2020-21 St. Louis Blues Preview
Last Season: 42-19-10 94 pts (1st NHL Central Division)
Key Additions: Torey Krug, Kyle Clifford, Mike Hoffman
Key Departures: Alex Pietrangelo
Top Questions Facing the Blues:
- Can the Blues continue to play solid defense without Alex Pietrangelo?
It’s no secret that Alex Pietrangelo is one of the game’s top defenders. He led the Blues defensively for a decade, and put up a solid 52 points last year. His loss will be felt – there is no sugarcoating that. However, the Blues, after seeing the writing on the wall, stepped up in a big way by signing Torey Krug. While not at the level of Pietrangelo defensively, he would make a great pair with Colton Parayko and buoy the power play (he recorded 26 assists on the PP last year with the Bruins). The hope is Justin Faulk recovers from his less-than-stellar year, and Vince Dunn continues to step up to continue the solid defense in front of Jordan Binnington.
2. What will the leadership of Ryan O’Reilly as captain bring?
This, we can’t say for sure, but can only be a help. Pietrangelo was a great captain, but it was clear that the real leader – both on and off the ice – has always been O’Reilly since he arrived in 2018. O’Reilly has performed game in and game out for two seasons now, and was the leading scorer (and one bright spot) in an otherwise dismal playoff performance last year. I believe ROR will take the work ethic and execution of the team to another level.
3. How will the young players do?
This is one of my questions every year, but it is a necessary one. Last year Robert Thomas put up 42 points in 66 games, and this year he will be given an even larger role and asked to do more. He has the talent – I’d say he is the best skater and playmaker on the team. The only question is – will he execute? If he gets a chance to center Mike Hoffman, look for big things from him this year.
4. How will the team do playing many games in Pacific/Mountain time?
This might be a better question for the fans, but we don’t know how these late starts are going to impact the team. Athletes are always creatures of habit, and throwing them off might have some negative consequences. I don’t foresee it being much of an issue though – though I don’t like it – the bigger issue is probably going to be the competition with the Avalanche.
5. How often should Blues fans be thanking Ryan O’Reilly?
As always, daily.
I would not necessarily say the Blues are better than last year, but Krug and Hoffman are huge additions. I think the division will be tough, especially going against Vegas and the Avalanche, but I still think the Blues and Colorado are the clear favorites. I would give the edge to the Avalanche, but I see no reason why the Blues cannot be competitive during the season and playoffs, and hey, who knows, maybe they’ll be lifting the Cup again as we all remember what it’s like to see other people.
Thanks for reading.