The St. Louis Blues have finished in the top-four of the Western Conference in each of the last three seasons but have failed to win a game in the second round of the playoff each time.
Stingy defense and stellar goaltending is what has propelled them to the top of the standings but this offseason, they decided to change directions. Instead of re-signing goaltender Ryan Miller, they opted to put that money towards scoring in the form of Paul Stastny instead.
Will They Miss Miller?
The Blues have had strong goaltending for a few seasons now from Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, but the general thinking was that those guys weren’t good enough to get them over the hump. Ellliott is just 6-10 in the playoffs with a 2.55 GAA and a miserable .898 save percentage. As for Halak, he didn’t cut the mustard in his lone postseason stint with the Blues in 2012, which is why the conversation of goaltending upgrades came up.
The Blues acquired Miller at the trade deadline with the hope that he’d be an upgrade and be the final missing piece of the puzzle, but that never transpired. He started 19 games for the Blues and finished with a mediocre 2.47 GAA and a subpar .903 save percentage. In the playoffs, Miller was even worse, giving up at least three goals in five of the six first round games against the Chicago Blackhawks. He finished with a 2.70 GAA and .897 save percentage in the playoffs.
It’s pretty clear why the Blues decided to move on. Guys like Halak, Elliott and hopefully Jake Allen can give the Blues a better playoff save percentage than .897. Elliott and Allen will cost the Blues $3.3 million this season combined and should do better. Miller will cost the Vancouver Canucks $6 million over the next three seasons.
Can Stastny Help The Offense?
While the Blues were third in goals allowed last season, they were seventh in goals scored. While that doesn’t seem like a huge disparity, their weakness was further exposed in the playoffs. The Blues averaged just 2.33 goals per game in the 2013-14 postseason, which was third-worst of the 16 contestants. The Blues scored just 1.67 goals per game in the playoffs the season before and 2.22 in the 2011-12 playoffs. Clearly, scoring is the issue.
After watching Stastny tear it up in the first round of the 2013-14 playoffs, notching 10 points in just seven games, the Blues realized he’d be a better investment than Miller.
How To Bet The News
The Blues have transitioned from an under team to an over team in the last few seasons, and have become more attractive as hockey betting picks. Their blue line has been stellar and has protected their goalkeepers. Take a look at their over-under record over the last three seasons:
This year, expect them to get into even more overs. Stastny is going to give this offense a big boost, which means they should be top-five in goals scored next season, which you should keep in mind when looking at NHL Odds. As for their goaltending, their regular season number should stay on par even with the departure of Miller.
If you’re betting this team in the playoffs, they should be able to light the lamp more come playoff time compared to their previously brutal postseason numbers, but they likely need another top-six forward to really emerge as a Stanley Cup threat. They’re not far off and the 12/1 Stanley Cup futures indicate that but they are still an offensive piece away from being considered one of the frontrunners.