We are passed the midway point of the season and teams are now beginning to really jockey for position. With the exception of the Kings who always suck until spring, you may be looking at what your favorite hockey team really is for this season. No more excuses. After a shocking first round ejection last season, is this the team you expected?
Last season the Blues were the vogue pick to win the cup. We were on pace for the presidents cup when our season was completely derailed by late injuries. All excuses aside, we blew it. We lost to our division rivals in spectacular fashion in the first round. We cut bait on some players and brought in a few fresh faces. The deadline blockbuster that wasn't last season which saw Ryan Miller and Steve Ott donning a different color blue is thankfully forgotten. Miller now skates for another squad and Steve Ott, love him or hate him, anchors our 4th line. So with the past behind us, who are these Blues?
We spent what felt like an eternity watching our top defensive pairing pushed around. We saw the emergence of the STL line who carried the entire team on its back like Orm Storulfsson. (Don't know him? look it up) Then there was the emergence of Kevin Shattenkirk, followed by his abrupt derailment. Remember Oshie O's, and the flurry of top line points that followed? What about the short lived Marty Blue-duer? This has been a strange season, but we still sit at #2 in the central. Who would have guessed it would be Nashville we're chasing?
Who exactly did we think this team would be? Did we picture them a dejected bunch who's first round loss destroyed their will? Did we picture them rallying behind the loss and coming back stronger? We aren't on the same pace as we were last season, but maybe we're a better team. We have spent portions of the season in turmoil, but have managed to survive. We've played games without a huge number of players due to injury and still managed to win. I think the biggest departure from last season is the reliance on the young. Last season we loaded up on gray beards like Brendan Morrow, Derek Roy, and Ryan Miller. This season our arguably top line is made up of 2 young wingers and a new to the NHL center. We have given the reigns at least halfway over to our young Canadian goaltender. Our third line is Berglund, Stastny, Jaskin. What is that? A good third line? Ken Hitchcock isn't using his throw spaghetti at a wall and see what sticks method? Madness.
This Blues team isn't playing the same smash and grind hockey we saw last season. We aren't winning games 1-0 anymore. When we fall behind this season, this team feels it can come back. We aren't playing recklessly, we are using every second on the clock to tie it up and push on for a win. Last season our team didn't face adversity until the last few weeks of the season, and we failed miserably. These Blues have been looking adversity in the eye all season and have, thus far, pulled through. After losing our top goaltender, 3 centers at once, and one of the top defensemen in the league, we're still in position to push for the top spot in the West.
These Blues felt the pain of their own inability last season, and have come back younger, wiser, and more determined. Is that who you thought they would be?
(Also I do note the irony of writing this article right after a shit the bed loss to CBJ, bite me.)