Through the first ten games of the season the St. Louis Blues have posted an incredible 7-1-2 record which is good for first place in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference behind only the Los Angeles Kings. Led by Jaroslav Halak, the Blues are turning heads and giving their fans a reason to believe.
From the 1979-80 season up until the first season after the lockout, the Blues had made the playoffs every year. In fact, since the expansion that brought a team to St. Louis in 1967 the Blues have made the playoffs all but seven seasons, four of those seasons in the post lockout era, although they made a push last year but came up a little short. Now that they have a solid core of young, talented players, a coach who seems to have a plan that the players are all buying into, and a true all-star between the pipes, the Blues are back and better than ever.
The Blues are ranked 17th in the league in Goals For/Game with 2.70 but are second in the league in Shots/Game with 34.0 behind only the San Jose Sharks. They rank first in Shots Against/Game with 25.7, narrowly edging out the Flyers and are second to only Boston Goals Against/Game with 1.6.
[caption id="attachment_152" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Oshie looks to continue his point/game production"][/caption]
The Blues offense, led by T.J. Oshie (1-9-10) Matt D'Agostini (5-2-7) and David Perron (5-2-7), has no one with more than 5 goals and 10 points but has a remarkable sixteen players with at least 1 point. The Blues are also good enough to protect a small lead, as demonstrated against the San Jose Sharks last night. The Blues had a 2-0 lead in the third period and were able to control the puck and waste time down in the Sharks zone, limiting their ability to climb back into the game. It is the depth of the Blues both on offense and on the blue line that makes this team so scary.
The defense has also been playing incredible starting with Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo, who could just be the players they've been looking for since Chris Pronger and Al McInnis played together from 95-96 to 03-04. Pietrangelo has 6 pts (all assists) in the first ten games and is a plus-7, while Johnson has 1 goal 2 assists and a plus-1 rating. These two see an ever-increasing amount of work being thrown their way because of their ability to step up and perform in clutch situations so far this season. They are the driving force behind the incredible defensive statistics the Blues are putting up so far.
Jaroslav Halak is nothing to overlook either. Although the Blues are one of the best defensive teams in the league, it's also good to have one of the best goalies as well. Halak has three shutouts already this season, which is good enough to surpass Jacques Plante for the fastest three shutouts by a Blues goaltender in the team's history. He has allowed just 14 goals in 9 games and is in the top 10 for every important goaltender statistic. He is 3rd in the league with 7 wins, has a .940 sv% which is good for 6th, a 4th best 1.53 GAA and tied with Tim Thomas for league lead in shutouts with 3. He is already been in Vezina talks for this season and he can keep it up I don't see any goalie out there that can compete with him.
Although there may still be 72 games left there's no reason to believe that the Blues won't be playing through April. They will be a team to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the season and if they can keep it up a long playoff run is not out of the question. After all, Halak got his Canadiens to an Eastern Conference Final last year and the Blues seem to have a much better team in front of him this year.