Cause for Optimism
The 2009-10 seasons feels a long way off, but the Blues and Blues’ fans have a lot to look forward to. With the Stanley Cup Finals just about to be completed, it seems as if the Blues were rudely knocked out of the playoffs ages ago. Fans like myself were obviously disappointed as the Canucks swept the Blues, but lets not forget what the team accomplished in 2008-09.
I think the picture to the left says it all. The Blues made the playoffs when no one anticipated for them to do so. They didn’t just squeak in, they finished 6th with a solid 92 points. The Blues had the best record in all of the NHL in the second half going 25-9-7. No one expected the Blues to make it, so the fact they did was reason to celebrate as is. Unfortunately, they looked overwhelmed against Vancouver as the vast majority of the team were experiencing their first exposure of playoff hockey.
Of course, after any team gets knocked out of the playoffs the chants of “Always next year” ring out. For the Blues however, this sentiment fits well as they have built a huge collection of reasons to be optimistic heading into 2009-10. Below are my personal reasons to be excited for next year.
Return of Key Players
Arguably the best Blues’ players hardly logged any ice time in 2008-09. As everyone knows, Erik Johnson, the Blues #1 pick in 2006 missed the entire year thanks to an encounter with a golf cart which resulted in a torn ACL. The golf cart clearly won the encounter, but Johnson hopefully will have the last laugh as he looks to return 100% for the Blues in 2009-10. He was a force from the blue line in 2007-08, chipping in 33 points. His return will add to the wealth of young talent the Blues already send out on the ice.
Elite left winger Paul Kariya only skated in 11 games for the Note last season, but still contributed 15 points. He made great strides in his recovery from hip surgery and nearly made an appearance in the playoffs, but should be set to go for the ’09-’10 season. Kariya gives the Blues an experienced goal scorer and a much more lethal powerplay attack.
Solid Answers in Net
The Blues looked like they had no answer in net as Manny Legace struggled and eventually was waived by the team. The answer, Chris Mason, started the year with a dismal 3-13-1 record and alarm bells were ringing that the Blues would need to search for a new option. However, Mason got his act together finishing with a 27-21-7 record with a very good 2.34 GAA and a save percentage of .916%. Mason helped lead the Blues into the second season and proved his durability by playing night after night for St. Louis.
I already mentioned Erik Johnson, but how can T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Patrik Berglund be forgotten. The “kid-line” was the driving force in the Blues late season surge and their intensity and speed were exhilirating to watch. The real exciting factor seems to be that we have yet to see these three at their ceiling, and that they will only continue to improve.
The season seems a long way off, but check back here for all your St. Louis Blues talk and news. Feel free to actively participate in the discussions and posts with comments or emails. Follow this blog throughout the summer and with the season and show some love for the St. Louis Blues!
LET’S GO BLUES!!!