In the past, the St. Louis Blues have managed to always be a bridesmaid, but never a bride. The 2013 season may just be the year that all of that changes. Last season the St. Louis Blues young core proved that they could excel when competing in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL, and this year should be more of the same. With 30 teams racing to the Cup Finals, here are 5 reasons why the St. Louis Blues may just be able to break their franchise long streak and win a Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2013.
The 2011-12 St. Louis Blues set franchise records for goaltending and took the NHL by storm. The Blues tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott became the best in the NHL and allowed the fewest goals against. While there will surely be a bit of drop in performance this season, with two solid goalies, both of which could be starters, the St. Louis Blues have a clear advantage. The modern NHL has shown that the number one thing that a team needs entering the playoffs is strong goaltending. Unlike many teams who have an incredible number 1 and a so-so backup, the St. Louis Blues have essentially two starters. This could help the Blues go a long way in keeping them alive come May and June.
Unproven in the NHL, Vladimir Tarasenko could be the unknown factor for the St. Louis Blues. Other teams don’t have a lot of information on him as he has spent his entire career thus far dominating in the KHL playing against grown men at a young age. Don’t call him the Tank, Tarasenko prefers anything but and Blues fans need to respect the young player’s wishes. TSN ranked him as the 3rd best prospect not yet in the NHL back in December, and don’t think he is going to let fans down. The offensive side of the St. Louis game has suffered with their defensive system, but Tarasenko could provide the extra spark to really set the Blues apart.
Say what you will, but Chris Stewart can be a machine on the ice. He has the size, the intensity, and the natural ability to put pucks in the net and keep the other team backing down in physical situations. Stewart dropped 25 pounds over the break, then played in Germany, and should be in top shape to regain his form. It may be a short season, but look for Chris Stewart to put in a ton of effort and become a leader on the St. Louis Blues lineup. It is a contract season for Stewart, and a prove it season at that, so fans should expect to see him put in the extra mile. His performance in the playoffs last season against the Kings showed that he still had what it takes, and I expect him to be a player they look to in the playoffs once again.
Coach Ken Hitchcock has been here before. He has had a young team and was able to harness them, and get them to the Cup Finals. The St. Louis Blues have lacked a proven coach for some time now, and Ken Hitchcock is determined to win another Stanley Cup. I don’t think there are many coaches in the league who understand the game and their opponents as well as Hitch does. His experience, leadership, and commerardary with the players will set this St. Louis Blues team apart from the rest.
No team in the NHL can compete with the St. Louis Blues defense. In the offseason the Blues let Colaiacovo and Huskins leave in free agency, but this should have no impact on the team. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has said that he is happy with the current core of the St. Louis Blues defense and doesn’t plan to bring anyone new into the system this season. Alex Peitrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are some of the best young defensemen in the Western Conference and it doesn’t end there. Ian Cole, another first round draft pick for the Blues, is going to be a full time fixture this season and looks ready for the challenge. The best offense is a good defense, and the 2013 St. Louis Blues are going to have both.
While 2013 may not be the year that the St. Louis Blues finally get to lift the cup, but it is in no way out of the question. Come June we could very well see David Backes lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup. LET’S GO BLUES!