Bold predictions are a great part of previewing the hockey season, and it’s no different with the St. Louis Blues. After going through a slight retool, the Blues are looking to rebound from a mediocre 2020-21 season.
In my bold predictions piece from last season, I went zero for three, and none of my predictions were even close. It’s going to take some even more bold predictions this season to improve my numbers.
1. They Will Have Multiple 30 Goal Scorers
The Blues aren’t known as a team that will light the league on fire when it comes to scoring, but I say that changes this season. With the new additions, and possible rebound seasons from Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, they will almost certainly score more.
The Blues have an abundance of terrific passers and with changes to the system, and they could score more than we’ve seen in a long time.
It would help this prediction to see a big season from Jordan Kyrou, who clearly has the skill to score 30 goals in a season. It will help him to play in a consistent role this season as well, I projected he will play alongside Schenn and another winger, namely Klim Kostin.
While they lost a couple of goal scorers from last season with Mike Hoffman and Jaden Schwartz, they will likely replace those numbers with Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich.
The last time the Blues had more than one 30-goal scorer was all the way back in the 2008-09 season. Brad Boyes had 33 goals that season, while David Backes had 31. It appears as if this prediction is really bold, so we’ll see if it happens. The team will have balanced scoring, but I get the sense that two players with emerge with big seasons.
2. Binnington Finishes Top Three for Vezina Trophy
During the 2018-19 season, Binnington tallied a save percentage (SV%) of .927 in 32 regular-season games. He hasn’t even come close to those numbers since then. His SV% over the last two seasons has been .912 and .910, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.
While watching the Blues over the last two seasons, it’s clear that their defense has taken a step back since their 2019 Stanley Cup championship. However, it’s easy to forget that during the 2019-20 season, he won 30 games and finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting as the league’s best goaltender.
With this season coming up soon, he needs to improve his game from last season, and needs his defense to play better in front of him. I expect him to bounce back, and one of the biggest factors is the backup Ville Husso playing well enough to take pressure off of him.
In order to contend for the Vezina, Binnington will need to tally over 30 wins with a SV% over .920, which should put him in the conversation.
3. They’ll Win a Playoff Round
The Blues have been knocked out in ugly fashion in both of their first-round matchups in 2020 and 2021. You could argue that they outplayed the Vancouver Canucks overall in the 2020 first-round series, but they lost it in six games. During the 2021 playoffs, they got embarrassed in four games by the Colorado Avalanche.
The time for them to advance to the second round is now, or else there could be serious changes made in the organization.
With normal divisions returning in the NHL, the Blues can avoid having to play a potential juggernaut like the Vegas Golden Knights or Avalanche by finishing in the top three in the division. They can play a more even opponent like the Dallas Stars, which is a better matchup for the Blues.
The Blues were able to run through the playoffs in 2019 because of their ability to wear teams down, which was especially present in the conference final against the San Jose Sharks. The 2021-22 team appears more likely to have that ability to wear teams down over the previous two teams.
The reason I say that is due to the number of solid two-way forwards the Blues have with a healthy defensive unit. The additions of Saad and Buchnevich are huge for their two-way team game. Also, the return of Tyler Bozak will be great for the fourth line, as he is a quality defensive forward.
At the end of the day, this is the first pressure season for the Blues since they won the Cup. It’s been two seasons with two wins and eight losses in the playoffs, they have made upgrades to the forward group, and now it’s time to return to being a contender.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.