So far, the St. Louis Blues have made it look easy so far this season. Craig Berube’s gang has been clicking all season despite numerous injuries and line changes for 65 points in 46 games played.
Even as a wrote that intro, first-time All-Star David Perron buried a powerplay goal to give the team a 3-1 lead against a respectable New York Rangers squad. However, while this season has been like a dream for the St. Louis Blues faithful, there are a couple of heavyweights hanging out behind us in the Central Division standings.
Those two teams are the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars. One team is much scarier than the other, but we will get to that.
First, let’s talk about the Dallas. The Stars made a whole lot of noise in the offseason with the additions of Corey Perry and the long-time captain of the San Jose Sharks, Joe Pavelski. Despite firing their head coach, Jim Montgomery, for personal misconduct, the Stars currently sit second behind the Blues in the division.
Second does not sound all that bad, but this is not the whole story. After adding Pavelski and Perry to an already strong offensive front of Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin, Dallas currently sits 27th in goals scored this season. On the flip side, they have given up the least amount of goals in the league.
What ices the cake for me is the fact that their strength of schedule (SOS) has been a hair below average at -0.02. Sure, defense might win championships, but I would argue that a great defense and one of the league’s worst offenses cannot win a division.
There is a ton of season left. With the firepower this team has on both sides of the puck and Ben Bishop in net, they could cut the point gap quickly.
The team that I believe is more likely than the Stars to make a run at the Central crown is the Colorado Avalanche. They have had the hardest schedule in the NHL at 0.10. Additionally, they are among the best in the league in goals for and sit 11th in least goals against.
Nathan MacKinnon currently leads the team in points by a long shot and stud young-gun defenseman Cale Makar sits second even though he was out a while due to an injury. They also have solid goaltending in Pavel Francouz and Philipp Grubauer. That is not even mentioning they have guys like Mikko Rantanen, Joonas Donskoi, Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri.
One of the scariest parts is that this team is trending up. Two seasons ago, they made the playoffs on the last day of the season to fall short in the first round. Last year they upset the Calgary Flames in the first round but got cut down by the Sharks in the second. This team is wildly talented on both sides of the puck and now has playoff experience to go with it.
How do these teams stack up to the Blues? That is the key question.
St. Louis currently sits 8th in goals for this season, has the sixth least goals against, and has played the tenth strongest schedule in the NHL. The Blues are a more well-rounded team than both of these sleeping giants and also have Stanley Cup Championship experience.
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This division is not going to be easy to take, but the St. Louis Blues have made it look awfully easy so far. Based on the talent and experience in the division, if the Blues fall asleep for more than a week, there might be some trouble. For now, at least, let’s enjoy this stress-free style of hockey we have been oh so thirsty for.