When Ken Hitchcock took over as head coach of the St. Louis Blues two years ago, everything instantly changed for St. Louis. The team went from being a Western Conference cellar dweller to being one of the top three teams in the conference in one season. But St. Louis has been unable to translate its regular season success into playoff rewards. Over the past two playoff runs, the Blues have not made it to the Stanley Cup finals and that is starting to irritate the players and the fans. This season, the Blues are one of the favorites to win the Cup, but they will need to make some pretty drastic changes to their approach if they want to win the big prize.
2014 Stanley Cup Odds: 12/1
Key #1: Score goals.
It doesn’t matter where the goals come from, but the St. Louis Blues need to score more goals. The team has been stocking up on defensemen who can put the puck in the net, and that is going to help. But the offensive forwards in St. Louis need to start putting the puck in the net. St. Louis needs to start getting away from one-goal games and start finishing teams off in the third period. There is a lot that the Blues can do to score more goals, but the bottom line is that the Blues need to put the biscuit in the basket a lot more often if they want to win games.
Key #2: Jaroslav Halak must stay healthy.
Goaltender Brian Elliott has been repeatedly called on to finish playoff series after starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been injured. Halak only played two playoff games for the Blues in 2011-12 and he was injured prior to last season’s playoffs and missed the whole thing. During the regular season, Elliott and Halak provide a potent 1-2 punch that is able to keep Halak rested for the playoffs. But Halak has been unable to answer the bell because of injuries. If the Blues are going to be a successful playoff team in 2013-14, then Jaroslav Halak needs to stay healthy and he needs to be the goalie that the team can rely on in the playoffs.
Key #3: The Blues need to be just a little better on the road.
When a team posts a road record of 14-9-1 for the shortened 2012-13 season, it can be difficult to find a fault with the team’s approach. But the Blues are a little too inconsistent on the road and many of those wins were one-goal games. The Blues are extremely comfortable at home, but they will need to be just a little more dominating on the road if they want to live up to the expectation of being a real Stanley Cup contender.
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