The St. Louis Blues are on the hot seat. They had a great start to their season. The team was once competing for first place in the NHL thanks to production from the defensemen; the top line of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko and the incredible performances from both Jake Allen and Carter Hutton. That said, everything started to fall apart after the All-Star break.
The Blues have since fallen to 37-27-5 and are in sixth place in the Central Division, fighting to make the playoffs at all. They are currently on a two-game winning streak, but can they keep it up? If they can’t, everyone is to blame.
Blues On The Hot Seat
The Blues cannot seem to do anything right these days. From trades to poor performances, the Blues are declining fast. If the Blues do not make the playoffs this year, everyone should be on the hot seat.
General Manager Doug Armstrong
Just talking about this season, the Paul Stastny trade is a major factor in why Armstrong should be on the hot seat. Stastny was traded at the trade deadline to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2018 first round pick, Erik Foley and a 2020 fourth round pick. Stastny will be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after this season and the Blues probably would not have re-signed Stastny so it was a good trade in that the Blues got something for him instead of just letting him walk during the offseason.
However, the Blues made no other significant moves before the trade deadline. This leaves a giant gap at center on the first line. That spot was at first filled with Ivan Barbashev who only has 13 points in 40 games this season. Since trading Stastny, Barbashev has three points in five games. The Blues are 3-3 since trading Stastny.
While trading Stastny opened up the door for Barbashev to get more experience and potentially help the Blues in the future, it seemed to have closed the door for a good playoff run this season. This trade made it seem like Armstrong had already given up on the season.
Head Coach Mike Yeo Should Be On The Hot Seat
This is only Yeo’s first full season as head coach of the Blues. He was hired after the Blues fired Hitchcock on February 1, 2017. While Yeo led the Blues to the Western Conference Semifinals last season and led the Blues to a great start this season, that is over now and the Blues run a serious risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010-11. If the Blues don’t make the playoffs, the first person to blame is often the coach. It is possible that Yeo might not be the right fit for the beaten down Blues.
Fans also question Yeo for putting Barbashev on the first line. Many believe that Schenn deserves the number one center spot. In fact, that is where he played during the Blues 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Schenn played with Tarasenko and Schwartz. This line produced five points in the victory.
Captain Alex Pietrangelo On The Hot Seat
Pietrangelo has produced a stellar year offensively. The captain has 43 points in 65 games. He takes on a lot of responsibility both on and off the ice. On the ice, he is averaging 25:36 per game playing on the top defensive pairing against the best in the NHL. Off the ice, he is trying to help his team get their heads back in the game. His job is not an easy one, that is for sure. But, is his leadership working? Without access to his words in the locker room and on the bench makes this question a hard one to answer. He says the right things to the press and we see mixed responses as a result of his leadership on the ice.
After losing at home to the Winnipeg Jets 0-4 on February 23, the Blues got booed off the ice by Blues fans. Pietrangelo said, “We don’t like that, especially me.”
If the Blues would have taken their anger from being booed off the ice and used it productively, maybe this quote would not be so unpopular among fans. However, the Blues got shutout again in the next game 0-4 against the Nashville Predators and lost 3-8 against the Minnesota Wild the next game. Pietrangelo is not the only one to blame for these losses, but he is a piece of the puzzle.
Top Six Forwards Should Be on the Hot Seat
As of now, the top six forwards are JSchwartz, Schenn, Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund. The three players that deserve to be in the top six are Schwartz, Schenn, and Tarasenko. When put on the same line, their chemistry is magical. Schwartz, who has missed over a month of the season, has 49 points in 49 games. Schenn has 58 points in 69 games. Tarasenko has 58 points in 59 games.
However, they tend to struggle individually when they are not playing together. They also tend to disappear when the Blues need them the most. The Blues have been shutout seven times this season. They have scored one goal 10 times this season. It is hard to win games when you can barely score. Even though the top line has been productive, they failed to help the Blues win in the 17 games in which they scored one or fewer goals.
Let’s look at Steen. Steen is 34 years old and nearing the end of his career. In 63 games this season, he has 40 points. However, this is his worst full season since he was traded to the Blues in 2008-09. He has had 28 and 27 point seasons, but he only played 43 and 40 games. For $7 million, the Blues could get someone much younger and faster.
Patrik Berglund has 16 points in 44 games this season. He has had three 20 goal seasons and one 50 point season in his career. Berglund is capable of being a great forward, but he has only scratched the surface of his potential with the Blues. He can do better and so can the Blues.
Vladimir Sobotka Should Be on the Hot Seat
Blues fans are not wrong in wishing that Vladimir Sobotka would have just stayed in the KHL. Sobotka was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins in 2005. He was traded to the Blues in 2010-11 and played until 2013-14. 2013-14 was the best season of his career. He had 33 points in 61 games. He was at the peak of his NHL career. From 2014-15 to 2016-17, he played for the Avangard Omsk of the KHL. This season, he has 26 points in 67 games. Sobotka is not cutting it for the Blues.
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