3 Reasons Why the Blues Won’t Win the 2023 Stanley Cup

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, the St. Louis Blues have only gotten out of the first round once. They lost in the first round in 2020 and 2021 while reaching the second round in 2022. The goal of every team is to win the Cup, but it only proves to be more challenging every year. The Blues have had a lot of good teams over the past 54 seasons, but the one to win it all was unlikely.

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The 2022-23 Blues will be fun to watch with plenty of high-level players on the roster. They have a similar roster to 2021-22, where they tallied 109 points and gave the Cup champion Colorado Avalanche a run in the second round. However, the Blues have flaws this season and it may be too much to overcome to win the Cup. I’m not ruling out the idea that they could win another one, but I’ll give three reasons as to why it isn’t likely to happen in 2022-23.

Lack of Trust in the Defensive Unit

The Blues had a defensive unit that they relied on during their 2019 run. That has since changed with the departure of Alex Pietrangelo and the retirement of Jay Bouwmeester. They’ve added Justin Faulk and Torey Krug, who have been tremendous, but they don’t have enough quality defenders behind them. Even after getting a steady partner like Nick Leddy for Colton Parayko, trust still lacks with this unit.

Colton Parayko St. Louis Blues
Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blues have enough depth to survive on the blue line. With players like Scott Perunovich, Niko Mikkola, Robert Bortuzzo, and others, they’ve got some wild cards to play third-pairing minutes. They don’t have the power in their top-four that other top-tier contenders in the NHL do. They simply can’t match teams like the Avalanche with Cale Makar and Devon Toews.

The Blues’ defensive unit won’t hold them back to the point of not contending, but it certainly decreases their likelihood of winning a Cup. If Parayko finds consistency with Leddy, that could change things, but I still don’t think they have enough. They have options to shake things up when needed, but that won’t make them any more of a contender. I believe that Faulk and Krug will make them a middle-of-the-league unit, but they won’t rise much further than that.

Relying Too Heavily on Jordan Binnington

The Blues had the security blanket of Ville Husso last season. With him departing for the Detroit Red Wings, they no longer have that option. They added veteran goaltender Thomas Greiss to the roster, but that won’t make up for it. The biggest question for the Blues will be whether Jordan Binnington can return to his form during the 2022 Playoffs. If he can do that, the Blues are set up well for contention.

During the 2021-22 regular season, Binnington won 18 of 37 starts with a save percentage (SV%) of .901. This is not good enough for a goaltender making $6 million per season, and both sides know that. He had a poor goals-against average (GAA) of 3.13, ranking 49th among goaltenders that played double-digit games.

Binnington’s goaltending stats over the past three seasons. Source: Hockey Reference

With all of this said, he was dominant in the 2022 Playoffs before his injury. In six starts, he had a 4-1-0 record with a SV% of .949. He helped them finish the Minnesota Wild in the first round and compete with the Avalanche early into the second round. The Blues are relying on Binnington a lot; the only way that works is if he comes back from injury the way he went into it, which was elite-level goaltending.

Juggernaut Avalanche Standing in Their Way

The 2022 champion Avalanche are bringing back the majority of their roster. Despite losing Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper, they remain the favorite to repeat in 2022-23. While their goaltending is questionable with Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz, their offensive and defensive prowess is next level. The Blues held their own with the Avalanche last season during the playoffs, but it still wasn’t enough to even force a Game 7.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Along with an elite top line, the Avalanche have a great group of two-way forwards that play strong roles. Not to mention they also have Cale Makar, who has become the game’s best defenseman. Even with some question marks in certain areas, the Avalanche are a juggernaut that could easily win the Presidents’ Trophy. The Blues will also have to deal with other quality teams in the Central Division. I would say the other threats to them in the division are the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and Wild.

With all of this said, the Blues are easily the second-best team in the division heading into the season. I am comfortable saying this due to the experience and offensive firepower that they have. They will be a major contender in 2022-23 as I believe they will once again surpass the 100-point mark.

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