but liars figure...
By Childhood TraumaÂ
Ultimately the 2008 Blues' hopes must lie with a team concept. The individuals they have assembled will not win games with individual performances. No one in the 'Note is an elite, a game-breaker, a preseason favorite to win an award. Will the same team Gestalt appear that marked the sinking of Kitchen? Will someone surprise us? Will a deadline deal make this team better this time around? If the answers to all three of them are yes, then the Blues should expect a return to the playoffs. A single no may doom the team to watching the playofs on tv. If they are televised this year.
Goaltending: Manny is a second tier goalie. His career stats indicate that; his play last season indicate that. Manny was ranked 19th in goals against average last season- 23rdÂ in save percentage and 26th in wins. Second tier by his fingernails. Certainly there is room for improvement in Manny this coming season. Manny, and his team, had a horrible start and faced constant injuries that often weakened the team's defensive skill level. With a veteran juggernaut in front of him, Manny put up solid rankings in all three of those stats as a starter for the Red Wings. Yet those accomplishments still never had his name mentioned with the first tier goalies of the league, having the pundits and Sunday morning scouts place him well below the skill levels ofÂ many others --Â even the other Manny,Â Â Manny Fernandez like S.I. did hereÂ during Legace's solid Red Wing seasons. Legace will not get the Blues into the playoffs alone.
Defense: The Blues top offensive d-man was Backman, and that will likely continue. Backman can bring a lot to the offensive zone yet still occasionally has lapses in the defensive zone. For all Backman's European-bred net finding, he ranked 40th in the NHL in goals by a blueliner. That would place a better goal scorer on all 29 others teams AND a total of two better scorers on a third of the teams in the league! The Blues do even worse inÂ providing any spark form the Blueline. Eric Brewer, playing for a contract, woke up finally in the 'Note and lead the Blues in points. He was the 46th ranked NHL defenseman in points.Â Jackman managed to be the Blues' second place scorer and he ranked 57th. The Coyotes managed to dress three scarier scorers on D. The Canucks dressed four. You have toÂ look to a team like the Capitals to find larger incompetence. As a defensive squad, lead ice time went to Eric BrewerÂ who was team worse with a -10. And while we can expect Jay McKee to play more than 23 games, it only took Jay 23 games to give Brewer a run for his money. Jay finished with a -9. The good news is Barret Jackman not only managed to find nearly average offensive output, he actually put up a +20, was ranked 15th overall in that stat for defenseman, and despite being made of glass,Â Barrett suited up a reasonable 70 games and played almost 22 minutes per game. The addition of Erik Johnson is certainly a wild card. While he is not an elite prospect in the Calder race, and while he wasn't even the best Gopher d-man, many fans are penciling him in for 20 minutes a night.Â I've asked my lucky astrology mood ball about Erik's chances of winning the Blues more games than he loses, its divine response : Indications say yes. So, woot!
Forwards: The team has beenÂ offensively dead for seasons. Very little has changed. The heart of theÂ scoring on the forward line was Doug Weight's team leading 74th ranked point output. Again don't get out your calculator, basically everyÂ team had two scorers better than Dougie and every OTHER team had three. In the find the net category, sophomore Lee Stempniak lead the Blues but didn't bother to crack the top 50 in the NHL. To some extent the Blues sold off their scorers. KT or Billy may have overtaken Lee's goals whileÂ a Blue. If Kt did, the Blues would have been yet another average team, they would just have two scorers knocking on the top fifty instead of one. Billy would have likely been a solid top 30, making the Blues respectable, but still below average.Â The Blues did, supposedly, add (also called revamping by some media gurus) to this viagraÂ lacking attack. Paul Kariya, a "younger" version of Doug Weight was picked up and KT returned to his St. Louis house, having no need to unpack. Kariya didn't crack the top 30 in points scoredÂ while onÂ a playoff bound Nashville team, and simply doesn't score many goals. Guerin's blues output is likely to exceed Kariya's, and withÂ other main players like Weight and KT getting that much futher past prime producing age, Lee Stempniak and oh let me pull a name out of the hat, ummm, Petr Cajanek (coughÂ cough) are going to have to score goals at rates they have yet to achieved to keep the Blues a scoring threat.
Coaching: Yes, the Kitchenless Blues played x games over .500 (I didn't look it up). It isn't as relevant as many people want it to be. Andy Murray didn't win any coaching awards despite what I hear from Local fans. The last time Andy Murray won a playoff series, Alexander Khavanov was leading the St. Louis Blues in minutes played and John Travolta was bombing in L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth." What does the mood ball say about Andy winning a playoff series or award this season? Chances aren't good.
Top Brass: Can't be elite. "Pleau must geau" was a rallying cry that has been temporarily silenced, but he respesents the experience of the group. The rest are all neo-rookies. They seem intent in stock piling goalies and second tier defensemen. I suppose having 15 goalies you are afraid to pass though waivers and 17 "future Bryce Salvadors" has merit in a compulsive, twitching, MonkÂ sort of way. This is their first real test though, and the problems they inherited are nowÂ theirs to fix. Whatever paths they have chosen we have alreadyÂ started down. Will it end at a cup? Magic moodÂ ball says: Answer unclear, ask again later. Sage advice thatÂ I alsoÂ recommend.