The 2014-15 season is almost upon us. Training camps will be starting around the NHL and pretty soon the puck will drop for real in a hockey arena near you. If you’re a Blues fan, what stories should you be following at the start of a new season? I’ve already touched on a couple of them in an earlier article, but here’s a more complete list.
The Tom Stillman era has introduced fans to accurate attendance reports. While that’s good, it’s also bad because it revealed just how troubling attendance is in St. Louis. Last year started off horribly, with the team posting some dismal totals through their first five home games. Things didn’t improve after 10 home games. The first crowd above 19,150 didn’t arrive until the 20th home game of the season. Will this story repeat itself in 2014-15?
Unfortunately, it almost always comes down to the Cardinals factor. A playoff baseball game trumps hockey in St. Louis. After spending a fortune to land Paul Stastny, the Blues can’t afford to have attendance stagger out of the gate. They need a solid crowd each and every night.
I’ve already asked what will happen should the Brian Elliott/Allen experiment fail (Who is Plan C?), but this topic is purely centered on Allen. Specifically, I’ll be fascinated to see what happens out of the gate and how much time Allen will see behind Elliott. Should we expect 5-10 starts over the first 20 games? More? Less? The answer will all depend on Elliott’s success, but it’ll be fascinating to see how the split will work out following camp.
Will a change in coaches reverse the Blues’ fortunes on the power-play? One can only hope. I suppose it can’t get much worse, but maybe now we’ll see some creativity instead of the usual pass to the point, shoot into the opponent’s leg strategy.
With the addition of the new home uniform, will the Blues wear their alternates less at home? A safe guess is that they’ll initially wear the new look almost exclusively out of the gate with the hope of boosting sales, but we’ll have to see how that pans out.
The hype around Lehtera has been growing for months. Will he be able to live up to the increasing expectations? How will his game translate to the NHL? I’m being overly cautious with my hopes/expectations for Lehtera as I feel he may take some time to adjust. He may very well explode out of the gate, but I’d rather keep my personal expectations within reason as to avoid disappointment.
Speaking of big expectations …
Will Stastny boost the Blues offense right away, or will it take time? It wouldn’t be surprising if Stastny pressed too hard in the early going and stumbled in the early stages of 2014-15. The Blues have put a ton of faith in him (rightfully so), but he – like Lehtera – may need some time to adjust to his surroundings and teammates.