Hockey

St. Louis Blues Season Preview

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues won the Cup in 2019, and it seemed like they had a wide open window for more championship success. But after last year, an underwhelming team that barely snuck into the playoffs only to be considered one of the worst teams in recent playoff memory by bloviating experts (who turned out to be right)–it’s easy to question whether or not that window has closed.

Vladimir Tarasenko has now had three shoulder surgeries and certainly didn’t look like the big body and quick shot that St. Louis Blues fans have become accustomed to last year. There’s also that whole thing where he has no desire to be with the St. Louis Blues because the team doctors were, you know, a little loose with his health (shoulder shrug).

The Offense

Predicted Line Combos:

First Line

LW: Vladimir Tarasenko        C: Ryan O’Reilly        RW: David Perron

Second Line

LW: Brandon Saad        C: Brayden Schenn        RW: Pavel Buchnevich

Third Line

LW: Klim Kosten/Zach Sanford        C: Robert Thomas        RW: Jordan Kyrou

Fourth Line

LW: Ivan Barbashev        C: Oscar Sundqvist        RW: Zach Sanford/Mackenzie MacEach

Why not put Tarasenko, if he is still a member of the St. Louis Blues (he likely will be), on a line with two best friends, right? The chemistry between O’Reilly and Perron makes this top line one of the best in the NHL when they are really humming, and adding a possible (and former) 30 goal scorer to the group certainly helps.

The Blues aren’t going to be a team of blazing skill. Instead, they will beat you with consistency and systematic buy-in. However, the addition of Buchnevich–another” masterpiece by Doug Armstrong–gives you the upside of Mike Hoffman’s goal scoring ability while actually being worthwhile 5 on 5. 

On the third line, St. Louis Blues fans should finally get to see Klim Kosten, who is about as hyped as Jordan Kyrou was for all the years that he was stuck in the minors. If Robert Thomas turns in the truly elite center-man he has been projected to be, and Jordan Kyrou continues his ascent, sparks could fly. In all likelihood, we’ll see Zach Sanford rotated between the third and fourth line.

The Backend

Projected Pairs:

First Pair

LD: Marco Scandella        RD: Colton Parayko

Second Pair

LD: Torey Krug        RD: Justin Faulk

Third Pair

LD: Niko Mikkola        RD: Robert Bortuzzo

Colton Parayko has proven to be much more effective when he is playing with a fellow big man. Playing along side Scandella should bring out the best in him, which could mean that he’d be a contender for the Norris Trophy.

This second pair is an anathema to everything the Blues were before last season. Krug and Faulk are both small, offensive minded D-men who;should be dangerous in the offensive zone, but a liability defensively.

Mikkola proved last year to be a viable D-man who could arguably crack the top four if it weren’t for an already impressive group. Bortuzzo is a system player who knows the Blues system well. Also, he’s not afraid to punch his teammates.

The St. Louis Blues will yet again be turning to Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso in goal. Husso had a bit of a rough go of it last year, but apparently the St. Louis Blues trust him enough to keep him as a back-up. Remember, he was the goalie waiting in the wings before he got injured in 2018-2019. He would have been called up, but instead it was Jordan Binnington.

Depth will be the key concern again for the Blues in the 2021-2022 campaign. If they are able to stay healthy, they’ll be a tough draw, night in and night out. However, if that depth is tested, we could see the Blues fade away in the central division.

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