The St. Louis Blues tallied 109 points in the 2015-16 regular season and reached the Western Conference Finals. It was their deepest postseason run in 15 years. Based off that promising campaign, oddsmakers have installed the Blues as one of the favorites to finally reach the NHL mountaintop. St. Louis has never won the Stanley Cup since its founding in 1967.
The Blues' formula for success last season centered mostly around a stout defense that allowed the fourth-fewest goals in the league (2.40 GAA) and top-notch special teams units. Last season, St. Louis ranked sixth in power plays (21.5 percent) and third in penalty kills (85.1 percent) while goalie Brian Elliot posted the best save percentage in the NHL (.930).
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While those numbers are certainly impressive, if the Blues are to repeat such feats it will be with a revamped cast. Salary-cap restrictions caused St. Louis to lose captain David Backes (21 G, 45 Pts) to Boston via free agency, RW Troy Brouwer (18 G, 39) signed with Calgary and even Elliott was traded to Calgary for draft picks. Can these new-look Blues have the same success in what coach Ken Hitchcock announced will be his final season behind the bench? The odds say there's a big shot, but there are whispers of concern coming out of St. Louis.
2016-17 St. Louis Blues Outlook
The loss of Backes and Brouwer up front removes plenty of offensive firepower from what was just an average scoring team a season ago (2.67 GPG). Not only that, but that pair provided plenty of toughness up front with a combined 439 hits.
Those losses will put even more pressure on the Blues top three scorers from a year ago. Leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (40 G, 74 Pts) is a star on the right wing, while linemate Alexander Steen is coming off a 50-point season (17 G, 52 Pts). They will need to be as good or better if the Blues are to match the offensive production of a season ago. The only new offensive player expected to contribute for St. Louis is David Perren, the projected third-line left wing who tallied 12 goals and 36 points for Pittsburgh and Anaheim combined last season.
The questions up front are just the start for the Blues. It's not often the league-leader in save percentage is shipped out of town, but that was the case with Elliott this offseason. His replacement is Jake Allen. Last year as a backup, the 26-year-old former second-round pick went 26-14-3 with a solid .920 save percentage. The Blues feel Allen is ready to shine in a full-time role. We'll see.
2016-17 St. Louis Blues Future Odds
The Blues are the sixth-shortest price to win the Stanley Cup at +1400. St. Louis is +750 to win the Western Conference and the +325 second-choice to win the Central Division behind the Blackhawks.
2016-17 St. Louis Blues Schedule
The Blues open on the road against the Blackhawks on Oct. 12. While that's certainly no easy task, the early part of the schedule seems manageable for St. Louis. Various non-playoff teams from a season ago dot the calendar in October, including Calgary (twice), Edmonton, Vancouver and Minnesota.
St. Louis Blues 2016-17 Predictions
The Blues were a rock-solid bunch a season ago that was tough to beat. That might not be the case this year. St. Louis lost key players up front, including its captain, one of the league's best goalies and now has a lame duck coach with the replacement-in-waiting also on the staff. There could be some awkward moments with that dynamic if the Blues struggle early. Given all that, a repeat of last year's run to the Western Conference finals would seem a stretch.
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