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Preview Blues at Maple Leafs: Game On

Blues at Maple Leafs tonight at 6:00 CT on FSMW

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, hockey is officially back in our lives when the Blues travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Puck drops at 6:00 CT and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.

The Blues are fresh off their recent bye-week and are looking to start a new chapter in their march towards Lord Stanley’s Cup.

After a spectacular October and November that saw the Blues at or near the top of the Western Conference a poor month of December undid a lot of the teams earlier gains.

The Blues currently sit at third in the Central division and are four points behind the division leading Winnipeg Jets with both teams having played 46 games.

With just 38 games left in this ever shortening regular season the Blues can no longer afford to rest on their early season accomplishments.

Winnipeg’s offense is clicking with a division best +26 goal differential. Nashville is finding their stride and while they only lead the Blues by one point they have four games in hand.

Vegas, sans Las, Golden Knights are still the team to beat in the Western conference and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Over the last week or two we here at Game Time have ran multiple articles focusing on the potential trades that the Blues could pursue in the upcoming month.

Some of these trades included marquee players such as Mike Hoffman, Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. While others involved less talented but more affordable players such as Pat Maroon and Lee Stempniak.

While many Blues fans were in favor of the smaller more affordable trades, others were clamoring for the big one that would land the Blues a much needed top six offensive threat.

When evaluating these trades there was one key ingredient that was required to make a blockbuster trade possible, the inclusion of one or more of the Blues top prospects. In summation Blues fans were wanting their club to sell future assets for the possibility of short term gains. I would most definitely have to include myself in this group.

In my opinion the Western conference is as winnable as it has been in years. Yes, this Blues team is incomplete and may not stack up against past Cup winning teams. However, in order to win the Stanley Cup you do not have to posses the best team ever constructed, you just need one that is good enough to beat the rest of the competition.

I believe, with the addition of another top six forward, the Blues are good enough to beat any team in the NHL. Now, does that guarantee anything? Absolutely not. But I fear that the Blues front office is waiting to build the perfect team. And I am afraid by the time it takes to build that perfect team some of the team’s current stars will be on the downside of their careers.

Vladimir Tarasenko, while streaky, my be playing some of the best hockey of his career. Brayden Schenn might be having a career year. How many more injuries can Jaden Schwartz sustain before something truly devastating happens? Jake Allen CAN be good enough. The Blues defense is solid.

I believe that the majority of the ingredients are here and Doug Armstrong should use the only bargaining chip he has to go out and get the team the best help available.

Unfortunately, over the weekend Blues fans were treated to some surprising news. According to Jermey Rutherford of the Athletic this is what Armstrong had to say about the teams top four prospects, Tage Thompson, Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou:

I’m assuming you’re talking about Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Thompson and Kostin. If so, I don’t think the Blues are going into any talks seriously considering trading any of those four. Armstrong told me this week that he has been asked about those players a lot, which you probably imagined. I asked him if it would take the ‘perfect deal’ to move one of them and he said he didn’t know what the perfect deal would be. [theathletic.com]

This to me does not sound like a general manager that is thinking about trading any of the team’s young prospects. Granted, he could be lying, playing a bit of cat and mouse game with the rest of the GMs around the league. Or he could be telling the truth. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I will say this, if the front office is not considering a trade for a top six player (that undoubtably will have to include selling one of their highly touted prospects) then they are announcing to us that they do not believe this team is ready to make a serious run at the Cup.

Yes, any team that makes the playoffs could get lucky but you are risking an entire season’s worth of work in the process.

The second part of the Blues season begins tonight. Let’s hope they play well enough to force the front office to go out and get them the help they desperately need.

Thanks for reading and Go Blues.