The 2010-11 NHL season has come to an end for the St. Louis Blues and it is time for us to look back and reflect on the year that was. We will celebrate the highs of an injury plauged season and look forward to what is to come in the next few seasons.
The Blues started the season hot and it looked like this would be a great season for the fans as well as the players. With a 9-1-2 start, the Blues were sitting at the top of the West and one of the top teams in the league.
All of that changed with injuries to David Perron (concussion), TJ Oshie (broken ankle), and Andy McDonald (concussion) among others. The Blues lost over 300 games to injury this season and it hurt their chances to make the playoffs.
Even in the face of these injuries, some players stood out and had career seasons.
David Backes put his stamp on his captaincy quest with a 62 point season. His 31 goals led the Blues and his 31 assists sit one behind the team lead. Backes also put up a +32 rating while playing all 82 games, a feat only Backes and Matt D’Agostini accomplished for the Blues.
Alex Pietrangelo had a stellar ‘rookie’ season as he cemented his place as the Blues #1 defensemen. Alex’s play was so good that the Blues had the flexibility to trade number one overall pick Erik Johnson for some much needed offense. Pietrangelo finished with 43 points, tied with Kevin Shattenkirk for the most by a Blues defensemen.
Pietrangelo is the first Blues defensemen to record more than 40 points in a season since Chris Pronger. Pietrangelo will be joining Team Canada in the World Championships later this summer.
The Blues shocked the NHL world with the Erik Johnson trade. The trade sent EJ and Jay McClement to Colorado for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.
The trade is being seen as a win in St. Louis as Stewart has 15 goals and 8 assists in his 26 games, more than EJ and McClement have combined in Colorado. That is not including the 17 points by Shattenkirk.
Alex Steen dealt with his own injury late in the season but made it back in time to reach a milestone in his career. In the final minute of the final game of the season, Steen ripped a shot past Pekka Rinne for his 100th career goal. Steen and his father become only the second father/son duo to each record 100+ goals in their careers.
Even through the injuries the Blues still boast 6 20+ goal scorers:Backes, Steen, D’Agostini, McDonald, Stewart and Patrik Berglund. Berglund had a career high with 52 points and started to look like the payer he was in his rookie season.
The Blues fared very well against the Eastern Conference this season going 11-4-3 including a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory against Sydney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the season.
Unfortunately the Blues played in the West this year and their 27-29-8 record sank their hopes of a playoff run. The Northwest division was especially unkind to the Blues as they went 7-10-3 including going 1-7 against Colorado and Calgary.
The Blues did finish with a 12-8-4 record against the Central and had some great games against their division rivals.
The 10-3 victory against Detroit stands out as one of the top highlights of the season, especially after giving up 24 goals to the Wings in the previous five games. The final game against the Predators was one of the most complete games played all season and it gave fans a taste of what is to come.
With David Perron potentially coming back, this team has a lot of firepower next year. The Blues will need to have sophomores Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk play like they did this season and avoid the injury bug yet again. Jaroslav Halak will need to be a bit more consistent but he did set a career high with 27 wins this year but can only get better.
The Blues have a lot of RFA to sign this offseason and we will be previewing that process later in the summer but they also need to find a veteran defensemen since the trade of Eric Brewer. A top line center who is consistent on faceoffs will be nice too.
At this point, though, lets celebrate the accomplishments this team had this year and let the nit picking begin later. This team battled through injuries and growing pains but look for them to be in the playoffs again next year and star another string of playoff appearances to rival their last streak.