Blues Living Up To Expectations

1/5/14 in NHL   |   kphoeing   |   17 respect

          The St. Louis Blues defeated the Columbus Blue jackets by a score of 6-2 on Saturday, improving to a franchise best 29-7-5 (63 Points) at the halfway point in the season. Before the season started, EA Sports through their NHL 14 simulation and The Hockey News both picked the Blues to end their franchise drought and claim their first ever Stanley Cup win. With how the team is playing this season,. it just might happen. 
          Through the first half of the season, the Blues have had everybody step up and make the big plays when needed, something that they haven't done as good a job of in the past. This year, the St. Louis Blues have a total of 13 players with 10 points or more. The shocking fact is that 11 of those players have 20+ points. There has been a recurring theme this year with these players. There is always someone who steps up and makes big plays, then someone else steps up when the other slumps and so on and so forth. The Blues are playing some of their best hockey and St. Louis fans couldn't be happier.
          Over the course of the first half, the Blues have faced some adversity. Key injuries to Alexander Steen, David Backes, Jordan Leopold, and Ryan Reaves, respectively, have not been too much of a speedbump. Every injury has brought a different task in which the Note have responded well to. California has been the state of misfortune this season, The Blues lost 5 straight games collectively to the Kings, Sharks, and Ducks. With their 5-0 thrashing of the Kings a few days ago, the Blues are looking to break that spell and prove that they are elite. The good news is that the Blues will have to play only one of those three teams ideally in the playoffs with the NHL's realignment that took effect this season. In addition to that, the Blues have yet to lose a game in regulation to a division team this year, posting a 13-0-1 record against division opponents, including a 3-0-0 record against their arch-rival Chicago Blackhawks. 
          The Blues, as I mentioned earlier, have had big showings from many different players. T.J. Oshie has been a play maker this season, with 8 G and 29 A (team-leading). His skating and stick handling ability is elite and has shown year in and year out to be a fierce competitor. T.J. was also rewarded to join Team USA for the upcoming olympics. 
          Jaden Schwartz's performance has been outstanding. This is Jaden's first full 82-game season and has put up NHL leading numbers in plus/minus. (+23). He has put up a total of 32 points and is well on hsi way to put up at least 50 points this year. 
          David Backes has shown up big this year, Along with a Team USA selection, his 16 goals has more than doubled his total from last year. He continues to be a force up on the first line and it's no wonder why he wears the "C".
          The duo of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Buowmeester have been one of the best defensive duos this year. they have put up a combined 47 assists and 55 points along with a +36 rating. These top two defensemen, who both received long term contracts prior to this season are certainly a duo that will be contenders for a while. 
          My last analysis is on the goaltending. The Blues yet again have one of the best goalie duos in the league with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot. Both have followed the recurring theme of one stepping up when the other is down. Elliot started the season a little slow while Halak was playing great. Now, Halak is the one with the slump and it's Elliot who has been solid. Elliot has a 12-1-2 record including 2 shutouts.
          The Blues currently sit in second place in the Central Division behind the Blackhawks. While the Hawks have 3 more points than the Blues, the Blues have 3 games in hand, which could be a crucial advantage come the end of the season. They have been playing extremely well this season, posting the highest goals for/against ratio in the NHL with a +55 rating. The Blues have won their last 5 in a row and I would look for that to continue with three games in Canada in the upcoming week. Keep an eye out on the Blues this season as I think they'll play in the Conference Final this year if not farther. The Blues have been a very strong team this year and hockey fans should keep an eye out on the Blues when they come rolling in to an arena near you. 

As always, you can follow me on twitter for Blues insight @KevinHoeing9
Thanks for reading---
Kevin Hoeing
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