St. Louis Blues NHL Hockey 2011-12 Season Preview
The St. Louis Blues were an unfortunate victim of the tough Western Conference last season. Finishing the year with 38 wins and 87 points wasn’t enough for them to even sniff a post season berth, and the climb will continue to be uphill this season.
It should be exciting heading into the season however, as a full season with Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk in the fold might be enough to get the Blues over the hump this year. Stewart and Shattenkirk were acquired midseason in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues sent defenseman Erik Johnson and a first round pick as a centerpiece and received the bruising power forward and young blueliner in return. Stewart is just 23 years old and had 15 goals and 23 points in just 25 games after St. Louis acquired him. He’s got 30 goal potential for many years to come as long as he continues to play the same way. Shattenkirk in his first season in the NHL finished with nine goals and 43 points and averaged always twenty minutes of ice time a night as a 22 year old rookie.
Adding those two players to the corps the Blues have in place could prove to be a recipe for success. Center Andy McDonald had 20 goals and 50 points last year, David Backes scored 31 times and produced 62 points, and Alex Steen and Matt D’Agostini combined for 41 goals and 97 points. The youth and talent is there in St. Louis, and now is the time for them to put it all together.
Looking to help the young talent on the team, general manager Doug Armstrong went out and secured some veterans in the offseason. Armstrong brought in Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, two forwards who know each other well from their success in New Jersey with the Devils. Both of them have won Stanley Cups and should be able to contribute offensively as well for the Blues.
David Perron should return to the lineup at some point after the start of the season, and the Blues are looking forward to his return. Perron played in only 10 games last season due to a concussion. In the two season prior Perron scored 35 goals and had 97 points.
Jaroslav Halak performed well last year, posting a 27-21-7 record and a 2.48 goals against average. Halak’s health is a key factor for the Blues who don’t necessarily have a reliable backup if he gets injured.