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Blues have too many weapons for offense to remain slow

Blues
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

The St. Louis Blues have a goal scoring problem. Despite carrying a roster that includes offensive forces such as Vladamir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, the club has struggled to find the back of the net through the first month of the NHL’s regular season.

In five of their last six contests, the Blue have been held to one goal or less. The only exception came on October 22–a 6-4 win against the Calgary Flames.

That’s a staggering statistic, and their 22 goals on the season have them sitting in the bottom-third of the league’s offenses. Squads such as the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets are lighting the lamp more frequently, and things look even worse in St. Louis if you cut out that Flames game.

To make matters worse, the Blues aren’t getting  much help from their bottom two lines either. Only four goals have been scored by the bottom-six and the fourth line of Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Reaves has generated just one assist combined to this point of the season.

Strangely, the Blues’ scoring woes haven’t translated to issues in the standings just yet. Despite the pop-gun offense, St. Louis is still sitting at 5-2-2. That’s not a bad record for a team that is struggling to find the back of the net more than one time in any given game.

They are only one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the lead in the Central Division, and actually still have a positive goal differential (plus-one) through nine games.

How you view the next few weeks of Blues games will largely depend on whether you’re a glass-half-full person or a glass-half-empty person.

The goals have to start coming for this team sooner or later. They are playing with fire and leaning on goaltending way too heavily so far, but we’re only a few weeks into the regular season and there’s reason to believe they can turn the offense around.

23 MAY 2016: St. Louis Blues center Robby Fabbri (15) takes a shot and scores against the San Jose Sharks during game 5 of the Western Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. (Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

23 MAY 2016: St. Louis Blues center Robby Fabbri (15) takes a shot and scores against the San Jose Sharks during game 5 of the Western Conference Final. (Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

Forwards like Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera aren’t going to be stuck on zero goals for much longer, and the third line has looked strong in the team’s last few contests.

Fabbri and Nail Yakupov, in particular, seem to be forming some strong chemistry, and that in turn should lead to more chances for that unit.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that this is an organization that saw a good deal of turnover this summer. While we agree with the choice to let David Backes and Troy Brouwer leave as free agents, those two veterans provided a substantial amount of sturdy play down the stretch for St. Louis. Both forwards skated with a bit of tenacity, and they combined for 39 goals last season.

Losing your No. 2 and No. 3 leading scorers is tough, and that’s the situation the Blues are in right now. They have the horses needed to pull out of this rut, it’s just a matter of some of the younger options stepping up their collective games. This is an offense that still has a lot to give, though.

Yakupov is still settling in after arriving from the Edmonton Oilers via trade, and he could very well replace Backes’ 21 goals himself once he gets going. Fabbri is also a wonderfully talented forward and should be able to improve on the 18 goals he scored in 2015-16.

David Perron is also a new addition to the team, and while a familiar face, he’s still getting used to his linemates and their tendencies. He has three goals on the year, but they all came in the 6-4 win against the Flames earlier this month. If he can find some consistency, it would be a boon for St. Louis.

The same goes for Jaden Schwartz, who missed a majority of last season due to injury. He’s posted two points in five games so far, but is an electric talent. Once he finds his game, the Blues will have yet another forward capable of taking over shifts with his skill and speed.

There are plenty of pieces in place for the Blues, and there’s no reason to believe that this offense won’t get going in the coming weeks. The numbers are bound to go their way eventually as well. To this point, St. Louis has only converted on 6.59 percent of their shots during five-on-five play. Meanwhile, the Wild have scored on nearly 14 percent of their shots, yet they’ve barely managed to pull ahead of the Blues in the standings.

These numbers will normalize as games are played, and St. Louis’ strong possesion game–currently the sixth best in the league–ensures that the shots will keep coming. It might be difficult, but Blues fans should stay patient with this group. The goals will come in due time.

Franklin Steele is the assistant editor and featured writer of FanRag Sports' NHL side. He also covers the WWE for FRSSLAM.com. Steele, who joined FanRag Sports in October 2013, has been watching and playing hockey since the age of 6. His work has also appeared on TheHockeyWriters.com, FanSided.com and Bleacher Report. All told, he has more than 3,000 bylines to his name and more than six million people have read his work since 2011. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @FranklinSteele (NHL) and @SteeleTheHeel (WWE).

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