Are the Blues Playoff Bound?
In the last gasps of summer we are left with very little news and plenty of questions as we count down the days until opening night. With all this free time the mind wanders quite a bit as we play out scenario after scenario for the new season ahead. How will the new additions gel in their new surroundings? Perhaps most importantly, will the 2011-12 installment of the St. Louis Blues climb back into the playoffs?
I conducted a rather informal, and incomplete pole to get an idea of where fans stood on the topic of the Blues finishing in the final eight. The results were not completely surprising but do give a bit of an idea of the wide range of thoughts fans have entering the year.
23% – Yes, the Blues will make the playoffs.
46% – No, the Blues will not make the playoffs.
31% – Aren’t sure.
As you can see, fans are all over the place.
I’m a bit surprised the majority leans towards no, but I’m not surprised that so many folks leaned for the “I don’t know” option. Given the team’s issues with health and the new pieces added it really is tough to predict with any degree of certainty of what this squad can do.
My personal opinion is that the Blues will make the playoffs if three things happen. These three ideas must come to fruition for the Blues to ascend into the top-8.
It’s obvious – the Blues need their key players out on the ice and not up in the press box. The “Health” topic means guys like Chris Stewart, David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo need to be wrapped in Styrofoam. If a couple of these players go down the playoff aspirations go down with them.
Young forwards, young defense and a fairly inexperienced starting goaltender. The Blues have players all over the ice that need to continue their development as expected. Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk need to remain on their steady path to stardom and Patrik Berglund needs to build off his successful 2010-11. The youngsters need to keep taking that next step in order for the Blues to improve.
In net, Jaroslav Halak needs to be better than he was last season and needs to become a more reliable, dependable number one goaltender. We can give him a pass in the first year of his four-year deal, but as we near the halfway point in his contract the reasonable excuses will start to be few and far between.
The Blues added numerous players through free agency and answered the question about this team’s depth. Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Kent Huskins and Scott Nichol are four players we can assume will make the opening day roster with Brian Elliott possibly featuring as the backup goaltender if he surpasses Ben Bishop in training camp. The Blues also bulked up their depth in Peoria and now have options to bring up if their starters go down.
The team’s new additions are on paper a healthy improvement to the overall offense. They bring additional leadership and experience. It remains to be seen how these skaters will feature in the St. Louis lineup and what chemistry there will be between them and existing players from last season’s lineup.
Have Your Say
The poll was pretty limited and was a small sample of individuals. I’m curious to hear what your opinion is. I’ve asked similar questions on Twitter but the answers I receive are limited to 140 characters and tend to leave out some details that might benefit the discussion.
I want to know not only how the fans feel but why the fans feel that way. I think the Blues could have a return to the playoffs within them, if they excel at the above three points, but I’m curious to hear opposing or like-minded opinions.
Sound off below!