The NHL schedule is 82 games long, but produces mini seasons within this mold, peaks and valleys during which teams can look like a juggernaut or laughing arrows. That’s what makes the 2021-22 St. Louis Blues race so great.
Do you remember the March 2022 blues tumble? They opened the month with four straight defeats and went 5-6-3. In the March 5 on 5 match, they won by 30-27, outdone 329-320 and outnumbered 358-314. Goalkeepers Phil Hoso and Jordan Bennington scored 27 goals in the leagueyBest savings rate of the month.
in April? They have become the goddesses of St. Louis. Since losing it in overtime on April 1, they have racked up nine straight wins. In 5v5 play during that period, they outperformed their opponents 37-24. Their total goals in nine games in April: five, six, five, four, four, six, four, six, six, eight. Simply unbelievable. On the day of the trading deadline in late March, they looked like a team ready to go through the playoffs and eliminate a real contender. Now, the Hot Blues look like any team in the league. Their winning streak includes victories over the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild (twice), the Boston Bruins and the Nashville Predators.
The Blues now have the eighth best point in the NHL at 0.671. They have risen to the Stanley Cup Division II contender’s pool including the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Wildebeest and Possum Tampa Bay Lightning. But is it time to graduate the Blues to Tier 1 along with the all-season strengths of the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers?
The answer is not so simple. The Blues are making their way with the NHL in April according to the standings and scoreboards, but the numbers under the hood suggest they are not as dominant as they appear on the surface.
This team obviously has a lot going for it. The Blues now have the NHL’s No. 2 powerhouse and 6 penalty kicks. They have incredible depth in scoring, armed with seven scorers with 20 goals and might finish with nine if Robert Thomas and Ryan O’Reilly score two and three more, respectively. Eleven blues have at least 40 points, and eight of them have 50 points or more. Stanley Cup-caliber teams these days roll three legitimate scoring streaks, and the Blues qualify perfectly there. Vladimir Tarasenko, whose shoulder is finally feeling fine, has enjoyed a massive throwback season. Thomas has emerged as a truly dominant playmaker, ranking second in the NHL only to Johnny Goudreau in initial passes per 60 minutes. Pavel Bukhnevich will probably have the Rangers looking for a spin on his last off-season deal. After faltering in March, Husso made 6-0-1 with 0.924 SV% in April.
Do we therefore classify the blues on top of a predator in the Western Conference? clings. The big contributor to her massive hotline this month is, well, luck. In a 5v5 match in April, they scored 15.55% of their shots in the top league. In fact they only sit 14y In projected goals per 60. On the defensive side, with Hoso and Bennington rebounding, they have 10 league goals.yBest savings rate this month. This hides the fact that they have the second worst predicted goal against 60. You read that right.
During the incredible 9-0-1 April in the Blues, their opponents have an advantage of 514-400 in shot attempts. They outperformed 299-238 and outperformed 260-233. They excelled in six wins out of nine during the streak and are out in five.
The NHL Blues are seeded 5-on-5 during April 9-0-1:
|CF / 60||CA / 60||SF / 60||SA / 60||SCF / 60||SCA / 60||xGF / 60||xGA / 60|
They played some of the worst defensive hockey in the NHL this month and are rated average to below average in generating chances. The biggest contributors to their fast-running: Their ranking in these two stats is 5 out of 5:
The blues have a lot going for them. Their front group is as deep as any team in the NHL. They also directly show that an above-average goal can make a good team great. But they’re also showing some annoying trends under the hood. If their luck evaporates or the goalkeepers retreat, they may catch cold, rather than heat, at the worst possible time.
rival? certainly. Elite competitor? not yet. Not until they clean up their 5-on-5 defensive play.