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Blues clearly stand alone as NHL’s top team (for now)

Mar 9, 2012, 12:07 AM EDT

Alex Pietrangelo, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith AP

Considering the Detroit Red Wings’ history-making home streak and how bad most of the Southeast Division teams have been on the road, the following observation might surprise you:

You could argue that no team could gain as much from home ice advantage as much as the St. Louis Blues.

Blues bold at home

Blame it on the advantage of line changes and matchups at home, the inconsistency of a young roster or any other factor as much as you’d like, the Blues are an elite team at home  (28-4-4) and average (15-14-3) on the road.

The good and the bad

The team’s potential home dependence is the bad news – especially since they’re just a stride or two ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the Central Division crown.

The good news is that St. Louis currently sits atop the entire NHL with 93 points after beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 tonight, leaving them two points ahead of the East-leading New York Rangers. (The Blueshirts do have two games in hand, so don’t give the Blues the Presidents Trophy just yet.)

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Considering the fact that Ken Hitchcock took over as the season was already in action, it’s tough to truly gauge the Blues’ power. Are they absolutely elite, maybe in the second tier or perhaps not as good as they seem on paper? Feel free to share your thoughts on the rising upstarts in the comments.

  1. musigma45 - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    A 15-4-3 record on the road is 33 out of 44 possible points or 75%. How is that “not elite”?

    • James O'Brien - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      15-14-3, actually. (Fixed.)

      • musigma45 - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:19 AM

        Ok, I wasn’t sure if you were talking about a statistical split I wasn’t aware of or their overall. :)

        A 15-14-3 mark is not elite, I agree. However, if you take away Payne’s 3-6-0 away record they’re 12-8-3 or 27 out of 46 points, basically 59% of the points possible instead of 51.5%. Sign enough, especially of late, that they’re getting better.

        Still, the ability to win on the road is a big concern. Just not as big as it once was.

      • James O'Brien - Mar 9, 2012 at 1:07 AM

        Interesting points. The Blues make an already quality-saturated West that much more brutal. Almost makes me wonder if that conference will batter itself to the point that the East will have a freshness advantage?

  2. paledevil - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    The Blues are playing like an all pro offensive line with a franchise running back….

  3. eggserino - Mar 9, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Let’s keep in mind that four of the top six home records lie in the central division. The fact that the Blues have to play these teams more often absolutely skews their road record. Take, for example, their dominance over eastern conference teams. If I remember correctly, they have only lost about three games total to eastern conference teams. Pretty solid record…

    • danphipps01 - Mar 9, 2012 at 4:21 AM

      Wow. Take that in combination with musgima’s point about Payne’s road numbers versus Hitch’s and you have to wonder if they’re the real deal already. I wasn’t expecting them to be a top-tier contender ’till next year, but I’m beginning to think I need to revise that statement based on what we know today… they’re scary good this year.

  4. 8man - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    This team has really been ignored for much of the year. Well, they are going to the playoffs and if they win, there won’t be many other teams to talk about.

    Western Conference Playoffs could be brutal!

  5. cmutimmah - Mar 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Blues have been better because they got Elliot out of goal. He’s a decent goalie that’s numbers are skewed by Hitchcock’s system… but who would you rather have under pressure… Halak or Elliot?

    Halak has came up and made timely saves all year. (And this is coming from a Wings fan)

    • paperlions - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      No, the Blues have been better because they got Perron and McDonald back from concussions, which has made the offense much more dangerous, and because they are a young team with guys that are improving at both ends of the ice under Hitch’s tutelage.

  6. leeo00 - Mar 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    If you go back and look at some of the blues loses half of them come from back to back games usually the third game in four night, i think it adds up to 9 loses on a back to back nights coming from teams like, Nashville 2, Detroit 2, Chicago 2 and the Canucks 1 .To me those are game that the best of the best are going to lose, so that in mind i think they mean business . for being in the the top five or even three for the good part of the second half of the season they have been treated very unfair by the news sites. they talk more about teams that don’t even have a chance in the playoffs than talk about them. I think its time to give them some well earned credit.

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