The St. Louis Blues always get fans going on one side of the fence or the other. Preseason is usually a quiet time, but why not toss out some wild thoughts?
The St. Louis Blues are why we love the sport of hockey. Well, most of us anyway or else why would you be reading this? (thank you to those that are still reading. Some family members are included in that category)
If anything though, sports have taught us to disregard the preseason. We should only pay attention to guys fighting for jobs and performance as opposed to stats.
Still, where is the fun in that? Sometimes it’s ok to overreact to things and hope for the best/plan for the worst sort of thing.
So, why not do that with our beloved Blues? Why not take a peek at what the players have done this late summer/early fall and ponder if it means anything?
With that said, here they are. The top five preseason overreactions.
5. Kenny Agostino Should Start The Season With The Blues
Now, before any of you go on twitter rants or stop reading all together, remember these are just fun things that are overreactions to what is true. That said, we’ll start with the great preseason Kenny Agostino has had.
Agostino has played in five of the Blues preseason games as of writing this. In that time, he has two goals and four assists.
Through four games, he had a shot percentage of 50%. Two goals on four shots (now five) isn’t bad at all.
In all likelihood, Agostino won’t make the team. His production has been good, but the time on the ice numbers don’t seem to indicate the team giving him a serious look.
Still, he has made quite an impression, leading the team in points so far in thise smaller numbers on the ice. Also, he has kept his production steady, if not on an upward trend, at each progressive level.
He is currently a +4, so he doesn’t seem like a defensive liability right now. He’s also only been a minus player in a full season, once in his career.
As mentioned, it might be a long shot for him to happen, but why not right now? He would be sent down as soon as guys like Alexander Steen or Jaden Schwartz get healthy, but why not reward him for producing as much as he has?
4. Jordan Binnington Will Be The First Call Up
By first call up, I mean Jordan Binnington seems to be in line to become the Blues backup if an injury situation occurs. Before the preseason, you could have flipped a coin.
This one is an overreaction because Binnington could go down to the Wolves, play poorly and Pheonix Copley gets the call in that scenario. As it stands, Binnington seems to have gained favor by lasting longer in camp.
Copley was sent down to the farm team on October 3 and Binnington remains on the Blues’ training camp roster. Outside of practice, he may not get any more gametime since the NHL goaltenders are being given full games now.
Still, it has to say something that he is still being utilized for the camp.
It’s not as though he would not have earned it, based on preseason action. He’s started in one game and played in two.
Over those he’s accrued over 50 minutes of action. He has a goals against of 1.18 (only one goal allowed overall) and a save percentage of .958.
Perhaps more interesting is Copley played in only two and a half minutes less and allowed no goals. Yet, he is the one sent down first.
One could argue Copley has the edge and was sent down quicker to get more game time if the Wolves have preseason games. To me, it seems as though the Blues have tipped their hand for the early going.
Nothing against either of those two, but let us hope we never have to find out. It would be nice to have health in net for once.
3. Ty Rattie Has Earned A Spot
I was also going to say something about Ivan Barbashev. I’ve seen a few people raving about him, but he has no points in five games and I have not seen him personally.
So, let’s go with Ty Rattie and why not? Whether he can suit up for an entire NHL season or not is completely arguable.
He has done what was asked and more this preseason though. He’s not getting great minutes, but still scoring.
Through four games he averaged a little over 16 minutes per game. He only got 12 against the Washington Capitals.
He assisted on the lone goal in that game. That upped his total to four points in five games played thus far.
Rattie would be in a similar spot to what I said about Agostino. He’d either be sent down when the regular roster is healthy or placed up in the press box.
Neither sound particularly good to a young player. However, outside of scoring five goals and having double digit points (neither of which truly fit his game), he was never going to flat-out wow anyone. So, these totals are pretty decent and should at least garner consideration for making the final NHL squad.
Rattie is not old, by any stretch. He is creeping into that age group where if you haven’t made the NHL, you aren’t likely to though.
There are people on both sides of the fence about him and both make compelling arguments. If we are going to overreact though, give him a shot based on what he’s done so far.
2. The Blues Will Score From The Blue Line
I’ll be honest and admit, I don’t have concrete stats on this. However, from the eye test, the Blues just have been unwilling to bomb away from the blue line in recent years.
For the most part, it seems like many of the defensemen’s goals have come from joining the rush. Perhaps that is about to change.
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The thing that gives me hope is the amount of defenders scoring this preseason. Nobody is putting up outlandhish number – perhaps Shattenkirk – but the goals and points are coming.
In a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars, three of the four goals came from defensemen. More importandly, all three of those goals came on the powerplay.
Powerplay goals are very important in today’s game. Also, defensemen shooting on the powerplay is a huge step for the Blues.
Again, it’s not as though the team has abandoned the practice entirely. However, when you grew up watching guys like Al MacInnis bomb shots from the point and now the team seems to want to go to the half-wall the entire time, it gets annoying.
Parayko is built to shoot from the point, even though he has the skill to move into the play. Some of the younger guys are yet to show it, but the more this team gets pucks to the net from the point, the better they’ll be.
Half of the Blues problem when it came to the powerplay was predictability. Teams could pressure because they knew shots were not going to come from the blue line with regularity.
If that changes, teams back off. More room means the potential for more goals, not only from the point but also for guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, who could definitely benefit from more room.
1. The Blues Goaltending Is Very Good
Over the last few seasons, Blues fandom has been divided down the middle. Taking a page from pop culture feuds such as Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, people picked sides with the goaltenders.
You were either in Jake Allen‘s camp or Brian Elliott‘s camp (I was alone in Jaroslav Halak‘s camp before that, but that’s another story). It seemed as though the fans on one side always had something to complain about with the other.
That time is gone. Whether you were in Elliott’s camp or not, Allen is the man now and all Blues fans are hoping he lives up to what the team and his fans see in him.
Perhaps more surprising is the play of Carter Hutton. A career backup, Hutton originally came to the team to be a body on the ice when Allen needed a spell.
Now, it seems as though Hutton is poised to take up the mantle of the next great backup. That truly is an overreaction, any way you slice it, but it’s good to see him playing so well so far.
Hutton has gained the most playing time of any of the goaltenders. He’s played in four games, started three and played in 165 minutes.
Through three games, he had a .902 save percentage. That only got better after his performance against the Washington Capitals.
Hutton played all 65 minutes. He only allowed one goal, made some sharp saves as evidenced above and had a .974 save percentage, improving his overall to .933.
Even as someone who was for Halak and then Allen, I’m not even pondering Hutton being on the same level as Elliott. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.
The Blues don’t need him to be though. They’re going to ride Allen the entire season. Hutton’s job, ideally, is to play 20-25 games and give the Blues every opportunity to win.
Based on how he has played in the preseason, that seems entirely doable, if not probable. Additionally, he’s looked good enough, in that short span, to give hope that the Blues would not be in Montreal’s position of last year if Allen got injured (heaven forbid please).
Even as a fan of Allen, I understand goaltending will be a question mark until these guys prove otherwise. If nothing else, goaltending always seems to be a question mark for the Blues.
Based on the preseason and my own beliefs, I think the Blues will be in capable hands.
So, there we go. Those are the overreactions to the preseason thus far. What are yours? Let us know in the comments.