Last Season – With a mid-season coaching change to bring in Ken Hitchcock, the St. Louis Blues were the surprise of the NHL with a 49-22-11 record and 109 points for the #2 seed in the West. They beat the Sharks in the first round before being swept by the LA Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Ready to Step In – Vladimir Tarasenko is a highly offensive player who will bring instant scoring to St. Louis. How he fits in with Hitchcock’s style remains to be seen, but will be interesting nonetheless.
Look For A Bounce-back Season From – Chris Stewart had back to back 28 goal seasons and over 50 points in each, before last seasons 15 goal-30 point effort. Is it the case of fitting into a system or is it a telling drop in production from a player who was surprising people with his offense? That question will be answered this season, which happens to be a contract year.
Upside – With the expected addition of Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, the Blues will get more talented and deeper.
Downside – Can the goaltending duo of Elliott and Jaroslav Halak really duplicate last season’s success, that ended with the duo sharing the William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against? Hitchcok’s system is partly responsible, but botton line, they made the saves last season. There is a track record of streakiness for both players, and the advantage is that if one is slumping, there isn’t much drop in skill to the other.
2013 Prognosis – The Blues won’t sneak up on anyone this year. They probably won’t have to. While they won’t have anyone in the top 10 in scoring, they are balanced with a nice blend of leadership and youth up front and also a balance of offense and defense on the blue line. If both goaltenders don’t hit the skids at the same time, it could be a President’s Trophy in St. Louis. Then will come the test in the playoffs, where they will have something to prove.