Here is my optimistic view of what we have to look forward to this coming Blues year. Admittedly, it may be slightly biased, it may be somewhat farfetched, but this is almost like a best case scenario. If what I am about to outline actually comes into fruition, WOW. Watch out Western Conference. Here's a look at who I think will be big players for the Blues this year.
- Guys who put pucks past goalies
Welcome Back, Boyes!
Brad Boyes landed in STL and made everyone think that he was indeed, all that AND a bag of chips. His 43 goal campaign in 2007 brought faint memories of Brett Hull to the minds of fans. Well, honestly, he made Scott Young memories come to my mind, but whatever. People were excited. He followed up those 43 goals with a 33 goal year in 2008. True, a drop in goals, but also an increase in points. I'm fine with regression as long as there is some growth, somewhere, someway, somehow. We all know last year's story. Unfortunately, there's no sophomore slump to blame it on, so we chalk it up to Boyes being too worried about the impending coaching change and trying too hard to impress the new coach. It's really all I can come up with. He's sensitive. This year, however, coaching shouldn't be an issue for Brad. I think he regains his '07/'08 mojo and puts together a solid year. 32G 40A 72P
Andy McDonald finally realizes that he has mad skills. He also realizes that if he wants one more contract that pays him oodles of money, he has to show he's worth it. Self-motivators are such over-achievers. With a resurrected Boyes, Andy McDonald feels the pressures of the friendly competition and puts up stellar numbers. 25G 44A 69P
Get your Perr-on
David Perron is like a giant zit about to pop. Guess what, this year he pops. The guy has the perfect mix of mad skills, attitude, and speed. He just hasn't had the intelligence to use them at the right times. This year he puts it all together. This is probably the most far reaching of all my predictions, but I think he shows he is worth the new contract the Blues will certainly give him. 30G 33A 63P
David Backes of last year and David Backes of '08 really weren't that different; a six point difference year over year. The thing that made most fans wrinkle their brows was his drop in goals. Possible explanations? The planets aligned. He had a career year - goals-wise. I believe we have yet to see a career year points wise from D-Back. This year he will be trying to show the NHL that he should be the new leader of the Blues. He wants that 'C', and he'd beat the shit outta Brewer to get it if they weren't on the same team. 22G 35A 57P 148PIM
Alex Steen showed last year that he can be a viable asset to the Blues offense. He's still pretty young, meaning his best days are ahead of him. I'm not saying he's going to be a 40 goal scorer, but a 30+ isn't out of the realm of possibility. His young career has shown he has more skill than people know, or admit. And being out of the crippling Toronto organization is enough to make anyone better. 26G 30A 56P
Favorite MarioKart player - Y'Oshie
T.J. Oshie is the model of progression. He followed up his 39 point '08 with 48 points last year. This year should be no different. He will focus his powers and put them more towards scoring goals than leveling Rick Nash. Not to say that he will become a push-over and we won't see those highlight reel smackdowns, but he wants to prove to the nay-sayers he is every bit as good as the hype suggests. Plus, the fact that he wasn't hit by the sophomore slump speaks heavily about his abilities. 24G 32A 56P
The Titanic was sunk after hitting a Berg-lund
Of all the young guys, I wouldn't mind seeing Patrik Berglund traded away for a legitimate goal-scorer. I think that most of that is because of last year. 2008 made me think he was going to be a stud. 2009 made me think he was a dud. I think this year he's got shit to prove. Foreigners can be just as sensitive as Boyes. Look for Berglund to step up his game this year to make up for last. 25G 25A 50P *PP Stud
- Guys who stop other guys from putting pucks past our goalie(s)
I've got a big Johnson
Erik Johnson is going to live up to his #1 potential. This kid is too big and too smart to do anything else, barring any further run-ins with golf carts, that is. Last year he showed that even after not playing for an entire season, he can come back and be a bamf. EJ is a classic case of youth meets determination. He may not put up Mike Green type numbers, but then again, it wouldn't surprise me if he did. Like a fine wine, he'll get better with age. 15G 34A 49P 94PIM +11 *PP stud
Things that are the same: Brewer and sewers; both stink
Eric Brewer has lost any respect he ever had from most Blues fans. It is possible, however, that fans had such high expectations, that even if Brewer had played great, it wouldn't have been good enough. He is no Chris Pronger. He has only had a + rating once in his career, never more than 29 points in a season, and doesn't know the feeling of double digit goals. That all changes this year. Last year was his year to get back up to speed after missing butt-loads of ice-time in 2008. This year, he plays good to great. NOT Chris Pronger good to great, but good enough that fans will stop being so hard on him. Like Berglund and Boyes, he is very sensitive. 11G 28A 39P +2
Who needs a Marleau, we have a Carlo
Carlo Colaiacovo is yet another example of needing to get away from Toronto. Even with the abysmal third period Blues last year, Carlo was able to end the year with a +8 rating, second on the team. Don't expect this year to be any different. He's not as young as some of the other guys, but that doesn't mean we've seen his best stuff. The next 3 years for this guy will not soon be forgotten. 10G 25A 35P +10
You don't know Jack-man
Barret Jackman has had a rough couple of years. Last year, people really got down on him; not as much as Brewer, but only Keenan can come close to that level of animosity. Jackman will go back to being a defensive specialist. Perhaps not quite worth his pricetag, but better than being paid millions to cough the puck up behind the net. He won't feel the need to try to make offensive plays he's not capable of making. 3G 12A 15P 120PIM +14
- Guy who stops the other team's guys from putting the puck in the net when they get past our guys who are supposed to stop the other team's guys from getting the puck to our guy...
Jaroslav Halak is like the Olive Garden. Say you and your significant other go out every Friday night and have dinner. Times are rough, you lost your job or have had your hours cut back. Your paycheck allows for a lovely night out at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is great, don't get me wrong. Nacho Cheese chalupas are definitely in the top 10 great things about life. But after a year of Taco Bell and Nacho Cheese chalupas, it gets dull. Then, one day, you find a wallet on the sidewalk. You open it, see a hundred dollar bill inside, look around, take the money and run like hell. You call your significant other and say, baby, put on your fancy clothes, we're going to Olive Garden! You get to Olive Garden and order something expensive. People bring you your food on a plate, not a plastic bag or tray. It's a wonderful night. Then you go home and do XXX rated things (or for the lady folk, make love) with your significant other that you don't need me to describe.
Jaroslav Halak is like the Olive Garden. He is a breath of fresh air to the team. He brings with him playoff experience. He knows the pressures of the NHL, and has shown that he can not only handle them, he can man-handle them. This guy is the real deal. The Blues are going to be 'making-love' all year. And just like porn, we will certainly be wanting to watch. Jaro will do his job, the defense will do their job, and the offense will do their job. When all these things happen at once, it creates a solid team, and gives a goalie strikingly good numbers (see Turek, Roman, 1999-2000).
Halak will steal a few games for the Blues, no doubt. This guy could easily steal a couple weeks worth of games, as witnessed in the playoffs. What's the difference between Montreal and St. Louis? The Blues finished 40-32-10 with 90 points. Montreal finished 39-33-10 with 88 points. The Blues scored 225 goals the Canadiens scored 217. Both teams gave up 223 goals. Halak has found himself on a better team, granted, not by much compared to last year's stats, but the Blues have much more potential for growth than Montreal.
This is a rather long winded Halak bio, but I feel it is important for people to see that there isn't much difference between the two teams. Therefore, Halak should fit in just fine, play the way he did last year, and put up better numbers because the Blues of '10-'11 will be better than the Canadiens of '10-;11. 40W 22L 2.36GAA 91.9SV%