GDHQNHL15_2pg-St. Louis Blues 2

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are ahead of him. While Pietrangelo is the star of this group, there are other players of note that make this a solid area for the team. Pietrangelo’s partner, Jay Bouwmeester (4 goals, 33 assists), is no slouch on the ice. Bouwmeester returned to the level of play that made him a Norris Trophy candidate early on in his career as he surpassed 30 points for the first time since 2008 when he was with the Florida Panthers. His return to this level of play allows Pietrangelo more freedom to roam in the offensive zone. While their top-pair defense is impressive, the depth the Blues have on the blue line is scary. On the second-pair, Kevin Shattenkirk has made himself known around the league as an offensively-gifted defenseman as he put up 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists) during the 2013-14 campaign. Once the playoffs hit, he continued to produce as he led the team in points in the postseason with five (1 goal, 4 assists). Expect more of the same in the upcoming season. Rounding out the top-four is longtime Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. Jackman defines what the steady and reliable defenseman should be as he has not strayed away too far from his level of play in 12 seasons. Goaltending The Blues decided to let Ryan Miller go at the conclusion of the season after acquiring him from the Buffalo Sabres during the year. With that decision, the Blues return to a competition between incumbent Brian Elliot and Jake Allen. In limited time last season, Elliot impressed with a goals-against average of 1.96 and a save percentage of .922. Since 2011, he has had a 1.86 goals-against average and .927 save percentage over that time. The issue is that he hasn’t had to carry the load over the last few seasons as he was splitting time with Jaroslav Halak, now with the New York Islanders. Jake Allen did not play for the big club in St. Louis last year, but impressed enough in his debut during the strike shortened-season of 2012-13 to be invited to compete for the starting job. He managed to play in 15 games that season and came away with a 2.46 goals-against average an underwhelming .905 save percentage. He will need to show more improvement to take playing time away from Elliot in net. Power Play The St. Louis Blues had one of the more impressive power-play units in the league in 2013-14 season. The Blues converted on nearly 20 percent (19.8) of their chances on the man-advantage which placed them eighth in the league. That number was much better earlier in the year and includes a stretch in April that saw the team score on only four of 49 opportunities. The addition of Paul Stastny should further boost the power-play unit in the upcoming season as he scored 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists). An off-ice addition will also look to provide some help to the unit. Kirk Mueller was brought in as an assistant in the off-season and will help run the power-play. (58) Penalty Kill The Blues were one of the stingiest teams in the NHL last season as they allowed only 188 goals for the season. It is no surprise that their stingy nature translated well to the penalty kill. The team finished second in the entire league last year in the penalty kill as they killed off an astounding 85.7 percent of opportunities against them. Paul Stastny Scott Rovak/NHL/Getty Images Defensive-minded forwards like David Backes and Steve Ott, and top-tier defensemen like Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, they have led the charge while on the kill. If there is one area where the team can improve in this area would be to show the ability to score while shorthanded. The team scored six times while down a man last season, good for 16th in the league last season. Prediction The question is not whether the Blues will make the playoffs or not, but instead the question is how far will they go? They have the talent to make a run at the Stanley Cup, now’s the time for the team to carry their success into the playoffs. Scoreboard 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 PLAYOFF FINISH Conf QF Conf QF Conf SF DNQ DNQ REGULAR SEASON 52-23-7 29-17-2 49-22-11 38-33-11 40-32-10 POINT TOTAL 111 60 109 87 90 SHOOTOUT RECORD 9-3 5-1 4-10 6-5 7-5 GOALS SCORED 248 129 210 240 225 GOALS ALLOWED 191 115 165 234 223 POWER PLAY % 19.8 19.5 16.7 18.6 17.2 PENALTY KILL % 85.7 84.7 85.8 81.7 86.8


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