What we learned the past week in the NHL
Lessons learned from the last week of play in the NHL:
St. Louis Blues hit tipping point
The struggling Blues left goaltender Jake Allen home when they played at Winnipeg on Saturday and gave minor leaguer Pheonix Copley his first NHL start. Copley wasn’t bad but the Blues allowed the Jets to score three power-play goals in a 5-3 defeat. The Blues have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time this season and have dropped out of the top three in the Central Division.
General Manager Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week leaving Allen at home “is not a huge story, he’s going to take a day to get a reset with his family.”
It is big because the Blues traded Brian Elliott to Calgary last summer and designated Allen their starter but Allen (2.85 goals-against average, .897 save percentage) isn’t getting the job done.
Prey no longer
The Nashville Predators are beginning to resemble the team they were expected to become when they acquired dynamic defenseman P.K. Subban from Montreal. After a slow start that was complicated by losing Subban to an upper-body injury for 16 games, they’ve moved into a playoff position in the Central Division. They’ve won three straight games and six of their last seven, with Filip Forsberg scoring the winner three times on their just-completed five-game trip.
High-scoring games buck low-scoring trend
The average number of goals per game has stayed below 5.5 since the 2009-10 season, which makes recent “goalfests” stand out. Columbus defeated Ottawa, 7-6, in overtime Sunday, the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals each won by a 7-3 count last week, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins, 6-5, in a shootout Wednesday, the Dallas Stars beat the New York Rangers, 7-6, last Tuesday, and the Pittsburgh Penguins outslugged the Capitals, 8-7, last Monday.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle attributed those scores to the condensed schedule.
“I don’t think that people can play the number of games in the short time frame and not have inconsistencies in their games,” he said. “I think everybody’s in the same boat. I think if you asked every coaching staff that there are some games where whatever you do out there has gone out the window. The execution level. The position level. All of the things that you work hard to put in place seem to go out the window….They go out the window for a game, and then it’s [time] to reset. That is probably the biggest issues with coaches: You don’t have practice time.”
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
Times correspondent Curtis Zupke contributed to this report.
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