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Believe It Or Not, the Blues Could Be Better

So you’ve probably read all over these fancy interwebs about how good the Blues have been so far this season. They’re a billion and zero and one when facing the Eastern Conference of Pansies. They’re virtually unstoppable since the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man Ken Hitchcock took over as coach and the accountant Davis Payne was ousted.

They’re on a four-game winning streak following their worst stretch this season (which, if I remember right, was just losing three in a row, one via a shootout.

Your St. Louis Blues are thus far undefeated in 2012. So what I’m about to say may sound crazy: These Blues sure as hell aren’t underperforming, but they do have the capacity to be better.

So far this season, we’ve gotten standout performances from several Blues, most notably the fan-damn-tastic goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaro Halak. Awesome. Not often do you get not one, but two goalies firing on all cylinders for a stretch like this. We’re ridiculously fortunate to be watching it unfold. And some of the skaters (David Backes, T.J. Oshie, unconcussed Nose Alex Steen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo, and I’ll say it even though you won’t unless your name is Gallagher – Barret Jackman) have played like they’re chasing a carrot on a stick.

But there are a number of reasons this team can be better. I hear we like bullet points 'round these parts, but they seem to be reserved only for postgame game wrap-ups. So I guess I can't use bullets...

  1. Patrik Berglund has taken a step backward from last season. We’re talking about a guy who had 52 points last season and scored 20 goals. This year, he’s still on pace for barely 20 goals, and sadly, he’s only on pace for about 20 assists. I thought this was a year Bergie could put up 70 points, and I think a lot of other people thought that, too. If he can get a fire lit, this team can be much better.
  2. Ditto, Chris Stewart. On the low side, we thought he would score 25 goals this season. On the high side, he could have broken out and scored 50. It’s still possible that he DOES score 50 in a season at some point in his career. Barring some crazy voodoo shit, this isn’t that year. But if he had been hot all season, there’s no telling how pretty we’d be sitting at this point. Undefeated? Ridiculous notion.
  3. Ian Cole, while he has been solid, hasn’t really stepped up. And maybe that’s because he hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunity yet, but the guy was highly anticipated in St. Louis, a first-rounder who we were all waiting for to make the leap from Notre Dame to the big leagues. He’s made that leap. He’s a big body. He makes some mistakes, but I’d say in general, he’s been good. He just hasn’t been luminary good, like we hoped he'd be coming out of the first round.
  4. Concussions. David Perron has only played 17 games – though he’s played 17 fantastic games. We love having him back. It sure would be nice if we had Andy McDonald back. It seems crazy to say, but Andy Mac has only played in three games this season, and he had two points. I feel like he was hurt later than that. He, as recently as a year or two ago, was The Best Player On The Team. Hell, he still could be. And he’s out long-term. Add another top-line forward to this Blues team, and how good could they be? And don’t forget, we’ve lost Alex Steen, who was arguably the best forward on the ice besides David Backes on any given night, to concussion recently, too.
  5. This team still doesn’t have an owner. Dave Checketts is busy getting extensions on his loans and trying to peddle the Blues off for a profit. Matt Hulsizer apparently isn’t interested enough to make something happen in his allotted amount of time (which is fine by me, since I want someone who's interested in the Blues, not just a hockey team). Tom Stillman's ownership group includes the Enterprise folks -- together, they're go-zillionaires, Forrest Gump style, and yet they won’t just buy the goddamn team – they've got to lowball instead. And because of the shitty ownership situation, John Davidson and Doug Armstrong can only sit back on their hands. As long as the team’s winning, that’s all good and well. But according to CapGeek, the Blues have $9.1 million worth of salary cap space to use this season, 10th most in the league. Only four players in the NHL are making more than $9 million this season. That cap space could be room for an IMPACT player. Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Steven Stamkos, Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla. I understand they’re all currently signed. But if we had an owner with deep pockets, a forward of that caliber that would be signable. And could you IMAGINE putting a crazy-good forward like that into the Blues lineup? Giggity.

So if the Blues win tonight against Vancouver, they could be the best team in the conference. And rightfully so. But there are so many factors that, if they came together, could make these Blues an even better team. And that, my friends, should scare people.