The St. Louis Blues haven't been a total disaster this year, but they count as one of the bigger disappointments out there. They came into the season viewed as one of the major contenders in the West. Perhaps this was the year that they would finally turn the corner and do some postseason damage? It hasn't worked out that way at all.
As it sits now they are tied for the final wild-card spot, and that's only because they have won three of their last four. They are just not a good team at this moment, and they really don't feel like a threat to Chicago and Minnesota in the West. The Blues have long been the masters of wasted potential, and that certainly doesn't seem to have changed lately.
So, what's up with this team? And what does it all mean for bettors? Here are six factors to consider when looking at those two questions:
Coaching change: There has almost never been a slow-played coaching change that has worked out. It's just a stupid decision. The team entered this year with Ken Hitchcock as the soon-to-be-retired head coach, and Mike Yeo was on board as the coach in waiting. Who ever could have guessed that that wouldn't work out? The team had had enough, so they expedited Hitchcock's departure last week and gave Yeo the full-time job early. They lost five of the last six under the old regime and three of four under Yeo, so in the short term the change is positive. It also has to help by clarifying the power structure and making it clear who needs to be listened to. I wasn't really crazy about the job Yeo did in Minnesota, but he's younger and much more energetic than Hitchcock, so the change should be seen as a positive.
Playoff scenario: The Blues aren't likely to catch the Blackhawks and definitely aren't catching the Wild. They are down, then, to finishing third in the division or grabbing a wild-card spot. They are just a point behind Nashville for third, but they are in a logjam of wild-card contenders - Calgary, L.A. and Winnipeg are all within five points, and Dallas is lurking, too, if they can get their act together - the Stars are a far bigger disappointment than the Blues this year. There is little margin for error in this hunt.
Robby Fabbri: The team suffered a pretty major blow when Fabbri, their second center, was lost for at least the rest of the season with a torn ACL. He leaves a big hole offensively in the roster. This team doesn't have enough offense to be able to casually deal with such a loss. Kenny Agostino, who was leading the AHL in scoring before being called up two games back, has been scoring well this year and has two points in two games up in the big show. That's nice, but can't be relied upon. You can't win if you can't score - especially for a team like this one which struggles to stop the other team from scoring. They currently sit 26th in the league in goals against, and the goaltending has been far from ideal.
Kevin Shattenkirk: Shattenkirk is the top defenseman on this team, and he is second on the team in scoring with 37 points. And they need to trade him. He's a free agent after this season, and he is going to be very expensive and highly in demand. They can't risk losing him for nothing, so they need to get rid of him now in return for some young prospects or picks that can help them going forward. This would likely mean waving a white flag on this season, but they probably aren't going anywhere anyway, so this could be a better move for the future.
Mental issues: There are teams in every league that I just don't trust mentally. In football the Falcons are one - and they proved in the second half of the Super Bowl why I questioned their response when punched in the teeth. The Blues are one of those teams, too. This team has had no shortage of talent for the last several years, but they always find ways to beat themselves They run into teams that want it more than they do, and they don't have an answer. Hitchcock was a part of that, but not all of it, I don't think. It remains to be seen if Yeo can change this. Until I see clear signs that he has, though, I will remain skeptical.
Betting performance: The Blues, predictably given their failure to meet expectations, have been a betting disaster. Only Dallas and Colorado have burned more money on the moneyline this year than St. Louis. Thanks to their defensive woes, they have been considerably better on the totals - they have gone "over" 25 times in 45 games to generate a small profit.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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