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Season Series Preview: St. Louis Blues


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2011 Home Record Against: 1-1-1
All Time Home Record Against: 20-10-3-4

2011 Away Record Against: 1-2-0
All Time Away Record Against: 17-18-1-2

All Time Record Against: 37-28-4-6

Since the lockout, the St. Louis Blues have struggled a bit, finishing with 90 or less points in 5 of the 6 seasons. They’ve only made the playoffs once (2008-2009, losing 0-4 to Vancouver) and have seen players on their team come and go during this rough rebuilding phase they seem to be in.

However, there may be a glimmer of hope for the Blues and their storied franchise, along with their suffering fanbase. The re-signings of Sobotka, Crombeen, D’Agostini and the additions of Jonathan Cheechoo, Jamie Langenbrunner, and former Preds Jason Arnott and Scott Nichol have pumped a bit of faith into their fans, yet it comes with certain bit of skepticism.

Langenbrunner, Arnott, and Nichol are entering the twilight of their careers while Cheechoo is coming back from a season where he played ONE game in the NHL for the Senators and that was pretty much all. Can these four veterans really contribute to a young rebuilding franchise? Nichol is fearless, no question about it, and he’ll continue to grind away for whatever team takes him until he can no longer tie up his skates. However, the other 3 are where the concern lies in my opinion.

Langenbrunner is 36 years old. His production dropped off by nearly 30 points last season and it was the first season he was held under 10 goals since the 1995-1996 season (albeit he only played 12 games that year, but still had 2 goals). He’s playing with a team other than Dallas/New Jersey for the first time in his career. The two-time Stanley Cup champion still has the ability to contribute to a team, but this may be his last, if not next to last, season.

Arnott is 36 years old as well. His production has dropped for 3 years in a row (57 pts, 46 pts, 31 pts in the last 3 years respectively). However, after first-hand experience of seeing Arnott play for four years with the Predators, the one thing that could be more of a detriment to the Blues than anything else is Arnott’s work ethic. Arnott has the uncanny ability to “take shifts off” throughout the game. Don’t believe me? Watch him play about 20 games in a season and you may reconsider. He can be a game-changer if he want’s to be, however Arnott plays on his on schedule, which can be a HUGE hamper on younger players.

As for Cheechoo? Flash back to 2006. Cheechoo had just won the Maurice Richard Trophy with 56 goals and nearly eclipsed the 100 point barrier on his season (93 points). He had at least doubled his goal production in each of the last two seasons (9 two years prior and 28 the year before). Over the next 4 years, the powerhouse forward would experience multiple injuries and chemistry issues with his linemates and his overall production would drop from his 93 point high to 29 points in 2009. He was traded to Ottawa (for Dany Heatley), was waived, ended up on the AHL roster, and hasn’t played an NHL game since. A chance at redemption, though, in St. Louis is available.

In the past 3 years, Nashville has gone 9-6-3 against their now-closest neighbor (316 miles), including 4-2-3 at home and 5-4-0 in the ScottTrade center. It is a winning record, yes, however it’s a drastic change from the 3 years prior to that where the Predators went 20-3-1 against the Blues. Yes, that wasn’t a typo or an extra zero, 20-3-1 in 3 years. So what’s been the big change? Besides Nashville missing a true top 6 forward since the firesale of 2007, St. Louis has slowly increased their roster since the lockout including picking up star Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak one year ago. However since the team has been listed as being for sale for the past 5 months, one wonders if that could be an increased stress on the team, players, and their fans.

With the strides St. Louis has been slowly making over the years and the talent they’ve been producing, one can only think coach Davis Payne can overcome the struggles of the business side of the game and get this team back to the playoffs. However, will it come at the expense of the Predators?

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