• PRINT
  • RSS

How the Blues Clinched a Playoff Spot

Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 8:25 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


How the Blues Clinched a Playoff Spot
The St. Louis Blues began the 2011-12 season 6-7-0 and fired their coach. Now they have become the first team to clinch a place in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs -- they assured themselves of a trip to the postseason by beating Tampa Bay 3-1 on Saturday night.

How did the Blues engineer such a remarkable turnaround? Here are a few reasons:

1. Ken Hitchcock found the right team: The Blues proved to be a perfect fit for the style Hitchcock wants his teams to play. There are a lot of guys willing to work, but also enough skill to make the Blues dangerous at the offensive end. Hitchcock might not win the Jack Adams Award, but only because pundits incorrectly pegged Ottawa as a lottery team. He has transformed the Blues into an elite team.

2. The best goalie tandem in hockey: Brian Elliott had a terrible 2010-11 and was probably one more bad year from being out of the League. Jaroslav Halak was just OK in his first season with the Blues. Both have had huge bounce-back seasons. Elliott was fantastic early -- even before Hitchcock arrived and transformed the team -- while Halak has been the best goaltender on the planet in 2012. Halak is 18-3-1 in 23 starts with five shutouts since Jan. 1, and he's allowed a total of 33 goals in that stretch.

The Blues overcame a 6-7-0 start to the season and became the first team in the NHL to clinch a 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff berth. (Getty Images)
3. Dominance at even strength: The Blues have scored 128 goals at even strength (5-on-5 and 4-on-4), which as a stand-alone stat is not that significant -- it ranks them 24th in the League. But they have yielded only 89 goals at even strength, which is by far the fewest in the NHL -- no other team is within 20. St. Louis has the second-best ratio at 5-on-5 behind only division rival Detroit. The best eight teams at that statistic -- Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, N.Y. Rangers, Vancouver, Philadelphia, San Jose and Pittsburgh -- are a pretty good indicator of either a) elite teams or b) teams that should be elite, but have had some bad luck and/or injuries.

4. GM Doug Armstrong got the best player in a megadeal: It is fair to say both Chris Stewart and Erik Johnson, the principals in a blockbuster deal between St. Louis and Colorado last season, have had disappointing seasons for their respective teams. But defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, the "second" guy added in the deal for St. Louis, has been phenomenal for the Blues. He has nine goals, 37 points and leads the St. Louis defense corps in on-ice plus-minus per 60 minutes at even strength, according to the site Behind the Net. Shattenkirk is also third in the NHL in that category behind only the Detroit pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White. Shattenkirk has been on the ice for 46 goals for and only 21 against at even strength.

5. Much improved penalty-killing: Earlier in the season, the Blues were surviving on their dominant play at even strength while the special teams lagged far behind. The power play has been a little better, especially since Andy McDonald returned from a concussion, but the big improvement has come on the penalty kill. St. Louis recently erased 51 straight power plays, two short of the NHL record. The Blues are now seventh in the League on the PK at 84.5 percent.

6. Natural progression, with a dash of improved health: The Blues have been building toward being a contender for a while and probably should have made the playoffs last season. Alex Pietrangelo has blossomed into one of the best young defensemen in the League -- a group that also includes Shattenkirk. Nearly all of the top forwards, including David Backes, David Perron, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Stewart are still young -- Backes is the greybeard of that group at 27. Perron returned after missing nearly 100 games with a concussion, and Oshie missed 33 games last season as well. The Blues have lost Alex Steen for months because of a concussion, but in general they have been much healthier this season.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 77 37 36 27 73
A. Steen 74 24 40 8 64
J. Schwartz 75 28 35 13 63
D. Backes 80 26 32 7 58
T. Oshie 72 19 36 17 55
P. Stastny 74 16 30 5 46
A. Pietrangelo 81 7 39 -2 46
J. Lehtera 75 14 30 21 44
K. Shattenkirk 56 8 36 19 44
P. Berglund 77 12 15 -2 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 26 14 3 .917 2.26
J. Allen 22 7 4 .913 2.28

 
TICKETS
Single Game Tickets
Full Season
Half Season
12-Game Plans
Group Tickets
Luxury Suites
STH Portal
NHL Ticket Exchange
View From Your Seat

TEAM
Roster
In the System
Coaches
Front Office
Blues History
All-Time Player Roster
Chicago Wolves
Alaska Aces

SCHEDULE
Preseason
Regular Season
Schedule Downloads
Promotions Schedule

STATS
Player Stats
League Standings

NEWS
News
Features
Blues Overtime Blog

VIDEO
Video Channels
Game Highlights

GameDay

SOCIAL
Find a Player
Facebook
Twitter
Mobile App
E-mail Subscriptions

FANS
Hot Deals for Cool Fans
Photo Galleries
License Plates

COMMUNITY
Blues in the Community
Blues 14 Fund
50/50 Raffle Numbers

SHOP
Online Store
Blues Auctions
True Blues Authentics

stlouisblues.com is the official Web site of the St Louis Blues. St Louis Blues, stlouisblues.com and stlblues.com are trademarks of the St Louis Blues Hockey Club. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 St. Louis Blues Hockey Club and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

PRIVACY POLICY | ADCHOICES | TERMS OF USE | EMPLOYMENT & INTERNSHIPS | CONTACT US