Sometimes, a trip down memory lane is all a team needs to improve their play.
Last season, the Blues posted 109 points to finish third in the league. Unbelievable goaltending and a steady defense led the way for the Blues, who had only made the playoffs once since the lockout going into the 2012 post-season.
Some other keys to the Blues’ success can be directly pointed to a big off-season in 2011, as Blues GM Doug Armstrong locked up some much-needed veterans, including fourth line center Scott Nichol and former NHL All-Stars Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott.
Nichol and Langenbrunner were re-upped by the team last summer, but Arnott was left out of the picture after a supposed argument with Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. The Jack Adams Trophy winner for Coach of the Year decided to sit Arnott for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, stating that Arnott’s play was lacking due to nagging knee and shoulder injuries. Arnott did not practice with the team after being a healthy scratch.
Over the summer, Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com reported that Arnott reflected on his departure from the Blues and decided that Hitchcock was looking out for the team’s best interests.
Arnott was left unsigned over the summer but received a chance to sign with the New York Rangers five games into the season. The Rangers announced that they had reached a deal, but it was later called off due to Arnott not being able to pass a physical given by team doctors.
Jason & the Arnotts: Together Again?
Arnott continued to work on his game after failing the physical with the Rangers, and it seems that a banged-up St. Louis club may be willing to give him a second chance.
Since February 22, the Blues have lost forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen to long-term injuries. The Blues have already been without veteran Jamie Langenbrunner for most of the season.
Arnott, who scored 17 goals and 17 assists last season for the Blues, was seen skating at American Airlines Center in Dallas Sunday morning, just a few hours before the Blues battled the Dallas Stars.
“[Arnott is] going to join us this week on the road trip, make sure his body is with his mind and that he is ready to play,” Armstrong said on Sunday. “He did have some offseason surgery. We have information from the doctors that he is ready to go.”
Why not? Arnott has proven time and again that he is a warrior and can battle through a plethora of scrutiny. As the captain of the Nashville Predators in April 2009, Arnott returned from an injury that kept him out of 11 games. With just four games remaining in the season, the 6’5” 220 lb. center pounded in six goals and eight points to lead the Predators in an exhilarating race to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Arnott’s efforts were not enough as the Predators missed the playoffs by three points.
Arnott’s late-season success also has translated to the playoffs. He is widely known for scoring the game-winning goal in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the New Jersey Devils. Also, his 16 career playoff power-play goals tie him for 49th all-time.
Numbers like these could help boost a struggling Blues offense, which has scored just seven goals in the past five games.
Although Arnott had a rough end to his short tenure with the Blues, he was a top-producer in the faceoff circle. He ranked third on the team in faceoff percentage amongst players who took at least 450 faceoffs (50.3%). This could prove to be a valuable addition for a team that currently ranks 21st in the league in faceoff percentage (49.4%).
Arnott knows the Blues’ system. He has played with almost every player on the roster within the past year.
In a tight Western Conference, the Blues are clinging on to the fifth spot (24 points, 1 point ahead of the tenth place Predators). Arnott may not be the All-Star that he once was, but he may be able to add some depth to a very slim center position.