Blackhawks News

Central Division In Review: Part 2 of 4, St. Louis’ New Look

By Unknown author

The Blues have been making a splash in the free agent market this off-season. They are looking to position themselves as the dark horse in the race for the Central Division.

Last year the Blues went 2-4 against the Hawks. They finished 38-33-11 last year and missed the playoffs by five games. This season, the Blues won’t be the punching bag of the division like they had been in previous years.

This off-season, St. Louis was one of the big names in the free agent market. Notable pick-ups are Jason Arnott, Jonathan Cheechoo and Jamie Langenbrunner. The veteran presence of these acquisitions will help this young team to grow this season. But the combined,the three players have 40 NHL seasons under their belts. Their age may prove to slow the Blues down during the stretch.

St. Louis has worked hard to keep last year’s roster intact for this season. The Blues have re-signed Ryan Reaves and T.J. Oshie to one-year contracts, Matt D’Agostini to a two-year contract and Roman Polak to a five-year deal. D’Agostini was one of the Blues’ leading scorers last season.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak will be their starter this year. He had a decent year last year, going 27-21-7 with a save percentage of .910. He is one of the better goalies in the division this year. Halak’s probable back up, Brian Elliot, will be a goaltender the Hawks will look to light up. He went 15-27-9 in his 55 appearances last year as he spilt time between the Senators and the Avalanche.

With the Blues’ youth and talent, they will be a contender this year for the division. They also have great depth with their AHL team, the Peoria Rivermen. They made the AHL playoffs last year and finished third in their conference; the same conference as the Rockford IceHogs.

This season, the Hawks’ match-ups with St. Louis will prove to be much more difficult than it has been in previous years. Look for them to make the divisional race much more interesting than it has been in the past.

Marty Hobe