The time is upon us once again. Today is Blues Homer Opener Eve and the ‘Note looks ready to tackle the first game of the regular season tomorrow night at the Scottrade Center here in St. Louis. I no longer post my opinions over at BleedinBlue.com, but by no means should you avoid it. That’s my go-to site for Blues news.
I will prognosticate on all things St. Louis Blues (sounded good in my head) here on my lonely little corner of the internet and if you like what you read, or want to rip me a new one, please say so in the comments. Share my link and get some of your Blackhawks, Kings, or dare I say, Red Wings fan friends over here to spar with me!
On to the matter at hand. The Blues open the 2014-15 campaign Thursday, October 9 at home versus the New York Rangers. The roster of 23 was finalized yesterday morning after practice and the team looks ready to blow away last year’s offensive numbers. On paper. I’m very happy with the way the roster rounded out, especially in that Magnus Paajarvi won a spot as an extra forward in what is probably the deepest group the Blues have had in almost a decade.
Osh shows off the new road jersey
Here’s what the lines might look like tomorrow night. Regardless of the combinations, we know they’ll be sporting new sweaters.
Patrik Berglund – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Alexander Steen – Peter Stastny – Joakim Lindstrom
Jaden Schwartz – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko
Steve Ott – Maxim Lapierre – Ryan Reaves
Extras: Paajarvi and Chris Porter
Alex Pietrangelo – Jay Bouwmeester
Kevin Shattenkirk – Ian Cole
Barret Jackman – Jordan Leopold
Coach Ken Hitchcock has already penciled Brian Elliott in as the starter in goal, explaining that with only 9 games this month both he and rookie Jake Allen will see playing time early on. Goaltending might be the only area the Blues don’t appear to be stacked, as neither Ells nor Allen has been a “true” number one goalie for any length of time. Hopefully the competition between the two netminders pushes them both to play lights-out.
The sparse October schedule is also the reason given for not placing newcomer Carl Gunnarsson on IR and keeping someone like local (Chaminade) product Chris Butler or Petteri Lindbohm on the big club roster. Gunnar (and Hitch) apparently feel he’s close to returning to contact and might even see game action by next week. St. Louis has a 4-day break between Game 2 this Saturday and Game 3 a week from Thursday. The Blues didn’t want to pay an extra defenseman to sit on the bench for 2 weeks.
My D-pairings are really just an educated guess and I’ve already heard something different:
Frankly those who are already Blues fans know the forward lines could change too after the first shift. Recently the coach mentioned he was liking the way Lehtera and Lindstrom were skating together, but Lehtera-Tarasenko was raved about since the start of camp. Hitch is all about chemistry, but if he sees something on the ice he rarely hesitates to make changes to his lines on the fly.
St. Louis scored 239 goals last season, tied for 6th in the league (with San Jose.) That was the best showing by the Blues in a decade. The additions up the middle if the ice of Stastny and Lehtera could mean an outbreak of offense the likes of which few current fans have ever seen. St. Louis led the league in Goals For in 1996-97 with 256. This year’s squad could rival that total from just their forwards. Don’t laugh, this is as deep a bunch as I can remember and the Blues could very well have multiple 25+ goal scorers this season.
Forward Jaden Schwartz now wears #17 in honor of his sister. Schwartz wore #9 last season
Yes, I’m drinkin’ the Kool-Ade, I always do. I was laughing yesterday with a co-worker about how almost every October Blues fans are excited and pumped-up only to be exhausted and deflated come the following Summer. I’m expecting HUGE things from the Blues this season, and anything short of (at least) a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals will be disappointing. Another quick playoff exit will likely also mean the last St. Louis fans see of Ken Hitchcock behind the bench.
The Blues start this season smack in the middle of (another) St. Louis Cardinals playoff run. I always Bleed Blue but the city is draped in red for now and I’m happy to root the Cards towards the World Series yet again. MLB Playoffs will make for some television conflicts as Game 1 of the NLCS coincides with the Blues game on Saturday, but that’s okay, I have 2 TVs ;)
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!