Cleat Geeks

Dually Noted: The Preseason Roundup and What to Expect

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

2015 marked the deepest playoff run for the St. Louis  Blues in a very long time. They upset the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks,  beat the Dallas Stars and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the San José Sharks. The question is if they can build on that and make a big run on what is their 50th anniversary. After the run they had last year, there is no doubting that expectations will be very high for the Blues to make a deep run for the Cup yet again.

The biggest news on the management side of things is that the 2016 regular season is the last year that they have Ken Hitchcock as head coach. The Blues have hired Mike Yeo as the assistant coach for this year’s club and he will take over as head coach once Hitchcock leaves. Even though Yeo is not the head coach right now, having a fresh pair of eyes behind the bench should help give the Blues the extra spark that they need to succeed in Hitchcock’s last year and the future and this upcoming season should also give Mike Yeo some good ideas about how to improve the team once he takes over.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

As for the Blues themselves, the roster took a big hit at the end of the season when they lost three of their top guys in David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott. The good news is that there is enough of the core left that can make a big impact this season. Vladimir Tarasenko will be returning after a strong 2015 season and a strong World Cup showing for his home country of Russia. Tarasenko has a history of scoring the big goals when the team needs them most. He had 40 goals and 30 assists during the 2015 run and many more are coming for this year’s run if he keeps playing like he has been. Alexander Steen is re-signed to a 4-year deal with the Blues. He had 17 goals and 35 assists last season. He’ll need to lower those penalty minutes as he had 78 penalty minutes last season. If he can do that and score more goals, every penny of that new contract is worth it.

Another big player to keep an eye on is the new captain for 2016, Alex Pietrangelo. While he did not get many goals in 2015, he was a big asset when it came to assists. He had 30 assists during last year’s season. He will have big shoes to fill as he replaces David Backes as the captain. A key for him will be getting more goals and proving he deserves to wear that “C” on his jersey.

The biggest hurdle for the Blues will be getting over the big loss of the goalie that helped them get as far as they did last season, Brian Elliott. Luckily, they still have Jake Allen returning. Allen had a good year in 2015 winning 26 of his 44 starts in the 2015 season and he recorded 6 shutouts. His goals against average was 2.35 during the regular season and 2.49 during the playoffs. Both of those numbers are good and it will be interesting to see if he can get the season going on a high note.

There’s so much excitement going into the 2016-2017 season and despite the big losses the team had in the off-season, this team has enough in them to overcome those losses and adapt to them. They are already off to a good start with some preseason wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars. All they have to do is keep opposing team goals down, take advantage of all their opportunities on the power play and most of all, stay hungry. As far as Hitchcock’s coaching, as long as he does not try to fix the lines that are not broken, he will have a very successful last year. Overall, Blues fans have plenty of good things to look forward to for the year ahead.

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