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Whew.

By gallagher

So, we never have to worry about something as ridiculous as "Mighty Ducks of Anahaim" on the Cup. Next year, they'll be just the Anaheim Ducks (still silly, but acceptable in a University of Oregon Ducks sort of way) and will have lost that goofy logo finally. And that's good, because this is a team that in a non-Blues playoff I would cheer. They are more exciting than I originally thought and in a non-Disney, non-Blues context I could root for them. Sorta.

So, good for Edmonton, which is a really Cup-worthy team. They are scrapping and digging and paying the horrible price demanded by the Stanley Cup playoffs. Broken teeth, broken down bodies, battling the flu as it ravages the locker room... the Cup requires sacrifice. And these guys are sacrificing.

On the other side, I'm still pulling for the Canes, but I won't be upset if the Sabres move on. Both teams have a lot to like, and both give hope to Blues fans, who can see reason to believe that we could be the obnoxious fans rooting for our team in June.

With the new NHL rules, the Blues are in position to improve with a resurgent Keith Tkachuk (I believe), a good group of character/role playing youngsters (Dutchie, McClement, Wideman, Dallman) other NHL proven players who can improve on 2005 (Drake, Jackman, Brewer, Cajanek) and plenty of new faces via free agency. I've mentioned several times the Blues HAVE to spend millions this summer just to get to the salary floor, so we could easily see 2/3rds of a top line, a number 1 defenseman and a new top netminder all come to town. All of that won't happen, but plenty of it will. Plus, we could see a #1 overall draft pick wearing a Note come October. (On a side note, I really think it'll be Staal that the Blues pick come June 24th)

So, there's no reason to think they won't make the playoffs next year, IF they make the right moves. Be like Carolina and Buffalo and Edmonton - spend on speed, hands and a couple key spots (#1 D and a #1 goalie). Invest in your youth (give every prospect a chance in camp). Pick up a key guy at the right time (plenty of cap room available). I'm not quite ready to call for a Cup run, but I definitely think that a savvy management team can get these Blues back into the playoffs next year.

They better anyway, or Son of GT might wind up a Sabres fan for real.