No more of this, Teej. No more.
Preseason predictions are about the only thing that anyone can fill the month of August with. It’s an NHL dead-zone other than maybe a signing here and there. NHL.com’s been running through their “30 Teams in 30 Days,” trying to justify why teams have a shot at the Cup. Today was St. Louis’ turn in an examination as to why they can go deep in the playoffs. Their playoff chances are exactly the same as every other team’s right now – but will they keep it up when the season starts?
I know that repeating the same reason for failure over and over again turns it into an excuse, but NHL.com’s pretty spot on when they say that the injuries that happened last year are the reason for the failed season. I covered the problem back in December, and it got worse from there on out. AHL guys getting 20+ games of experience is great for them, but not great for an already young team who is easily susceptible to blows to the ol’ psyche.
The trade with Colorado to bring in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk is cited as a reason for hope as well; God knows it gave fans enough reason to hope for a late-season rally last year:
Stewart and Shattenkirk will be on the roster from day one, and while Perron isn’t ready to start the season, McDonald and Oshie are healthy and ready to go. General Manager Doug Armstrong spent the summer tinkering with his roster, and only time will tell if he brought in the right pieces to get his team back into the playoffs.
What pieces might those be? Sure, there were a few spare cogs (Brian Elliot will not get STL to the finals. Sorry), but you have to be dense to not realize that NHL.com’s specifically referencing Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott. When you compare those two to the losses of Ty Conklin (horrible season last year) Cam Janssen (a heart and soul guy, but not necessary – sorry, CamSmash), and Nathan Oystrick, there is no comparison. The Blues wound up in the winning column there.
They mention that in their first 38 seasons, the Blues missed the playoffs but three times, and have gone on to miss them five of the last six seasons. That’s a testament to the difficulties of playing in the Western Conference more so than to the state of the team. The past two seasons they finished just barely out of the picture, thanks to injuries that the team’s lack of depth couldn’t overcome. That’s the rub again this year. Stay healthy, and they fulfill THN’s prediction of a 7th place finish. Start getting injured, and the team is in 11th. Everyone knows what the Blues’ are capable of, but no one can make an accurate prediction. I like NHL.com’s, and I like THN’s, but unless the league wants to buy bobble-head helmets like Andy McDonald’s for the entire team, and then wrap T.J. Oshie’s ankles in bubble wrap, I’m not comfortable throwing myself behind any prediction or declaring any correct. There’re just too many “what ifs” to take into consideration before I get my hopes up.
If there’s one prediction I can make based on the last two seasons, it’s that something’ll happen to throw a wrench into the works somewhere. Bank on it.