Rutherford: Blues Need to Make a Trade to Strengthen Mix of Forwards

Your St. Louis Blues needed some rest and relaxation, especially after the brutal schedule they went through in December up to the current bye week. It’s not an excuse, but it’s one reason, along with a few others, why the Note find them selves in a bit of a rut.

Another reason has been inconsistent play in front of both Jake Allen and Carter Hutton in both zones. Jaden Schwartz’s return will likely help the offensive side, but one probably shouldn’t expect him to be his old self right away upon his (hopefully) return later this month.

Which is why many believe the Blues will be in the market for a forward before the February 26 trade deadline, including our Note insider Jeremy Rutherford.

“I still think the bottom line is they’re going to have to add a piece,” JR recently told The Bernie Miklasz Show. “Even with Jaden Schwartz, even with Jake Allen playing better, even with the team rested…This team is still missing something in the mix of the forwards and Doug Armstrong’s going to have to find that via trade.”

One (hopefully) good thing about the unforgiving schedule is the Note will have an easier go as the months turn warmer to coincide with returning players (Schwartz and Zach Sanford).

“I really do think the schedule caught up to them,” Rutherford said. “I think losing Jaden Schwartz obviously caught up to them. When you put those two together and you throw in the fact their starting goaltender hasn’t been good for a long stretch here, I think this is the result you can expect.

“I think they are a better team than what they’ve shown,” he added. “Are they as good as they were early in the year? You’d like to say so because they proved it, but they’ve got to prove it for a long stretch and that’s going to be more difficult in the playoffs.”

Allen’s ‘got to be better’

It’s been rough watching Jake Allen win just one of his past nine starts, but thank golly Carter Hutton has answered the bell in that span. Actually ‘answering the bell’ is an understatement, as the backup has put up league leading numbers.

So while the Blues weren’t playing well in front of either netminder, Hutton’s genius has masked his skaters’ underwhelming performances. Allen hasn’t done the same.

“(Allen) was playing okay, but obviously not as well as Carter Hutton. What we have to keep in mind is no goalie in hockey is playing as well as Carter Hutton,” JR said. “So, while you do measure Jake Allen against him, Carter Hutton has the best numbers in the league right now.

“I think it gets to a point where even if the play in front of him isn’t great, it’s just indefensible when you look at the numbers and see that he’s 1-8 in his last nine appearances with a 3.39 goals against average and an .896 save percentage,” he added.

Even if Allen’s problem is more between the ears than anything, Rutherford added the Note’s hands are likely tied when it comes time to name their first starter out of the bye.

“And I really do think that even though he’s going to have a chance to reset himself during this five days off…Perhaps he does come back refreshed and ready to go, but I think they’re going to have to go with Carter Hutton.”

You can hear JR’s entire chat below. Stay tuned to 101ESPN and for plenty of Blues coverage and analysis as the season cruises on.

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