The St. Louis Blues polished off a remarkable season with a second round exit at the hands of eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The Blues played in arguably the hardest division, which saw four tams finish with over 100 points. The NHL just released the 2012-13 schedule, and it will not get any easier for the Blues.
The Blues start the season off on a two-game road trip, playing the season opener in Colorado before heading to Nashville. Opening against Colorado will be a great test for both teams, as the Blues will be able to continue to see how their blockbuster trade at the 2011 Trade Deadline is panning out. Colorado gets to test themselves against one of the top teams in the Western Conference as they look to be back in a playoff spot when the season is over.
The Blues will host the Detroit Red Wings in the home opener. The Red Wings have been one of the Blues' top rivals for many past years, and to open against them is a great move. It will be one of the best atmospheres Scottrade has seen in its history.
The Blues do not have really any big aspects to their schedule over the course of the season. The longest homestand and road trip are each five games, but there are two such road trips and only one five-game homestand. The homestand comes in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, giving the Blues an edge during the holiday season. The end of that home stand will be a great benchmark to see how the team is doing compared to this past season.
The first five-game road trip is from late January to early February and is mainly an Eastern Conference road trip. It will be right after the All-Star break and should not be much of a hiccup because the majority of the team will be rested from the break. It will also be a way to start the second half of the season on a difficult, but potentially great, start.
However, the second five-game road trip could not come at a worse time. The Blues finish five of their last six games on the road, playing in Tampa Bay, Miami, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago before facing off in St. Louis against Chicago in the season finale. Facing three divisional opponents in the last three games of the season could make for a very interesting final week for the entire NHL depending on how each team does over the course of the season.
The average point total of the Blues' opponents this upcoming season will be 90.54 points, which would be in between the 8 and 9 seeds of both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Blues then will essentially have a successful season if they manage to make the playoffs this upcoming season statically speaking. The fans and players, of course, will want more.
A schedule does not hold much of a factor in hockey, where every team has the same ratio of divisional, conference, and inter-conference games. What really matters is the conference and division you play in. With the Blues playing in at least the second toughest division in the NHL, every game will be a must-win game.