Bernie On The Blues: After a spring break trip to New York, it’s time for the blues to get back to work.

The Blues were 0-2-1 on their spring break trip to the New York area, a place where saloons stay open until 4 a.m. Thank goodness the boys returned from vacation on Sunday. They’ll have the chance to catch up, clean up and reset in time to play four of the next five games at Enterprise Center.

Now that I’ve thrown a few jabs for fun, let’s get serious.

Everyone relaxes. Breathe deeply. Exhale. Repeat.

As a general rule, I’m all for overreacting, but I’m going to pass up this opportunity. Granted, the Blues’ disappointing trip was boring as hell. Of course, they must resume their activities.

But that little 0-2-1 floating trip only becomes a problem if it continues. And it’s up to the Blues to manage that by coming out of the fog and realigning themselves. With 27 games remaining on the regular season schedule, it’s time to stop having fun.

A few points of view:

1) Heading into the three New York-area teams over a five-day stretch, the Blues had the seventh-best point percentage in the NHL (.673) and were second to monstrous Colorado in the Western Conference. Should we rate the Blues based on their 52 game pre-road trip work – or go crazy choosing to set the Blues on their 0-2-1 run? I happen to think a large sample of 52 games is more important than a TikTock of three games.

2) The Blues lost to the New York Rangers. I didn’t like how the tourists lost at Madison Square Garden, but the Rangers are a better team than the Blues this season. So is losing by one goal – until time runs out – really such a terrible thing? Les Bleus are expected to do well at home; so why wouldn’t Rangers be expected to do the same.

3) Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders was more irritating. And although the Blues salvaged a point in New Jersey, the 3-2 overtime loss was heartbreaking. Not only did the Blues lose to an inferior team, but the lowly Devils went 1-0-1 against St. Louis this season. That said, here are some friendly tips: beware of false narrative. Although the Blues played at New Jersey’s level in both games, that’s not the norm. The Blues are 10-1-3 against the last eight teams in the league this season. And they are 13-4-3 (.750) against opponents with losing records.

4) The 0-2-1 display caused a lot of anger, and I understand because I got ticked off myself. But playing five-on-five in the last three games combined, the Blues have had more shot attempts, more shots on goal and an equal number of high-risk shots. They were edged one goal (6-5) five-on-five and scored more high-risk goals (3-2) five-on-five. This does not justify failure. I’m just pointing out that all three games were there for the taking; it’s not like the Rangers, Isles and Devils chased them off the ice. The Blues should be blamed for not winning more than one of the possible six points. This is the problem.

5) For all the talk of defensemen, defensemen, defensemen… the Blues have allowed an average of 2.55 goals per 60 minutes five-for-five on the three-game trip. That wasn’t much higher than their season average of 2.33 goals on 60 five-for-five.

6) The Blues lacked the usual fallback security provided by their special teams. Note only had six power plays on the trip and was shut out each time. In the last two games, in NYI and NJ, the Blues have had only three power plays against the home teams’ eight. But it’s always risky to rely on special teams as your primary source of success. The Blues won’t win many games as they’ve only scored five 5v5 goals in three games.

7) Overall, the Blues have scored plenty of goals this season, ranking fifth in the league with an average of 3.49 goals per game. And through March 1, they had averaged 3.85 goals over a 28-game streak. Again: point of view. A drop in goals in three games is undesirable, but the overall performance through 55 games is much more significant.

8) I agree with the critics who say the Blues need to shoot more often. But I’m not sure the fuss over blocked shots is warranted. Yes, the Blues had too many shots blocked (47 in total) by the Rangers and Islanders. But again, let’s take a step back. As I wrote last week and will update now: Even with the Rangers and Isles blocking all those shots, the Blues still have the fifth-lowest blocked shot percentage among the 32 teams this season. That’s a big plus – and a factor in their solid scoring this season. But are the Blues really expected to avoid a high total of blocked shots in every game? It doesn’t work that way. I’d rather point out the low percentage of blocked shot attempts for the whole season instead of freaking out over two games.

9) Monday morning, I checked the interwebs and comment sections to gauge the reaction of Blues fans. Obviously, Ryan O’Reilly was to blame for the 0-2-1 trip. What interests me. In all three games, O’Reilly teamed with David Perron and Brandon Saad for just under 20 minutes in a five-on-five. With that line on the ice at five-on-five, the Blues outshot their opponents 2-0, had 76.4% of shots on goal, 78% of total shot attempts and an expected goal percentage of 85.7. %. Perron (illness) didn’t play Saturday, so O’Reilly centered a line that included Oskar Sundqvist and Saad. The line wasn’t great, but it worked well in 7:04 on five-for-five with a 4-1 advantage on shots on goal – and no goals scored, for or against. And the fan takeaway is jumping all over O’Reilly? Eh.

ten) Not a good trip for the Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko line. In their 23 minutes five-a-side, the Blues were trailed 2-0 and had an expected goalscoring rate of 37.4%.

10a) Probably the worst thing about the 0-2-1 lag was the Blues’ fourth liner play. Don’t these guys understand how they’re supposed to play and what coach Craig Berube expects of them? Well, the call was delivered on Monday when the Blues demoted Klim Kostin and Dakota Joshua to AHL Springfield and promoted Mackenzie MacEachern and Alexei Toropchenko. Yes. Good move. A message movement.

11) This three-game roadie completed a streak in which the Blues would play eight of nine games away from Enterprise Center. The result: a 5-2-2 record, with the Blues outscoring their opponents 32-22 overall and 22-14 at five-to-five. Moreover, the Blues outshot their opponents 18-10 (all strengths) in goal from high-danger areas.

12) Niko Mikkola was, shall we say, a little frantic on the 0-2-1 trip. But in the best spirit of overreaction, some media went wild, using a turbulent three-game streak as proof positive of manager Doug Armstrong’s desperate need for a defender. A couple of things here: (A) the Blues need a defenseman anyway. Even if Mikkola had played well, the Blues would be looking for a defender. And (B) while fired up for no apparent reason, Mikkola struggled for a long stretch that culminated in a nightmarish performance in a 7-1 loss at Calgary on Jan. 27. But in his 12 games since then, Mikkola is +10 with a strong expected goal percentage of 57.9 at five to five. His inexperience will show at times, but it’s ridiculous to go crazy after a few disappointing matches.

13) Underrated Blue: Defenseman Jake Walman. Since returning to use on Jan. 13, Walman has an outstanding 61.8 percent five-for-five expected goal percentage. And he played well with each of his three main defensive partners.

Justin Faulk, 16 mins, 61.9% expected goals pct.
Colton Parayko, 20 mins, 86% x goals pct.
Robert Bortuzzo, 82 mins, 59.1% x goals pct.

Walkman and Torey Krug have only worked 4:49 together but have an expected goal percentage of 66.5%.

14) After the mostly lost weekend in the New York District, he walked away with limited damage to his position in the NHL Central Division. The Blues lost no ground to first-place Colorado. They lost a point in the standings to Minnesota and Nashville. But the most interesting development can be spotted in Dallas. The Stars have won four in a row and are 14-4-1 since Jan. 20. The run improved the Stars’ record to 32-19-3 for the season, and they are tied with Minnesota for third place in the division. with 67 points – just four behind the second-placed Blues. It was the costliest factor in the Blues’ visit to New York; Dallas gained five points over the Blues in the Central standings.

15) Finally: If you think the Blues are getting roughed up after a three-game error, take a look at what they say about the Minnesota Wild in the Twin Cities.

Minnesota has lost eight of 10 games since Feb. 16. On Sunday, the Wild had a one-goal lead on visiting Dallas and lost 6-3.

This prompted some excellent fire writing from beat-writer Michael Russo of The Athletic:

“The plummeting Minnesota Wild’s list of needs before the March 21 trade deadline continues to grow exponentially.

“Remember when a lot of us thought we were one center away from being a real Stanley Cup contender?

“Well, in 10 games, the Wild suddenly look like a team that needs a tough defender to take players out of dirty areas, a group of forwards to redeem Dean Evason’s system, a goalie who isn’t continually giving up grueling goals and a month or two off to clear their extraordinarily fragile minds.

“This once confident, deep, precise and entertaining team is anything but right now and is showing tell-tale signs of frailty at every position to the point that its once-locked playoff spot has become as delicate as its overall game.

“No matter how hard they start, how fast they skate, how hard they hit or what button Evason presses, as soon as one thing goes wrong, the Wild disintegrates into a hundred pieces like ice on a lake at the approach of spring.”

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can stream online or download the “Bernie Show” podcast from – the 590 app works great and is available from your favorite app store. .

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Unless otherwise stated, all statistics used here are from Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, Money Puck and Evolving Hockey.

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