Now that baseball season has drawn to a close, St. Louis is once again a hockey town. And with the Blues off to one of the best starts in franchise history, it is easy to see why Blues’ hockey is as important as ever to a city that struggles with a litany of issues.
St. Louis was not supposed to have a team. After nearly losing the Blues to contraction, bankruptcy, and to Saskatoon, it seems the Blues are stable under the ownership of Tom Stillman. Fans have come back to the club, and hope is ever higher for the first July parade down Market St. with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
So what makes this team different from the 50 that came before?
This Blues team seems to fit together more than some in recent memory. Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn have meshed well together. The Blues are finally seeing the potential come to fruition that they saw in Schwartz when he was drafted in the first round.
(Darren Pang interviews Jaden Schwartz after the Blues' home opener.)
It seems whoever the Blues dress for the fourth line, whether it is Beau Bennett, Kyle Brodziak, Dmitri Jaskin, or Magnus Paajarvi, they fill in admirably and play a Blues' style. The bottom six in their lineup forecheck well, can cycle the puck, and play the boards really well.
Alex Pietrangelo has always been an offensive-minded defenseman. With the loss of Kevin Shattenkirk near the deadline last season, Pietro has had to shoulder a larger portion of the load from the blue line. He leads all defensemen with 13 points.
(Pietrangelo beats Matt Murray for the game-winner in a 5-4 win at Pittsburgh.)
The show from the defensive position is not just limited to the captain of the Blues. The booming shot of Colton Parayko has freed up space on the power play. Vince Dunn has also shown he can play at the big league level with a pair of goals.
Defensive minded players like Joel Edmundson and Robert Bortuzzo are helping. With Jay Bouwmeester still on the shelf, the Blues are not missing a beat.
Jake Allen might be the best goaltender in the West. That is high praise in a conference that has the likes of Jonathan Quick, Devan Dubnyk, and Marc-Andre Fleury. He is 7-2-1 with a GAA of 2.46. Since he came back from, what was essentially a lay off to fix his head last season, he has been stellar.
His performance against the Wild in the playoffs last year put him on the national map.
If anyone is better in the conference, it might be his backup, Carter Hutton. Hutton has played in three games, two on the road. He has won all three, has a GAA under two, and a save percentage at .950. He has given up five goals in three games on 101 shots.
Head coach Mike Yeo
Since taking over for the Blues last season, he is 32-10-3. That is on pace for well over 110 points, a mark that will put the Blues in the Presidents’ Trophy race. His offensive style is a stark contrast to what the Blues have seen in recent memory under the likes of Ken Hitchcock and going all the way back to Joel Quenneville.
If this pace continues, Yeo will be considered for some hardware in the offseason, and he will not be alone at the awards ceremony.
While there is still a bunch of hockey left, optimism is high in the Gateway City!
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?