Just two seasons removed from their own Stanley Cup win, the St. Louis Blues were the first team eliminated from the 2020-21 NHL playoffs with a 4-0 series sweep at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.
While it wasn’t a pretty series for the Blues, the season wasn’t all bad for the West Division’s fourth seed. With that, here’s a look back on the team that was, and the team that will not – win the Stanley Cup, of course.
Blues’ Adding in the Offseason
Things started off on the wrong foot for the Blues this offseason, who saw a veteran leader in Alex Steen retire in mid-December. That was followed by Jay Bouwmeester also retiring. That, however, along with the designation of Vladimir Tarasenko to the injury reserve opened up space of the Blues to make some moves. And that exactly what they did.
Mike Hoffman joined the team – first on an invite to training camp – signing a one-year deal with the club. It was a move that surprised some as Hoffman was seen as one of the best goal-scoring free agents of the class. Still, the Blues were able to add him and were looking to make noise in the newly designed West Division.
In all, the Blues had 32 positional players suit up for them this season – with the taxi squad available to them – and two goalies in Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso.
Blues’ Secure Postseason Spot
Their regular season was demanding. Along with COVID, the Blues were required to take on the game’s top teams in the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights who finished first and second in the division. Still, the Blues finished the year with 63 points and a 27-20-9 record in 56 games to secure the fourth seed and a first-round matchup with the Avalanche.
David Perron led the Blues with 58 points in 56 games during the regular season, while the newly acquired Hoffman finished third in team scoring with 36 in 52 games.
Ryan O’Reilly not only led the team with the ‘C’ on his jersey, but also led with 24 goals in 56 games and had some choice words for the Avalanche heading into the postseason – saying, “We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to beat them.”
Unfortunately, that quote didn’t age well for the captain of the Blues. Still, the regular season was in impressive. Binnington went 18-14-8 with a .910 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.65 goals against average (GAA), while Husso put up a 9-6-1 record with an .893 SV% and 3.20 GAA.
But the playoffs were a different story.
Postseason Had St. Louis Singing the Blues
Like he did earlier in the regular season, Binnington had a meltdown in Game 1 that was laughable for outside fans. People questioned the need for it and wondered how it was going to affect his team moving forward.
Well, simply put, it didn’t turn things around for his club. Binnington went on to finish the four-game set with the Avalanche with a 3.59 GAA and an .899 SV% which didn’t lead to much confidence up front.
Robert Thomas and O’Reilly led the way with three points in the four games, while Krug finished with two points of his own – doing what was asked of him coming into St. Louis.
The fact is, the Blues were up against a much stronger team. The Avalanche have been building towards this kind of run for some time and the Blues simply weren’t going to stand in their way.
In the process, the Blues did lose Justin Faulk who was run over by Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri. He was subsequently suspended for eight games, but it didn’t change the fact that Faulk was out of the lineup for the Blues.
if there’s anything the Blues can take away from this season it’s that Jordan Kyrou had a breakout year and that Hoffman may stay with them if a new deal can be agreed upon. Still with the amount of injuries they had to deal with this season, it’d be better for the Blues to write this season off as a wash and start from scratch next year.
Laid to Rest – Final Thoughts
The Hoffman signing made sense for the Blues this year. Tarasenko and Steen were out. Pietrangelo was gone and they needed some more firepower up front. Did he live up to the hype? I think a 0.69 point-per-game average is still pretty impressive.
That said, the Blues were missing something on the back end. They gave up 20 goals in four games and something tells me that having Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester there would’ve stopped the floodgates from opening. Krug and Faulk are good, but they are interchangeable and play a similar game. It wasn’t what the Blues needed.
The fact is, the window is still open for the Blues. This is a team with some young pieces and an interesting future in net with the likes of Husso waiting. They could be competitive again next season, but 2020-21 simply wasn’t their year. Rest in passion, fans, and good luck in 2021-22.
For now, the Avalanche continue on.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.