Has Scandella replaced Sanford?
Last season, the Blues faced adversity almost from day one. While many thought St. Louis could challenge for the Honda Western Division title, the losses mounted up. Just like every fan base, we all look for somewhere to pin the blame. In 2021, Zach Sanford was the culprit. This season Marco Scandella has taken his place.
While no one player is ever completely responsible for a win or a loss, many fans always look to a single play or misstep to conclude why a mark went into one of the three columns on an NHL standings chart. There is never just one play that sums up why a game ends the way it did, but we always seem to find one.
During the 2020-21 season, even the most casual of fans dissected Sanford’s play. I even had moments where I no longer wanted him to play. In his article on March 6th, 2021 for the St. Louis Fan Report, wrote, “So often, when the Blues really need a big goal, No. 12 [Sanford] is right there. Three of his goals this season have been game-winners.”
“In his 22 games so far this year, Sanford has 10 points – eighth on the team. He has notched a respectable 7 goals with 3 helpers while averaging 15:38 of ice time.”
Last season Sanford played in 52 games. He was 11th in points with 16 (10G, 6A) and a minus -13. Sanford failed both the eye test and the numbers test. However, as Staggenborg noted, he had moments of greatness, surrounded by epic failures.
We could be seeing the opposite with Scandella.
Scandella and the eye test
In a recent post in the Facebook Group “All Blues Everything” one poster, Bradley Smith (who is not a fan of this site or this writer) wrote, “I’m so overjoyed to see the Blues keep rolling and lots of help is on the way with injury replacements! My question is, can the Blues find a taker to dump Scandella’s salary? Maybe package a draft pick to get some bottom feeding team to take him on? The Blues crushed it last night, but you could see on the only goal they allowed Marco got shoved to the ice easily leading to it. Not being negative, just hoping when Perunovich comes back we healthy scratch Marco and hopefully lose him permanently!”
He posted it on December 17th after the Blues 4-1 victory against the Dallas Stars. This is the kind of post you see in most of the fan groups. The biggest problem with it is it misses so much of the undercurrent of the game? I am a big proponent of the “Eye and Ear Test.” I like to listen to the game as much as I watch it and I think what you see and hear tells more of a story than the raw numbers do. However, sometimes the numbers lie in a good way.
With Sanford he failed both of these tests along with the numbers test. Scandella not so much. While many might think he is failing the eye test, I think he is passing both the ear test and the numbers test.
A response to Smiths’ post by Jennifer Leady stated “So you blame a guy who got hit to the ice for a goal?” This was a good observation by her. Scandella was knocked down by Stars’ pain in the tush Jamie Benn. This tweet from the Dallas Stars about the goal clearly shows that. What it also shows, is that the goal scorer Jason Robertson was not Scandella’s man, Benn was. Someone else blew the assignment.
Right place, right time.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 18, 2021
Do Numbers Lie?
On Smiths’ post, I knew I should not, but I made the following statement, “One of the things that rails (sic) me up is when fans only look at the surface and don’t try to see the undercurrent of the game. Scandella does a lot more than you think but you appear to be blind to see it”
Smith’s response, which also triggered this piece, was “Guy Bensing ok then explain these things that he does so well! And it “rails me up” when fans write nonsensical columns just to get a few clicks to make a few pennies. Not sure if you know anyone like that?”
Good question, so let us look at the numbers. The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that he is leading the team in short handed ice time with 67:48. He is second in average SH ice time by one second behind Bortuzzo’s 2:12. The Blues PK is the eighth-best in the league and is the best in the central division. Over the last eight games the Blues Pk has been the best in the league allowing one goal in the last 19 attempts, 94.7%.
During the Blues’ last loss, to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, Scandella was not on the ice for any of the four goals the team allowed. He was on the ice for 3:04 of the 5:08 the team was on the kill. Winnipeg was one for three, and Scandella was not on the ice for that goal. St. Louis has allowed one Power Play goal since the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 2nd.
Scandella had 22 shifts for 13:11 of ice time. He had no points and was even to go along with one shot, four hits, two give-aways, and one shot-block.
Scandella, the defenseman that makes all the mistakes, is a plus +3 tied for third among the Blues D-men. He is third on the team in shifts per game at 27.5 while being sixth in ice time at 18:18. He comes in fourth in points among the defense with six (1G, 5A) and is one of four players to play every game for the Blues this season. The others are Colton Parayko, Barbashev and Tarasenko.
In the last eight games, Scandella has averaged 17:52 minutes per game. He has recorded 7 hits and 9 blocks. the negative that fans may be seeing and focusing on is his 9 giveaways tied for most on the team. His 3.77 giveaway per 60 (Gva/60) is the second-highest on the team. While he has the nine give-aways, he is still a plus +4 in those games.
Yes, Scandella makes mistakes, so do all the players. But to pin individual losses on him is asinine. This is a team game and while a good deal may see Scandella as the weakest link, I don’t. He is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part that may be a bit worn, but it is serving its purpose and helping the entire machine that is the Blues move forward.
Ohh and since the holidays are upon us, I think this is a great way to leave you this week.
From our entire St. Louis Blues family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season. pic.twitter.com/MUTu3YOR9R
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 21, 2021
Till next time hockey fans,
Guy “Hawaii Hockey Fan” Bensing