The St. Louis Blues did not advance as far as fans wanted in 2021-22, but they still had a good season. Other teams did fare better, but not as many as the pundits believe.
The NHL unveiled their final power rankings for 2021-22. While the Blues finished solidly within the top 10, it still feels like they are being undervalued.
For those that did not want to click the link, St. Louis ended the entire campaign ranked sixth. Some may say that is fair due to them finishing in the final eight teams within the playoffs.
Based on that logic alone, perhaps you’re right. After all, these rankings did put the Blues ahead of Florida and Calgary.
The Panthers won the Presidents Trophy for the best regular season record, but crashed out and looked bad against Tampa. The Flames finished ahead of the Blues in the Western Conference, but looked atrocious against the Edmonton Oilers in the same round the Blues lost to Colorado.
So, what’s wrong with sixth? Nothing, as a number. Plenty when you look at the teams ahead.
Colorado is first, which you would expect from the team that won the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay was second, which you could argue, but they’re the runners up and one of only two teams to hand the Avalanche any losses during the playoffs.
The New York Rangers third? I guess I don’t understand what is so appealing about this team.
Personally, I like Igor Shesterkin and think he’s going to do great things in the league. Outside of that, the Rangers don’t impress me much.
One could say the 2019 Blues were the same way, where there were no big standouts and that’s true. They won. The Rangers did not and ran out of gas due to having to make miraculous series comebacks against Pittsburgh and Carolina.
The perception of the Eastern Conference was that it was a behemoth this season, so that bumps the Rangers up. Finishing final four will grant you that.
In fifth place, you have the Carolina Hurricanes. I think there’s arguments on both sides for them.
They had a fantastic regular season, but their playoffs were not great. They slipped by an aging Boston team and then choked against the Rangers.
Still, they’re a solid team. I would not put them above St. Louis, but I get the argument.
The major bone to pick is Edmonton finishing fourth. That’s just lazy.
The Oilers only got that spot by finishing in the conference final. You can argue if you’d like, but the Oilers were going to lose to whomever came out of the Colorado vs. St. Louis series.
They have a ton of talent on their top six and then a drop off. Their defense was never not suspect and anyone that thought Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen were going to carry that team to a championship needs to share whatever they’re on.
The Oilers are still a severely flawed team with a superstar that can only go so far. Connor McDavid is good enough to get the Oilers to a certain point, similar to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in 1993. He cannot win a championship with just him and a couple linemates.
Additionally, the Oilers barely got to the conference final as it was. It took them seven games to eliminate a Kings team that had no business winning that many. L.A. was just happy to be there.
Frankly, they only beat Calgary because Jacob Markstrom couldn’t stop a beach ball on some nights. The Blues were probably wondering where that version of Markstrom was back in 2020 when he stopped everything for the Vancouver Canucks.
Edmonton was not even close against Colorado. Despite the star power, they had no prayer against the Avs.
Most games were a blowout and the ones that were close still never felt that close. Conference final or not, the Oilers are not the fourth best team in the league.
In my humble opinion, the Blues should be third or fourth. You can put Carolina ahead if you want based on a strong regular season. You can MAYBE put the Rangers ahead since they gave Tampa somewhat of a series.
The Oilers do not belong above the Blues. Both Carolina and New York do not go ahead.
St. Louis was the only other team, outside of Tampa, to hand the Avalanche a loss. If Jordan Binnington does not get hurt, the Blues take that series to seven games and stand a good shot at winning it.
Regardless of outcomes, the Blues stood with the Avs better than even Tampa. If the Blues did not waste a game trying to go after Nazem Kadri, and maybe even found a way to keep their composure the game Binnington got hurt, this entire argument is very different.
There are valid arguments for some of the Eastern Conference teams. By virtue of being one of two teams to hand the champions losses and that they played them better than anyone else, the Blues needed to be higher.
Third is completely valid. Fourth is acceptable.
There is no shame in sixth, but tell me why Edmonton is better than St. Louis beyond just their road to the conference final being easier and I’ll listen.