by PuckStopsHere on 03/30/09 at 03:39 AM ET
One story that has been recently mentioned by James Mirtle and Tom Benjamin is that the St Louis Blues have been playing well lately. Despite a poor start that left them in last place in the West Conference at the end of 2008, with a 14-23 record (3 losses counted as regulation ties), the Blues are back in the playoff race. They are currently in eighth place in the West Conference with 83 points. They would hold a playoff berth by their one point lead over ninth place Anaheim.
A lot of the credit for their success goes to coach Andy Murray. He has done a great job with a young bunch of players who suffered through a lot of injuries this season.
On the ice, the main improvement has come in goal. Manny Legace started off the season for the Blues and did quite poorly (.885 saves percentage). He has been waived. Chris Mason is the number one goalie and is playing well (.917 saves percentage).
Their defence has survived injuries to Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer and is heavily depending upon people like Carlo Colaiacovo, Roman Polak and Mike Weaver. There is little question that this group has overachieved this year. It is not a particularly good defence.
At forward, Paul Kariya got hurt early despite a very good start and a young group including David Perron, David Backes, Patrik Berglund and TJ Oshie has done well. They have joined with veterans Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk. Although there is plenty of potential on the defence, only Boyes has cleared 50 points so far. It is not a deep group at offence. In order to try to find any players who have become hot offensively in the last little while to lead the Blues revival, I sorted the NHL’s top scorers since the beginning of February. There are no Blues until Brad Boyes who is 34th with 24 points in that time frame. TJ Oshie is second at 51st spot with 22 points. This isn’t a group that is dominating the league offensively.
The St Louis Blues have played very well in 2009. They may even put themselves in a playoff spot. I do not think they have the talent to repeatedly play at this level. They do have some good young forwards who should improve in the future, but I do not think they can maintain this level of play. I think that the 2009/10 St Louis Blues will most likely wind up with fewer points than this year’s team. They are a young team that is overachieving that lacks the talent to back up their successes. This is often a step in the recovery of a bad team. It means the Blues are at least a couple years away from being a consistently good team. They will spend longer lost in the wilderness before they begin to consistently compete after their rebuild.
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