Thus far in the offseason, we have looked mainly at why the Blues will further improve after a surprise breakout season in 2011. However, continued growth is not a given in an NHL with so many competitive teams. Here’s a look at a few reasons why the Blues could take a step back in 2012-2013:
Last season, the Blues were hit with a slew of mostly non-impact injuries, the most severe of which was the Andy McDonald concussion. It was pretty evident how inept the Blues offense was without the playmaker, and he was only a winger. Imagine if Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, or Backes was injured for an extended period of time? With the loss of one or multiple point getters or goaltenders, the Blues would be very vulnerable, especially with their lack of scoring on their lower lines.
Lack of Depth on Blue line
Both Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are young studs on the blue line, with the potential to be 50 points scorers and standouts on specialty teams. However, behind them are five defensemen who either lack major NHL experience, are veterans at the end of their careers, or are just underachieving journeymen. Granted, Roman Polak and Barrett Jackman are both serviceable d-men, but Polak is definitely not proficient on the offensive end and Jackman’s numbers have tailed off the past two seasons. To be sure, the Blues should definitely be in the market for another defenseman before the season starts.
Yes, this one is obvious, but even if there is an NHL season, the lack of a preseason and the beginning games could negatively impact the young team. Without training camp, it will be difficult to continue the offensive momentum they gained by the end of last season. While many other teams may feel this same strain on their chemistry, I think the Blues could be off worse than the common team, as they experienced periods of extreme inept in even man situations. Also, if the Blues attempt to work Vladimir Tarasenko and Ty Rattie into the rotation, it will be impossible for them to be up to speed if a lockout occurs.