Well here we are at the end of a rollercoaster season. A season with a lot of promise built around our future stars, the signing of Paul Kariya, and a strong finish from the year before. The Blues started off hot thanks to the all-star play of Manny Legace and everyone felt the Blues were on their way back to the playoffs. Blues hockey was back in full force in St. Louis as Brad Boyes was becoming a household name for those fans that had no idea what we pulled on Boston.
Fast forward to April and here they sit in 28th place vying for a draft pick. Surely this has to be a step in the wrong direction…well in some ways yes and other ways no.
Yes it’s a step in the wrong direction because the Blues are going to finish with fewer points than a year ago. During the second half of the season it felt like the power play had more goals against than for. Paul Kariya did not play like the superstar the Blues needed. The Blues surplus of goaltending vanished as Toivenen had a poor year in the NHL while Schwarz had a poor year in the AHL. Andy Murray now has his dissenters as he was unable to continue the success he brought the second half of last season for the entire year this season. All are valid reasons for cause for concern.
No it’s not a step in the wrong direction because the Blues PK was in the top 6 in the league all year. Erik Johnson and David Perron both showed flashes of greatness. David Backes is turning into a great power forward and of course Manny Legace has been rock solid for most of the year. The reason the Blues are missing the playoffs is lack of scoring. They have the second lowest average shots per game and the most OT losses in the league. Combine that with their 11 1-goal losses and you will see how different things could have been. The Blues could potentially be adding budding prospect TJ Oshie from the University of North Dakota as well as center Patrik Berglund. While both are unproven at the NHL level it would be a step toward the youth movement which can only be construed as a good thing for this organization. The Blues also will have another high draft pick this year as they are guaranteed to finish in the bottom 5. The Blues ownership group is second to none. John Davidson is the most passionate president the Blues have had in a long time. His displeasure was caught on camera during a recent game where the Blues had nothing but pride to play for. The city of St. Louis bleeds blue once again. Local sports shows are talking hockey more than in recent years, and just last week the Blues had yet another sellout despite their poor play and no hope for the playoffs. The fans are back and that is the most important thing to the success of a franchise.
While the Blues are missing the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year and there is some cause for concern about the future of this club, I believe there are a lot of positives when you consider the long term. The state of Blues hockey is strong here in St. Louis and if we stay on course we are going to finally lift the cup.