Here we are, basically two weeks away from the start of the 2013 regular season (note that it is not the 2012-2013 regular season). January 19th should be the starting date, although nothing is official. Training Camps are right around the corner. Players are ready. We don’t have to hear about the prolonged and idiotic CBA talks anymore! Hockey being played is right around the corner. Take it in for a moment.
Most seem to think there will be a 50-game schedule put in place. If this is true, that is 32 games less than a normal regular season, which means each game has that much more importance. The last time there was a shortened season was in 1995, the year the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup with a 22-18-8 regular season record (yes, that is only four games over .500). It’s 18 years later though, and it is a different time.
Can the St. Louis Blues build off of last season’s success and do well in this shortened campaign? ESPN’s John Buccigross thinks so. Buccigross tweeted his prediction for the matchup of this year’s Stanley Cup Final on Sunday, and it included the Blues and the Rangers.
How can St. Louis make that prediction come true? It’s pretty simple actually, do what they did last year. To do this, the leaders on the Blues are going to be leaned on now more than ever. This obviously includes David Backes, but it also applies to veterans like Barrett Jackman, Andy McDonald, and Jamie Langenbrunner.
The fact is, more than half of the Blues’ roster has not played hockey competitively over the last three months. Leaders will need to keep the players focused. The schedule is going to be a grind, one that some of the players may not be completely used to. Ramblings suggest that there will be an average of 4 games per week, but again nothing official yet.
Most (if not all) of the Blues’ games will be played within the Western Conference. You could possibly be looking at five games against the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nashville Predators, with three games against the other 10 teams in the Conference. Games are going to be very physical, and before you know it, every contest is going to seem like a playoff game because of the shortened schedule. Aren’t you excited?!?
This season the Blues will essentially have the roster (plus Tarasenko) that captured the division title last season. You may see a few players step up their game (Chris Stewart maybe?), but if the majority of the players perform as they did last year, St. Louis should be in good shape. The Blues will have a great defensive core, with good goaltending, and three lines that can score timely goals. Oh, and add physical to that list too, because as always, the Blues are not going to let team’s push them around.
In order to clinch the Central Division, The Blues will need to win around 30 contests. This is a team that should be shooting for the top, so why not have high expectations?
Coming up soon, Alex and myself will be putting up a Season Preview to get you ready for 2013 NHL regular season. This preview will be split up into four different parts and will focus on the offensive, defensive, goaltending, and coaching of the St. Louis Blues.