The St. Louis Blues might be first overall in the NHL, but it’s safe to say they don’t lead the league in high-flying entertainment.
The Blues boast a 1.86 goals-against average and could become the first team since the 1955-56 Montreal Canadiens to finish with a GAA below 2.00. They’re also one of the few teams whose games average fewer than five goals.
Wins are wins, however, and St. Louis has 39 of them since coach Davis Payne was fired on Nov. 6 and defensive-minded Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench.
“They work so well together,” GM Doug Armstrong told the Globe and Mail, describing his team under Hitchcock. “The neutral zone, it’s like seaweed.”
Globe writer Eric Duhatschek calls that “a good analogy, but also a grim way of looking at how they play the game.”
It also begs the questions, is the Blues’ success good for the NHL? Because it’s pretty tough to market a brand of hockey that’s “like seaweed.” (All-you-can-eat sushi nights?)
The Blues’ success is good for the Blues though. Yesterday the team announced it was raising ticket prices 9.8 percent, a move that (by our math) could raise regular-season revenue by over $3 million if current attendance remains consistent. And then there’s all the additional playoff revenue that comes with a winning team.
The risk is more and more franchises, particularly those with limited budgets that can’t afford superstar scorers, copy the Blues’ style and we end up in another dead-puck era.