The Blues went into the “Music City” tonight and were able to leave with a victory. After falling behind 3-2 in the second period, they battled back to tie the game in the third before eventually taking the contest in a shootout. Wait, what was that last part?
The Blues were one of the worst teams in the league last season in shootouts. The team lost each of its first five shootouts in the 2011-2012 campaign before finally notching a win against Minnesota on January 14th. That’s right; it took the Blues half a season to win a shootout last year.
Although it did take until January 21st this season to snag a shootout victory, it comes only two games into the season. As of today, the team that went 4-10 last year in shootouts is undefeated in them this time around. Perhaps most important is that the team may be able to keep that trend going.
The Blues’ goaltenders were never the problem in shootouts. When they lost, the scores were usually 1-0 or 2-1. Had they receive a little more offensive support, the goalies could have won several of the shootouts they ended up losing.
If Elliott’s performance tonight is any indication, the goalies should continue being good in the shootout. Elliott absolutely robbed Craig Smith with the glove and then made Martin Erat’s five-hole shot look like nothing. There’s no reason to believe that Elliott cannot continue stopping shooters.
The real question is whether or not the Blues’ shooters can continue to score. Oshie and Steen were the shooters tonight, and both of them used forehand to backhand dekes that made Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne look stupid. If that can continue, then the shootout victories could begin to pile up.
Confidence is very important when it comes to shootouts. Last year’s Blues won all 4 of their shootouts in a five game span (the only loss being to an offensive dynamo in Pittsburgh). That being said, they lost five in a row to start the year, and four in a row to end it.
If the Blues can build on tonight’s victory, they could be successful in shootouts early on this season. As we have discussed before, getting off to a good start in any area will be great for teams in this mini season. Consistently picking up two points instead of one could be huge for the Blues.
Shootout losses cost the Blues a President’s Trophy last season. Had they won a few more shootouts, they would have been the number one team in the league. There is no reason this season has to be the same.
The 2013 Blues can go out and win a few more shootouts. They can be the best team in the league. Believe it or not, those extra points in shootouts can make it a lot easier to bring home a Stanley Cup.