.  The problem is they’re asked to take on a “top 6 forward” role with “NHL regular” talent.

That leaves two non-4th line spots.  Besides Jaskin and Paajarvi, the plan/hope was maybe Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sanford can fill these roles.



Sanford missed the season, but exploring how much he’d help is a ridiculous hypothetical.  Because the truth is he helped not at all due to circumstance.

I’ve seen enough of Sundqvist.  He’s an adequate 4th liner in that most teams goal for their 4th line is “don’t hinder us”.

Kyle Brodziak finally settled in for one of those spots after the Stastny trade opened up a spot for him.  I hope Brodz played himself into another contract; if not here then someplace else.    He deserves it.

Jaden Schwartz‘s injury was the trigger for the slow decline from leading the division in December to missing the playoffs.  But the top line was going to cool off.   Something like this was going to happen, and for this fan, the difference between missing the playoffs versus getting creamed by Nashville in the first round isn’t too great.

Goaltending

Who’s the real Jake Allen?  Is he the guy who carried the Blues into the 2017 playoffs and was THE reason for the upset series win over Minnesota? Or is he an animated gif of skating to the bench after getting pulled?

I’m a Steve Dangle fan.  He routinely uses the phrase Voodoo, Wizardy and B.S. (T-shirt link)  That describes goalies to a tee, and Allen is a prime example of his species.  When he’s on, he will carry the team.  When he’s off, well no need to keep pulling on that band-aid.

There’s really not an answer here.  Scream ‘Get rid of him!’ all you want; but seriously most starting goalies aren’t consistently good several years in a row.  Carey Price had a 4 season string of .920+ save percentages.  That 4 season string is the outlier.

Allen’s problem is his peaks and valleys happen without warning and with alarming frequency.  His .906 save percentage is pretty bad, but what made it worse is no one has a good read on how he’s playing week to week.

Coaching

I am unimpressed with Mike Yeo.  The best recommendation I can give for his retention is “Well who’s your other option?”

Forget the last second goal against Chicago last week.  Forget trying to beat a pretty good Colorado team on the road.

Scanning results from January and beyond:

lose to Philly 6-3

lose to Florida 7-4

lose to ‘Yotes 5-2

lose to Pitt 4-1

lose to Winnipeg 4-0

lose to Nashville 4-0

lose to Wild 8-3

lose to ‘Yotes 6-0



It is my recollection that the team wasn’t even competitive in these games.  The two highlighted red were played the weekend immediately before the trade deadline.  Fighting for their play-off lives this team gets torched in back to back games.

Not being ready to play is on the coach.

I try not to bang on players too hard.  Because eventually, you have to accept that players are pretty much who they are.  Here’s some questions I have for Mike Yeo

  • What did Jaskin do to deserve dressing in 76 games.
  • What does Thorburn bring to this team that you can’t find in a personable assistant coach.
  • Why is JayBo still playing top 4 defense pair minutes?
  • Why do you consistently choose known mediocrity over unknown potential?

So where to from here?

I see lots of social media and blog posts calling for Armstrong’s termination.  He definitely deserves some criticism.   Like, he hired the coach I want fired…

But some of this is the normal ebb and flow of a team’s fortune.  You go on a good run for 5 years: players get old, have contracts expire and move on, and your draft position lands in the bottom third.  Armstrong is still the guy who traded David Rundblad for the Tarasenko pick, and found Parayko and Dunn in the 2nd round.

My offseason wish list does not include winning the press conference (signing Tavares).   Do your homework Blues, because what this team needs is an Evgenii Dadonov or a Jonathan Marchessault diamond in the rough.   Short term, good value, someone who can bridge this team past the inevitable growing pains of the next batch of forward prospects.

What’s with the title?

You think this team lacks guts?  I can eye roll harder, but I’d hurt myself in the attempt.  This 2018 team was flawed.  It’s not about the caring, it’s about the talent.

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