Sunday, May 06, 2012
Thanks For Coming Out, St. Louis Blues
One of the good things for the Blues this season was to pick-up Ken Hitchcock for a middling Davis Payne 13 games into the season. Hitch got the teams mindset focused on the goal at hand and made them a better team all around. For a team that's still trying to find their identity, the need for someone like Hitchcock was crucial.
However, the downside of things could be draw to the Game Two collision in Round One between Barret Jackman and Jaroslav Halak; putting Halak out for the rest of the playoffs with an undisclosed injury. And while Brian Elliott was able to shoulder the load against the Sharks, the Kings seemed to have Elliott's number, making critics talk about Elliott being back to his old mediocre ways rather than the All-Star swagger he had in the beginning of the season.
And speaking of Jackman, thanks to this short run-- people realized that he was still in the league, despite him being a -8 in the playoffs. Other than Jackman, the defense for the Blues was middling; with Kris Russell being the top rated defenseman and Alex Pietroangelo not being at 100% after Game Two of the series-- but even so, the Blues could have used a little more veteran experience on the blue line.
More veteran experience overall would be something that could have been helpful. Sure, Jamie Langenbrunner and Andy McDonald do have a lot of miles on them, but to have the worry about the rest of that youthful team is something that few players can do on their own and be successful. McDonald, at least, regained his underrated form in the playoffs with five goals and 10 points for his nine games. The upside is that each playoff run, regardless of the length, will help the youth nucleus of the Blues roster for years to come.
At the end of the day, the Blues were a surprise team for the season with how they've been able to rise up the ranks of the NHL so quickly. Right now, the focus is on whether or not the Blues can actually maintain this pace and build off this season or whether they'll still need to be reminded of needing an identity next season.