Why The Blues Can Repeat As Central Division Leaders
The St. Louis Blues ended one of their best seasons in the last decade by going 49-22-11 and 109 points, which was good enough for 1st in the central division and 3rd best in the league. With a disappointing finish in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blues will now focus on the upcoming season and have made the preparations to make another significant run in 2012-2013. TJ Oshie and David Perron were two key re-signings and the Blues also kept Chris Stewart, Jaime Langenbrunner, and Barret Jackman. The Blues will also have a full year and training camp with Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and possibly Ty Rattie. So how will the Blues be able to repeat their success?
First is that goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott will have to have repeat seasons in 12-13. These two were able to provide great goaltending and took home the William Jennings Trophy as the goalie duo with the fewest goals against. These two were possibly the most significant part of the team’s success by keeping the Blues in each game and by stealing wins for the Blues. If the goalie duo can repeat their success and combine for another remarkable 15 shutouts, they can repeat their success.
Next is that the Blues offense has potential to be much better than last season. With the team entering training camp healthy, they will be able to find the chemistry between players and create their lines. Tarasenko is looking very good, and has potential to become a Calder candidate at the end of the season. Schwartz will have a full training camp to practice and workout with the team and get more comfortable to the NHL. Stewart is looking to have a bounce back season and if he plays to his potential, he can put up 30 goals. The most important factor will be health. If the team can stay healthy for the majority of the season, they will finish better than last season.
Lastly is that the Blues defense under Ken Hitchcock has played very well. Alex Pietrangelo has developed into a top defenseman in the league and looks to only be improving. Kevin Shattenkirk is also turning into a top pairing defenseman and both defenders will be entering their final year of their entry-level contracts hoping to prove more than what they have showed. If Hitchcock and the Blues keep their defensive style of system in play, then they can repeat the same success the defense had last year.
Of course there are many possible factors that can affect the team in a positive or negative way, but even as injuries plagued the team last year, they were able to find ways to win and win the Central Division
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