Why the Blues Could Claim the Cup

Friday, 04.13.2012 / 8:30 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
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Why the Blues Could Claim the Cup


There will be a narrative that dominates the discussion about the St. Louis Blues in the next few days -- that they are too inexperienced in the postseason to be a serious threat to claim the Stanley Cup.

Don't believe it.

While many of the Blues' key skaters are short on Stanley Cup Playoff experience, there are guys on this team that have been through the postseason wars. More importantly, the Blues have the necessary components to thrive in the postseason and claim the Stanley Cup.

The Big Why: First, St. Louis is better at preventing goals than anyone. Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have already secured a trip to Las Vegas for the postseason awards show by allowing the fewest goals in the NHL this season to earn the Jennings Trophy. The Blues have allowed 1.89 goals per game this season.

Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and the Blues prevented goals better than anyone in the NHL, and that's one big reason why the Blues are a serious postseason threat. Get complete Playoff coverage at stlouisblues.com/playoffs
Halak is one of those guys who has playoff experience -- he carried Montreal to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago. Forwards Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner have both won the Cup, and could provide a valuable calming experience, as well as wisdom.

The second thing St. Louis excels at is controlling the play at even strength. There are fewer penalties called during the postseason, so five-on-five play is even more important. The Blues have allowed 101 goals at even strength -- 20 fewer than anyone else. Their five-on-five goals for/against ratio is 1.35, which is second in the League behind Detroit.

St. Louis puts nearly four shots more per game on net more than its opponents (3.9), which is the fourth-biggest advantage behind San Jose, Pittsburgh and Detroit. The Blues have gotten better goaltending than any of those three teams.

Alex Pietrangelo has become a Norris Trophy contender and true No. 1 defenseman. Kevin Shattenkirk has been a great addition in his first full season, and gives St. Louis a potent one-two offensive punch from the blue line.

The Big Uh-Oh: This team doesn't have a lot of weaknesses, depending on how much the experience issue actually plays into their journey. There are a lot of nice pieces on offense, but there might not be a guy who can carry the team at that end when others are struggling to score.

David Perron, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen have returned from injuries, while David Backes has become a top two-way center. There is also serious depth at forward, as the Blues can ice three scoring lines with plenty of grit on them as well. Will they score enough?

The Final Argument: Then there is coach Ken Hitchcock, who has plenty of playoff experience behind the bench. He might end up being a valuable weapon when playoff series can turn on one line matchup, or one intermission adjustment. Don't believe the negative hype -- St. Louis is one of the three or four best teams in the NHL and a serious contender for the Cup. And not next season or the one after that, either -- the Blues can win right now.

Get complete Playoff coverage at stlouisblues.com/playoffs

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 76 46 23 7 229 190 99
4 CHI 76 46 24 6 217 176 98
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 76 44 27 5 219 204 93
7 CGY 77 42 28 7 229 204 91
8 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
9 LAK 76 37 25 14 201 192 88
10 DAL 77 37 30 10 239 248 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 76 35 29 12 206 213 82
13 EDM 76 23 40 13 185 255 59
14 ARI 77 23 46 8 161 256 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 76 36 35 25 71
A. Steen 73 24 38 6 62
J. Schwartz 69 24 32 12 56
D. Backes 75 25 29 6 54
T. Oshie 67 19 33 13 52
P. Stastny 68 14 29 3 43
A. Pietrangelo 76 6 36 -6 42
J. Lehtera 69 11 29 16 40
K. Shattenkirk 51 8 32 15 40
P. Berglund 71 9 13 -7 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 24 14 3 .919 2.20
J. Allen 19 6 4 .906 2.45

 
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