NHL Preview: St. Louis Blues

NHL Preview: BluesKeith Tkachuk is healthy and leaner for St. Louis. Other than that, the Blues don't have much going for them.

2005 record: 21-46-15 (57 points)
2005 offense rank: 30th (2.35 goals per game)
2005 defense rank: 28th (3.46 goals allowed per game)

Key Additions: RW Bill Guerin, RW Dan Hinote, C Doug Weight

Key Losses: RW Scott Young, LW Mark Rycroft, RW Jeff Hoggan

Overview: In the NHL there are good teams, there are bad teams, and then there are the St. Louis Blues. The Blues finished last season with an NHL-worst 57 points, which was 67 points behind division-winning Detroit. The Blues' offense ranked dead last in the league averaging only 2.35 goals per game, while the defense was 28th in the league allowing 3.46 goals per game. In an effort to increase their offensive output, St. Louis brought back C Weight from the Hurricanes and signed former 40-goal scorer Guerin. LW Keith Tkachuk only played 41 games last season and needs to stay healthy for the Blues offense to be successful. The Blues defensemen were better than their 28th ranking indicates. D Eric Brewer a solid defender who has experience playing for Team Canada, while D Jay McKee was signed in the offseason to add more depth to the defensive corps. RW Hinote was signed away from Colorado and will add some additional toughness and experience to the blue line. St. Louis’ goalie experiment with Patrick Lalime was an absolute disaster, and the Blues jettisoned Lalime in the offseason. Curtis Sanford now takes over the No. 1 goalie spot and needs to stay healthy for an entire season. Young Jason Bacashuhua will be Sanford’s backup, and many in the Blues organization feel Bacashuhua is the Blues' goalie of the future.

Players to Watch: Guerin only scored 13 goals last season, and the Blues are hoping he quickly returns to his 40-goal scoring form. Sanford played well last season until he was injured and he needs to firmly establish himself as the team's No. 1 goalie. Petr Cajanek only scored 41 points last season and needs to produce more as the second-line center.
Outlook: The Blues offense was atrocious in 2005, and will only be slightly better this season. The defense will be better now that Lalime is out of the net, but it still won’t be that good. The Blues could be a couple of years away from escaping the Central Division cellar, and many sportsbooks have the Blues projected as the worst team in the NHL this season.