With two games left in the season and the Blues heading to another summer without playoff hockey, it's a good time to reflect on the season that was. The next few installments will focus on the team awards and we start off with the MVP award for this season.
The Blues team MVP was clearly a one horse race as many players were out with injuries, had down years, or were traded away before the deadline. The MVP was a constant throughout the entire season, as he did not miss a single game as of this writing; 80 games for 80 games.
David Backes asserted himself as a prime time player this season and showed that his 31 goal season of two years ago was no fluke. With two games to go, Backes has netted 30 goals, including his 100th career goal against Calgary on April 1st.
Those 30 goals lead the Blues and his 60 points are a career high, besting his point total of 54 two seasons ago. Backes showed a consistency for once in his career as well, scoring almost half of his points at home and the other half on the road. This consistency also points to a maturity in his game that has not been there in previous years.
With Backes, though, it isn’t all about the goals and the points. Backes has shown leadership throughout his tenure in St. Louis and this season was his test for captaincy. Through the injuries to TJ Oshie, David Perron, Andy McDonald, Jaroslav Halak and Vladimir Sobotka; Backes’ style of play did not change.
His ability to put his nose to the grindstone and work hard no matter who was playing rubbed off on the rest of the team and helped role players become more than that. Matt D’Agostini, Chris Porter, Phil MacRae, Ryan Reaves, Sobotka when not injured, all had better than average seasons because of the confidence they got from Backes and his leadership during the injuries.
Another sign that Backes is the MVP and a shoe-in for captain are the statistics he put up after the Blues traded Captain Eric Brewer on February 18th. Backes recorded ten goals and nine assists in that time span, showing that you can trade a captain but you can’t trade a teams’s heart.
Backes also has given back to his community as well, another key reason he is seen as the leader of this team. Backes work with the Humane Society of St. Louis and his appearences with the team show that he is willing to put himself out to the fans.
Backes also faces the media after wins AND losses, a rare feat in pro sports. David will talk about the good things and the bad things that went on in the game and does not shy away from media.
David has a +30 rating and that is a testament to, not only his play, but that of the defensemen and goalies behind him. Their willingness to block passes and shots shows the respect Backes has on this team, even one that is losing.
David’s physical game play rounds out his persona. He will take a hit, deliver a hit and drop the gloves if needed. He will protect his teammates and the logo on the front of the jersey.
To wrap up, 60 point season, 30 goals (team lead), leadership, dedication, community involvement, and physical play by David Backes all lead to him being the team MVP. Next stop is the captaincy.