St. Louis Blues preview

The St. Louis Blues have never had a lot of postseason success.

When they first came into the league in the 1960s, they made it to the finals three years in a row, but the league was set up so an expansion team would get to the finals.

Joel Quennville was fired a few years ago for not enough playoff success, but the team hasn’t been back to the postseason since.

Forwards: The Blues are led by a few veteran players. The first is Paul Kariya. He used to be a big-name player, but hasn’t had a big season in about 10 years. His numbers keep decreasing, and he doesn’t have the same impact that he used to.

Keith Tkachuk is another veteran who is a few years past his prime. But he is still good for 20 goals a season, and can help with a leadership ability.

Brad Boyes had probably the quietest 43-goal season in NHL history, easily his best season in the league. The Blues will need him to repeat that feat if they want any chance of making the playoffs.

Defence: The Blues actually have some good depth on defence. Despite missing one of their young players for the season with an injury, they have quite a few capable defencmen. But one of their problems is that they seem to have a defencemen get injured for almost a full season at a time.

Barret Jackman is a former first-round pick. He has a heavy load on his shoulders, as a lot was expected of him after a fine rookie season in 2002-2003.

Eric Brewer is another former first-rounder. He has been a negative player for eight of the nine seasons he has been in the NHL.

Jay McKee is a shot-blocking machine, and will play through pain if needed to. However, he’s getting older and hasn’t played a full season in six years.

Goaltending: The Blues have two quality goaltenders, so it will be interesting to see who has the number one job as the seasons wears on. Chris Mason had an off year last season with Nashville, and is hoping to rebound. Manny Legace has found out that hockey isn’t easy outside of Detroit, but he still puts up decent numbers. Legace should start off as the team’s number one goalie, but he must be aware that Mason is right behind him to pick up the slack if he fails.

Pool picks: Lee Stempniak is due for a breakout season. He scored 27 goals and 51 points a couple of seasons ago, but had only 13 goals and 38 points last year. Look for him to rebound. Stay away from: Andy McDonald. He had two good seasons in Aneheim, but that’s been about it.

Miscellaneous: The Blues will be missing Erik Johnson this season. He is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. That’s not good for the former number one draft pick. The Blues hope he can take the season to heal properly, and not have it impact his long-term outlook too much. Still, it’s a big setback for the player and the organization.

Expected finish: Fifth in the Central division, 14th in the Western conference.

Overall: The Blues is one of those teams that looks like they should be better than they are. But they still struggle season after season, probably because of injuries to their defensive core. The Blues would be the best choice to have a breakout season, but I don’t see that happening.


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