Season Nearing 50% Completion
On Monday, January 10th, the Blues take on the Phoenix Coyotes. What's so significant about this game, you ask? Well, it is game #41 which signals the midway point in the 2010-11 season for the club. This point in the season is usually where we can make a fair assumption of where this team is headed - for better or worse. With two games to play before the 2010-11 season is officially in the books for the Blues, what have we learned from this team? Injuries can be Overcome It isn't easy and may be quite trying, but the Blues have proven that injuries can be overcome. Roman Polak, TJ Oshie, David Perron and Andy McDonald all went through (or are going through) large chunks of missed time thanks to injuries. There is an even longer list of guys that have missed a handful of games due to minor ailments as well. Needless to say, injuries have been the major talking point through the first half of the season. Despite these major setback to several core members of this team, the Blues still find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt. As a matter a fact, they are on pace to surpass their point total from 2009-10 (90) and are primed to finish somewhere in the 95+ point range, assuming their current pace doesn't slow. One would think once Oshie and possibly Perron and McDonald return, that pace would only accelerate...but we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. The point is, despite their core skaters all falling with injuries, this team has been resilient and has still managed to collect points - a feat they deserve plenty of credit for. Alex Steen is a Legitimate Threat Last season, in his first full year with the Blues, Alex Steen lit the lamp 24 times (a career-high) and took on the form of a sniper as the Blues gradually faded down the stretch. Coming into this season, fans and experts alike wondered if Steen would be able to build upon his impressive form and be a consistent source of offense for the Blues in the current season. The question has been answered - Steen is a legitimate scoring threat. His 14 goals lead the team in scoring and he is doing a fantastic job of helping Blues fans look past the fact that Brad Boyes is still struggling to recapture his scoring touch. David Backes is the Catalyst Does anyone really have any doubt that David Backes will be the Blues next captain? If there was any doubt, Backes' play so far should be silencing any critics left out there. Through 39 games, Backes has notched 32 points - 11 goals and 21 assists. He is well on his way to besting his career-high in assists (31) and could give his career-high in points (54) a run for its money. Not surprisingly, he is also leading the team in hits with 108. No shocker here as it is usually his physical play that energizes the Blues and often leads to scoring opportunities. Alex Pietrangelo Fits Perfectly Remind yourself: Coming into this season, Pietrangelo had only skated in 17 professional games. It sure doesn't look like it, does it. Halak is Relaxed in Net Jaroslav Halak uses a very relaxed, calm approach to protecting the crease. Rarely will you see him scramble and rarely will you see him struggle to make a save. Everything is in fluid, precise motion. As a result, he makes numerous hard saves look very easy and ordinary. On the same token, some of the goals he allows might look a bit softer than they actually are, as a result of his unique approach. More times than not, his calm approach works ... but the times it doesn't, don't be too quick to label it a softie.