Fighting out of the highly competitive Central Division, the St. Louis Blues are coming off a respectable 2021-22 season. Wrapping up with a third-place playoff berth (49-22-11 overall record) in the Western Conference and a second-round loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues no doubt have high expectations for the upcoming season. In retrospect, the Blues topped out at a total of 109 points which was third best in franchise history and their 3.77 goals-per-game average was the fifth best ever.
The Blues top three lines all produced at least 20 goals each in 2021-22 which was a league high last season. With nine players all credited with that many goals, it’s no wonder that the Blues had one of the most potent offenses in the history of this organization. In addition, the Blues also registered 12 consecutive games where they put in at least four goals per game. The offensive lineup of Robert Thomas (20-57-77), Pavel Buchnevich (30-46-76), Jordan Kyrou (27-48-75) and Ivan Barbashev (26-34-60) chalked up season highs for each of these players. Kyrou just signed a huge eight-year deal worth $8.125 million dollars annually and stays in St. Louis through the 203-31 season. Not to be outdone, veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko used 2021-22 as a personal best season for assists and total points with 34 goals, 48 assists and 82 points. Despite losing four forwards to either trades or free agency last year, the Blues were able to build a goal-scoring machine that helped propel them into the postseason.
The Blues made defensive strides last season as well.
While the Blues owed much of their success last season to a red-hot offensive prowess, the defense showed improvement as well. The NHL as a league last year had the highest scoring in 26 years and the Blues moved up their goals allowed per game average to 2.92 which placed them eleventh in the league and down from a previous year’s average of 2.98 goals per game. Justin Faulk anchored the defense and was fifth in the NHL for defenseman goals scored with 16. The Blues special teams made great strides last season and finished second on the power play with 27.0% which hit franchise highs. Despite the ups and downs of the Blues goalie revolving door (five goalies protected the pipes last year), the Blues were steady enough to make a playoff run.
Predictions for the 2022-23 season.
As training camp rapidly approaches, the Blues should repeat their record last year and find a way to make it to the playoffs. Only one team can win the Stanley Cup each season; however, the Blues have the pieces in play to have a winning record and possibly make it again to the second round of the playoffs. The biggest question mark right now for the Blues is goaltender Jordan Binnington who will be expected to step up his game this season. While the Blues seem comfortable in third place in the Central Division, they won’t have the spark to fully challenge the Wild or the Avalanche in the postseason and will likely finish up this season the same way they did last year. There are teams in the NHL who play just to make it through 82 games; there are teams who look to the playoffs and then there are clubs who aim each year for nothing less than the Stanley Cup. The Blues fit the playoff contender role very well and will find themselves playing in at least one playoff round next spring. St. Louis has been a baseball town for ages and has rightly developed a reputation for being a hockey-loving town as well.
Blues regular season prediction: 51-20-11.