LeBrun: Extreme NHL streaking, why coaches take the blame and more with Blues GM

In the immortal words of Frank the Tank: “We’re going streaking!”

New slogan for the St. Louis Blues this season?

They were 3-0 to start the season, then lost eight straight (all in regulation) and now have pulled off seven consecutive victories.

Do you think KFC is still open? OK, enough with the “Old School” lines.

But seriously, how do we make sense of such a streaky team or the number of other streaks going on across the NHL this season — from Calgary and Edmonton to Chicago and Pittsburgh?

“I personally see a lot of that around the league right now,” veteran Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told The Athletic on Wednesday morning. “The dynamics of the league have changed, where the detailed part of defending leads and clock management are not what they were in the past.

“I think with younger players, the skill level has never been higher, and the game management has probably taken a step back.”

It’s a fascinating way to think about what we’re seeing. No question, the NHL is a younger league than in the past, and I would argue it’s also more loaded with skill, but to Armstrong’s point, it’s also the kind of skill that thinks offense first in many cases before the defensive part gets honed.

“It’s great for the fans,” Armstrong said. “It’s always exciting. But it’s a different brand of hockey.”

As he says, people of his vintage aren’t quite used to it. And I’m with him there, as a 50-year-old hockey scribe. This isn’t the NHL I started covering 28 years ago (and that’s OK). There’s a certain way hockey people have always been used to when it comes to puck management to protect a lead, etc.

“The team that I enjoy watching the most this season, and I was lucky to see their first game of the year, is Boston,” Armstrong said. “I saw them play Washington. The Bruins are so structured and they’re so detailed and their best players are their best puck-management players. They’re just a joy to watch.

“Because they play to get the lead, and then they play to extend the lead, and they also play to make sure they don’t give the other team hope. And that’s a rarity right now in the game.”

And, again, as Armstrong said, this all leads to a fun brand of hockey to watch for fans. No question about it.

“It is entertaining,” he said. “A two-goal lead used to be: ‘Turn the lights out.’ And I understand players wanting to make it a three-goal lead. But when it doesn’t go that way, it’s a one-goal lead and then you’re just an empty-netter away from being tied.

“I see veteran players now getting sucked into that vortex.”

Fascinating thoughts from a GM who has been around a long time. And I mean, there’s no turning back the clock. The direction of the NHL is about youth and skill, and…

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Read More: LeBrun: Extreme NHL streaking, why coaches take the blame and more with Blues GM 2022-11-23 21:37:25

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