The Blues came oh so close last year. Then came what often comes for teams at the very upper end of the league; an exodus. They couldn't afford everyone who played so hard for them and got them so far. They lost the man who carried the entire team to the WCF, Brian Elliott. They lost one of the best captains to wear the C in decades in Backes. They lost one of their top post seasons scorers in Brouwer. They even lost 4th line rodeo clown Steve Ott.
How can a team lose its #2 and #3 post season goal scorers, and its best goalie and not take a huge step back? When the team come prefabricated. As much hell as the fanbase gives him, Doug Armstrong may have already had a new house bought before the storm blew down his old one. To replace Elliott came Allen, who we all knew was a top talent to begin with. He brought in a goalie who knew the central division in Hutton, who proved in just the 3rd game of the season he is capable of getting into the zone and stealing a win. Instead of attempting to replace big bodied, blood and sweat, guys like Backes and Brouwer, Armstrong took the team in another direction.
The emergence of Fabbri and Parayko last season opened up an entirely new direction for this team. They could move away from the dump and chase. They were no longer a team who beat you into the boards and hoped that Tarasenko could find an opening. It now had speed, talent, and tenacity. Fabbri is as competitive on the ice as anyone I have ever seen. He doesn't have the weight or muscle to back it up, but he fights harder to make plays than possibly anyone on this team. Parayko not only has a cannon shot, and is outstanding on defense, he skates and stick handles like a forward. Then at the last second, Armstrong made a move that could be the most underrated of them all. Nail Yakopov.
Nail was on a team that blocked all of its own shots. He was a #1 overall talent that got bogged down. In just 3 games he has shown us his ability to score, and set up his teammates. He is fast, young, and hungry. He is what that 2016-2017 Blues are. They are a talented young, hungry, team. There have been more than a few of those teams who have fallen aside. Youth and energy often doesn't match experience. That is where these Blues may be different. While Allen, Tarasenko, Fabbri, Parayko, and Schwartz are young, they all have experience. They were all here last year for the run. Not only that, but they aren't the leadership group of this team. This team is still lead by Pietrangelo, Steen, and Stastny. All men who are old enough to be leaders. Not just that, but they aren't transplants. They aren't journeymen who's skill has fallen by the wayside that are brought in to lead because they did it once 10 years ago. (I'm looking at you guys Morrow and Roy) They have been on this team long enough, and still play at a high enough level, that this is their team. They earned it. We might have finally gotten the right mix of youth and experience. When we were once too gritty and not skilled enough, we might have finally found that balance.
So when our old house crumbled, and we saw what stood behind it, are we as fans ready to move in, or are we still going to need hammers and nails to fix it?