With Christmas approaching, there is not a very festive attitude surrounding the Blues. A five game losing streak has put a damper on what was a somewhat promising start to the season. The Blues started the season well, winning four of their first five games. After a bit of a slump that took them three games under .500, they rebounded with a hot streak that took them back over the .500 mark a couple of weeks ago. Throughout the season, the Blues have competed hard, played well on special teams, and been in most of their games, win or lose. During the current 5 game slide, they really haven't been close.
In the pre-season, I wrote on this site that while the Blues were borderline, I believed they could stay in the playoff race and contend for one of the final spots in the West. A couple of days after I wrote that, Erik Johnson went down for the season with a knee injury, and little has gone right since then. While there is still a long way to go in the season, that pre-season hope has been doused in a sea of injuries. The Blues are currently playing without Johnson, Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald, Manny Legace, TJ Oshie, Eric Brewer and Jay McKee. That's 3 of their top 4 defensemen, 3 of their top 6 forwards and their Number one goaltender. While I never like to use injuries as an excuse, few teams could overcome that many key losses and continue to win. The Blues continue to play hard, but I think the slew of injuries is starting to catch up to them. They are playing as many as 8-9 first or second year players some nights, which unfortunately is not a recipe for success in the NHL.
The silver lining is that many of the young players are getting more exposure and ice time. Patrik Berglund in particular looks like he will blossom into a star in this league. I'm still excited about the Blues future, with a core of Johnson, Berglund, Oshie, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, Ben Bishop and David Backes leading us into future seasons. For the current year though, things may get worse before they get better.