As we head into this final week before the 2013-14 regular season gets underway, the St. Louis Blues once again come into a year in which they are expected to be among the serious contenders for a Stanley Cup title out of the Western Conference. Last year, they were favored to do so before fizzling out in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Is there reason to think that this year will be any different? There’s no doubt that the Blues boast a pretty deep roster, are a well-rounded club, have good goaltending (when Jaroslav Halak is healthy), and play that gritty style of game that goes a long way in the postseason.
That doesn’t mean that this team is a lock for a deep playoff run. In fact, their lack of impact players on offense could hold them back from being true contenders this season. While they do sport some talent in that aspect of their roster, they may lack the overall goal production to get where they want to be.
In an abbreviated season last year, 36 points was the leading total for the Blues, coming from Chris Stewart, who had an even split between goals and assists. The next closest was just 28, which was David Backes. Of his 28 points on the year, only six came from putting the puck in the net.
This is a roster that is largely unchanged from last year. They did add Magnus Paajarvi and Derek Roy, but Paajarvi isn’t much more than a third line player, at least at this point, and Roy is not the player that he once was. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Blues rank in the second half of the league in goals per game again this year.
Of course, the fact that the Blues do play in that defensive system that emphasizes physicality does help to compensate for what they do lack in the offensive end. But when it comes down to it, though, they simply are not talented enough, or at least don’t have the type of impactful players on offense, to take home a Stanley Cup title in 2013-14.