St. Louis Blues season preview
The St. Louis Blues were arguably one of the biggest disappointments of last season. They missed the playoffs because they completely underperformed, but this is a pretty strong roster if you ask me. They just need more guys to step up. I think they can finish third in this division if they play up to their standards.
The biggest frustration for St. Louis this past season was the power play. After finishing with the league’s second-best conversion rate in 2021-22 (27%), the Blues dropped all the way to 22nd last year (19.3%). The Blues will need their younger veterans like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to truly elevate their games to the next level. These two are the stars now that Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are gone. Adding another veteran in Kevin Hayes should make them stronger down the middle as well.
The Blues were very average offensively last season, but they have the personnel to succeed. Kyrou, Thomas, Hayes, Pavel Buchnevich, and Brayden Schenn can all score goals. They just need to find consistency. Torey Krug and Justin Faulk can also help provide offense from the blue line.
One of the other major reasons why the Blues weren’t able to make the playoffs last season was their inability to keep the puck out of their own net. They didn’t make many changes to their back-end, so I don’t expect the defense to be any better this season. At the same time, they completely underperformed last season.
St. Louis finished with the sixth-worst goals against average in the league (3.63) and the eighth-worst scoring chances against per 60. Even though the team has some recognizable names on the blue line, like Krug, Faulk, and Colton Parayko, the struggles may continue in the defensive zone.
Last season was one that Jordan Binnington would soon like to forget. That was, by far, his worst year out of the five that he’s participated in for the Blues. Binnington had an .894 save percentage with a 3.31 goals against average and finished 97th with a -9.2 goals saved above expected. We’ve seen what he’s capable of when he’s at the top of his game, but the question is if he can once again find that. With the departure of Thomas Greiss, Joel Hofer will be his backup, and he has only started in eight career games, so time will tell with him.
Player To Watch – F Robert Thomas
Thomas had a very disappointing 2022-23 season, finishing with two fewer goals and 12 fewer points than the year prior. With that said, he is an electrifying young talent who was a big part of their Stanley Cup championship back in 2019. As this team’s first-line center, Thomas has a ton of responsibility and this team needs him to be at his best in order to compete. He can easily be a 25+ goal scorer if he figures it out.
At best, the Blues will be competing for a wild card position. I don’t think they’re strong enough to finish in the top three of the division, but I also know that they shouldn’t be as weak as they were last year. Goaltending will be their biggest question mark.