Depth Scoring is a big key with any team. Ivan Barbashev, Vince Dunn, Oskar Sundqvist, and Colton Parayko are all part of the depth that St. Louis is counting on to take them for a long ride this post-season. (Jeff Roberson/AP Photo)
ST LOUIS, MO – As the NHL regular season winds down, we wanted to take a look ahead to the playoffs and examine, specifically, the depth scoring of the Blues and how it compares to other teams.
With the emergence of players like Oskar Sundqvist (14 goals), Ivan Barbashev (13), and defenseman Vince Dunn (11) the St. Louis Blues’ secondary scoring has been somewhat of a surprise this season. They also set a franchise record by having 3 defensemen with at least 10 or more goals this season.
The Top 6 Score Goals
After all, that’s what they are paid to do; that’s what you expect from them. However, if the majority of your offensive production is coming from 2 or 3 guys, it’s much easier for a team to defend those players and shut down your offense.
Case in point, look at what the Blues did with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in two of their most recent games. McDavid had one shot on goal in each of the two games. Draisaitl had 2 and 4 shots on goal. Neither player got onto the scoresheet in those games. Those players are near the 100-point mark for the season. The Blues’ defense shut them down and the Oilers team was helpless to score otherwise.
Now look on the Notes’ side to the last few games. “Big Rig” Pat Maroon had a goal in four games straight and has clocked 6 points in his last five games. The aforementioned Oskar Sundqvist, who only had five points last season with St. Louis, now has five points in his last five, bringing his total to 29. Finally, Ivan Barbashev, a fourth-liner for almost the entirety of this season, netted his first career hat trick against Detroit on March 21st.
Top Three Scoring
With the regular season winding down, the Blues are getting 29.5% of their scoring from their top three players. Ryan O’Reilly (71 points), Vladimir Tarasenko (60), and Brayden Schenn (48) are the top three in total points. While they say “your best players have to be your best players”, in comparison to other teams that look to be in the playoffs, that statistic doesn’t really jump off the page at you. In fact, there are 6 other teams who get less than 29% of their scoring from their top 3.
It’s when you look further down the score sheet that you start to see the depth scoring that the Blues possess this year. At the time of writing this, of the teams that look to make the playoffs, the Blues are tied with 3 other teams for the most players in double digits in goals with 11. San Jose, Tampa Bay, and Montreal also each have 11 players with at least 10 goals.
Dallas seems to be the most one-dimensional with only 6 players in double-digit goals. Minnesota has 8. In the Eastern Conference, Boston and Pittsburgh each have 7 players with 10 or more. New York Islanders and Carolina Panthers have 8 each.
Top Seven Scorers
When analyzing how diverse the offense of the Blues really is, we looked at the top 7 scorers for each projected NHL playoff team. In the table shown below, teams that are a threat to score with any of their four lines and their defense have a much lower percentage. The higher the number, the more ‘one-dimensional’ the team is. Here are the seven top teams projected to make the playoffs and the percentage of scoring their top 7 players produce.
|TEAM||% of Points from Top 7 Players|
|Vegas Golden Knights||53.2%|
|St. Louis Blues||54.1%|
|New York Islanders||55.4%|
The Blues get 54.1% of their scoring from their top 7 scorers, getting 2nd-best of the teams likely to make the playoffs. The Vegas Golden Knights were first with only 53.2% of their scoring coming from the top 7.
Western Conference teams like Colorado (65.9%), Calgary (64.1%), and Dallas (61.4%) depend on their top players for most of their offense, while Boston (67%) and Pittsburgh (63.7%) are the thinnest in the East.
When you go back and look at recent Stanley Cup Finals, last year’s Vegas squad got 58.9% of their scoring out of the top 7 players. Washington was just a little over 60%. The Penguins two Cup-winning teams relied on their big boys for 60% of their scoring in their 15-16 season, but just 55% in the 16-17 run.
Looking back at former Blues teams, they haven’t had a team this deep since before the 1999-2000 season. In fact, the team that many fans point back to as the team that had the best chance to go all the way was the ’03-’04 team. That team, led by Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Pavol Demitra, Chris Pronger, Dallas Drake, Scott Mellanby, and Petr Cajanek accounted for a whopping 66% of the team’s scoring. Unfortunately, Blues fans all know how that ended up.
The Blues scoring threats are coming from just about everywhere this season. We saw it last year with the Vegas team who made a deep run into the Stanley Cup Finals rolling four lines of guys who could put the puck in the net. Let’s hope this team’s depth scoring keeps us guessing as to who is going to score for a couple more months this season.