Blues Youth Movement Underway

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Blues Youth Movement Underway

The St. Louis Blues youth movement is underway and it is definitely showing. After 13 games this season the Blues sit at 5-7-1, for a total of 11 points. This leaves them dead last in the Western Conference.

Even though it may seem like a disappointment, this season has provided some great moments and glimpses of many great days ahead.

Forwards:

At the start of the season one name dominated the talk of the Blues forwards. TJ Oshie's debut was the most highly anticipated event of this season and he has yet to disappoint.

Oshie has played in 10 games this season and has two goals and two assists. His motor has been incredible and he seems to give 110 percent every shift of every game. Unfortunately Oshie was injured in a game against Pittsburgh and has missed the last three with a high ankle sprain.

Patrik Berglund is also a rookie that is surprising this year. Berglund started off slowly this season but has caught fire in the last five games. In those games Berglund has tallied three goals, two assists, and has a plus-2 rating.

If Berglund continues his physical and smart play he could wind up winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie this year.

One forward who has stepped it up this year is Andy McDonald. McDonald's speed has been impressive this year and has led to his four goals and 12 assists so far. If line-mate Brad Boyes continues his scoring ways and Lee Stempniak reverts back to his 2006 self, then McDonald can put up huge numbers.

On the flip side is the play of David Perron. Perron has shown flashes of brilliance in his sharp passes, leading to his eight assists. But his lack of consistency is troubling.

Perron has yet to score a goal and at times seems like he is holding onto the puck too long in order to get that goal. Perron has soft hands and can handle the puck, but he needs to see that he doesn't have to be the man just yet in St. Louis.

 

Defense

The defense for the Blues took a huge hit before the season even started when Erik Johnson went down with a torn ACL at a local golf charity event. That followed with Jeff Woywitka going down with an injury and opening the door for 2008 first round draft pick Alex Pietrangelo.

Pietrangelo has so far impressed this year and he is playing for a spot season-long on this team. Pietrangelo has only recorded one point this season but it's been his play in the defensive zone that has truly shown his talent.

He has been a shut down defender and has shown an aptitude for making the smart pass out of the zone every time.

Captain Eric Brewer has been a different story though. Brewer is a minus-10 this season and at times seems lost on the ice. Bad passes, lack of focus, and poor shot selection have made many wonder if he is giving his all on every shift. The talent is there but the leadership and focus have been lacking out on the ice.

 

Goalies

The goaltender position has been hit hard by injuries this year. From Manny Legace getting hurt by slipping on a carpet, to Chris Mason's emergency appendectomy it has been a wild ride in just 13 games. But this has allowed a glimpse into the future of Ben Bishop, and it was a pleasant sight.

Manny Legace is 4-3-0 and has a 3.13 goals against average and has looked decent in those games. He has not looked as dominant as he was last year but he is coming off of knee surgery in the off-season. Legace appears to be gaining momentum and that should help stabilize this team going forward.

Chris Mason was supposed to come in and contend for the starting job this season but he is currently 0-4. Mason has not looked bad and has been a victim of poor goal support this year. Mason should push Legace to his best and that also will help this team throughout the season.

 

Power Play

Andy Murray started the season by deploying five forwards on the power play and in the beginning it worked impressively. The unit scored nine goals in 25 attempts but has scored only five in 32 attempts since.

With Lee Stempniak and now Paul Kariya going down with injuries the Blues have had to change up the units and now only use four forwards on the power play.

 

Penalty Kill

The Blues penalty kill sits at 81 percent so far this season, but it has been far from impressive. Some games it looks like there are six or seven guys out there killing the penalty and other times it looks like just the goalie.

While the goalie is the best penalty killer on the team, having so many changes to the position has not helped either.

One player who has looked great on the kill is TJ Oshie. In Toronto Oshie helped kill off a four minute five-on-four with a two minute five-on-three mixed in. Oshie was all over the ice and forced the Leafs into bad passes and bad shots.

Pairing Oshie and Jay McClement on the PK could help the kill percentage reach the top of the league.

 

Overview

Overall the Blues look like a team who has young talent. They struggle at times, yet show some signs of being really good really soon.

Keith Tkachuk looks rejuvenated and Paul Kariya looks faster than last year.

While the playoffs seem very far out of reach, do not be surprised if this team fights for a berth all the way to the end. This is just the start of what could be a very good team for years to come.

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