Blues Deserve More Postseason Respect
The playoff matchups have not been set in stone yet, but it is not too early to say these words: Don't overlook the St. Louis Blues. I know, I know, they've disappointed their backers recently, bowing out of the playoffs in the first round each of the last three years. And this year they have dealt with numerous injuries. But that's the point; the Blues are a superb team that aren't getting much respect. That spells opportunity in our circles.
Missing In Action
The best way to explain this year's Blues season is to say that it has been one of pure survival. They've had a constant roster triage from injuries all year. Key players such as Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund and both goalies, have gone down at one time or the other during the season. But with the Blues, that just gives other players a chance to step in and step up. As a result, seven players have 10 or more goals, and 10 have 30 or more points. Their current goalie situation Is a good example. Jake Allen went out this week with a lower body injury, and will be re-evaluated before the playoffs. That's OK. Brian Elliott fills in with a 2.03 goals against average and three shutouts in the last two weeks. With 71 points in 78 games, Vladimir Tarasenko has been the one solid piece of the puzzle.
All told, St. Louis has passed the 100-point plateau for the season, is in a dogfight with Dallas and Chicago for the Central Division crown, and ranks in the top five in the league in goals against, power play percentage and penalty kill percentage. And they're still an underdog in many minds.
"It's fine by us," Blues captain David Backes. He's also on the injury list. "We've been on the other side of that coin, where we've been picked and disappointed. Now, maybe we get to play that underdog role, lower expectations, just come in and, whoever we play, just get our game out there."
Challenge In the West
If the season ended now, the Blues would be matched with the Chicago Blackhawks for the first round of the playoffs, a rival-fueled pairing of monstrous proportions. With Anaheim, Los Angeles and Dallas also in the Western Conference, it would surely be a tough task. But the Blues had won seven of eight going into Thursday's matchup with the Blackhawks, their penultimate regular season game. Just don't overlook them. Currently on the futures board at 6-1 to win the Western Conference, I'd say the Blues are a good investment.
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