With a rash of injuries to their forward corps, the St. Louis Blues are struggling badly heading into the playoffs. Can they right the ship in time?
Don’t look now, but the projected Stanley Cup-contender St. Louis Blues are struggling. Badly.
The Blues have hit the skids hard and limp into the playoffs with six straight losses. And while they haven’t been terrible in all of those games, they've been crippled by injuries to some of their more important forwards.
Derek Roy has been battling injuries and got banged up again against Detroit on Sunday.
Patrik Berglund left Friday’s game with a shoulder injury.
Winger Vladimir Tarasenko is still recovering from hand surgery.
T.J. Oshie is still hurting after getting clocked by Mike Rupp of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, Vladimir Sobotka is nursing a lower-body injury and Brenden Morrow and David Backes are both dealing with foot problems.
At this time of year, no one would dare whisper “broken foot” around either Backes or Morrow, but taking a slapshot to the foot is never good. Even if they rush a return for the playoffs, it’s hard to play through a foot injury.
It’s all bad news for the Blues. Those seven forwards accounted for 114 of the team’s 248 goals this season. That’s 45 percent of their offense, and they’re clearly missing the contributions.
Even when those guys play through injury - as Roy did Sunday - the Blues just can't put the puck in the net. St. Louis hasn’t scored more than two goals in a game since March 27 against Minnesota. In the nine games since, they’ve been shut out four times (including a 1-0 shootout win against Philadelphia).
Heading into the playoffs, they'll need to find a way to score to beat the powerful Chicago Blackhawks - a matchup they could have easily avoided by picking up a few points in their last six games.
And prized trade deadline acquisition Ryan Miller hasn’t been great, either. He got the hook Thursday against the Wild after allowing four goals on 13 shots and has let in 18 goals in his last five games.
St. Louis fans actually broke out the sarcastic cheers for Miller when he made a save in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.
Maybe the Blues will tighten up and turn their game around. Ken Hitchcock has been coaching a playoff style all year, and the Blues are built for post-season play.
But with so many important pieces on the shelf, the St. Louis Blues may not last long into the spring.