2012-13 Projected Blues Lineup

Monday, 01.14.2013 / 6:00 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
NHL.com


The timeline for teams who have committed to rebuilding through the draft has worked almost like clockwork in cities such as Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington. Absorb many defeats on the ice for two-to-three years, collect high picks and watch the franchise go from pretender to contender almost overnight.

This is not how the script played out in St. Louis. After the Blues were bad for a few years (with a slightly surprising surge toward the middle after hiring Andy Murray mixed in), they made the playoffs in 2008-09 but were knocked out in the first round. Instead of taking the next step forward and becoming a serious contender, the Blues went sideways for two years.

The collection of young talent finally, after another coaching change, put it all together in 2011-12. St. Louis roared toward the top of the Western Conference, winning arguably the strongest division in the League and earning the No. 2 seed for the postseason.

With Ken Hitchcock in charge, the Blues expect their upward development curve to continue. To that end, the only major addition to the lineup this season will likely be top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko. Considering that the only other playoff team from the West last season to add an impact player without subtracting was San Jose -- the team St. Louis dispatched in the first round -- the Blues should be considered one of the favorites to win the conference this season.

Two of the contenders in the Central Division lost franchise defensemen (Detroit and Nashville), while Vancouver's path to a Northwest title (and the No. 1 seed) looks quite a bit tougher after each of the other four teams in the division improved this offseason. Toss in how competitive the Pacific was last year and should be again this season, and the top seed in the West could be a possibility for St. Louis.

The Blues are loaded, and provided Ian Cole is ready for regular NHL minutes, the lineup looks like one of the League's best.

The lineup below does NOT reflect Hitchcock's projected line combinations.

Forwards

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Alexander Steen - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Matt D'Agostini - Scott Nichol - Jamie Langenbrunner

Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk - Barrett Jackman

Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jeff Woywitka

Goaltenders

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

NOTES: Hitchcock will make Tarasenko earn important minutes, but if he's as advertised and the forwards can collectively stay healthy, the Blues are going to score more goals this season. There's so much potential for improvement here beyond adding Tarasenko, whether it is a full season from Perron, McDonald and Steen or Stewart returning to pre-2011-12 form. The team's second-best forward prospect, Jaden Schwartz, could also force his way into the lineup with a strong training camp.

There is less known depth on the blue line, but that perception would change if Cole and Fairchild are ready. Pietrangelo is a star, but he also spent nearly 73 percent of his even-strength ice time with either Carlo Colaiacovo or Kent Huskins, both of whom are no longer with the team. If Cole isn't ready for big minutes, any of Jackman, Shattenkirk or Russell could slide into that spot on the top pairing. If Cole or Fairchild aren't going to be every-night guys, expect them to be sent to the American Hockey League instead of the press box.

Halak and Elliott formed a deadly tandem last season, but Elliott struggled in the playoffs against Los Angeles after Halak got hurt. Expect Halak to see a little more of the workload this season if both guys stay healthy.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Shattenkirk 2 1 3 3 4
V. Tarasenko 2 2 0 3 2
B. Jackman 2 1 1 1 2
C. Porter 2 1 1 2 2
J. Schwartz 2 1 1 2 2
V. Sobotka 2 0 2 3 2
A. Steen 2 1 0 -1 1
A. Cracknell 2 1 0 0 1
J. Leopold 2 0 1 0 1
S. Ott 2 0 1 -1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Miller 2 0 0 .914 2.20

 
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