The St. Louis Blues have a long and hard NHL season in front of them. For the first time in a long time, though, the first month may have a huge determination on the rest.
Most people say that you can’t win a season in the first week, month etc, but you can lose it. Both may be true for the 2016-17 St. Louis Blues.
The Blues are opening the season at less than 100%. Not much less, but enough to really throw a wrench into the Blues’ cog.
It could have been much worse. There were significant possibilities that Alexander Steen was going to miss the beginning of the year.
Instead, Jaden Schwartz is the only name that won’t be on the team sheet for awhile. Schwartz’ name is bad enough since the Blues will be depending on him, but at least it is just the one name.
Schwartz is scheduled to miss the first two weeks of the season at least. He will be reevaluated after that time and the team hopes his elbow injury will be healed enough to play.
Why do these injuries matter more this year than prior? Mostly due to how thin the Blues are going to be.
People that have read my articles likely know how I view things. It ranges anywhere from realistic to optimistic, unless the stuff has really hit the fan.
Well, even I cannot delude myself into thinking this team doesn’t have any worries any more. There is no need to join the ranks of people that think the sky is falling and the Blues are going to fall from Western Conference finalist to missing the playoffs.
There are enough people on that wagon. However, the team itself does have issues they have not had to face in recent times.
The first few weeks of the season are going to hold much more importance for the entire season than they normally would. This is because you can boil things down to two ways it can play out.
Either the St. Louis Blues will continue the next man up mentality that forged them into a contender in 2015-16 or they will falter and prove easy to shut down. Clearly, the situation is more complex than that in reality, but when viewed in simplest terms, those are the two ways to see it.
Who will be the surprise to start this season? The Blues need some, because right now people are wondering where the scoring is going to come from.
However, their inclusion took pressure off other guys. Fabbri could stretch his legs because he was not keyed on by defenses or pressured to score by the team.
The team will need Fabbri to live up to, if not surpass, what he was last season. David Perron is going to have to be closer to what he was in his first season in Edmonton than anything we’ve seen with other teams.
This team has long been more than the sum of its parts, but the entire team will have to have more on days than off for the squad to succeed. That’s why the first two weeks, up to a month, will be so important.
The Blues have some tough tests, very quickly, when you view the schedule. They open with divisional foes in Chicago and Minnesota. The Rangers won’t be easy and the Blues will have to score against the Oilers, because you know they can score.
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If Schwartz’ injury puts him out for all of October, then you have to play up and coming Calgary twice without him. Detroit and Los Angeles are on there as well.
Jake Allen is going to need help. We’ve seen goaltenders get blasted in the past even though they played well and the team did not produce enough goals.
The Blues are behind him, but their offense will have to produce the results.
We’ve seen it before. Even bad teams can have a good month. The same can be true of good teams if you reverse it.
The Blues could have a bad October and still end up alright by the end of the season. Still, we are going to have a very good idea of what to expect from this team from the opening month.
It’s not the usual scenario of getting your legs under you. If the Blues struggle to score, there really is not a ton of help to be had anywhere outside the 18 skaters already on the roster.
Even those of us who think this team will do well can’t bury our heads in the sand though. We saw the St. Louis Cardinals rely on their younger players and it backfired a bit.
The Blues are now doing the same. Fans of the Note are hoping for a different result than the Redbirds showed us.
They will have to get off to a good start in October though. Normally October is important for baseball, but this year it may be one of the most telling months of the season in hockey.