I've been thinking all night about how much the Blues are actually underachieving up to this point in the season, and I think they're right where they should be.
Last year's blistering finish to claim the sixth spot in the playoffs created high expectations for this team, and it gave Blues nation a sense that they had finally arrived. But as great as it was last year to make the playoffs, the Blues were swept in the blink of an eye, and I think they achieved too much too soon, and it skewed the expectations from the organization and the fans.
Right now the Blues are four points out of a playoff spot with 28 games left, plenty of time to secure a playoff spot if they want it bad enough. They're definetly ahead of the pace last year's team set after 54 games.
I think the position the Blues are currently in is a great position to be in, considering the amount of young players they have. I think it's a perfect way to get them accustomed to playing critical games on a nightly basis for the second straight year and they may still be right on track to be one of the top teams in the next few years. But until that point, the Blues young players are learning a great deal by being in a playoff atmosphere night in and night out. If this team was comfortably in the playoffs right now, I think there would be much more pressure on them to maintain a playoff spot rather than fight for one, and I think they would have more trouble staying in the top eight.
When this team finally does come around, and I truly hope they do, I think the young players like Perron, Oshie, Johnson, Berglund, and Polak will take nothing for granted and know just what they've been through to get there. They'll know what it takes to win and to earn your spot in the playoffs. They'll have the mentality that they've been in the cellar and dug themselves out, and can truly say they paid their dues and did their time, just to get to where they are.
Teams that have spent the entire season on top of the conference standings rarely play meaningful games on a nightly basis, and they usually cruise towards the end of the regular season, resting their players for the playoffs in the process. But the Blues have to scratch and claw in every game because they know how much every point means when you're fighting to make the playoffs. I think playing with this type of urgency and pressure right now may make this one heck of a team in the coming years.