I think they'll finish 3rd, but be closer to #1 Detroit and #2 Chicago than #4 Columbus will be to them.
I think The Blues will start off fairly slowly, due to the "new" defence needing to play together for a while and for Bell and Pietrangelo to learn the system. Also, The Blues new forward lines will take a while to click together. I think that if they are not hit by a lot of injuries, The Blues will be "hot" and playing a lot better during the 2nd half of the season. But, by losing opportunities for points early, they won't be able to reach 100 points (which Detroit and Chicago will). The Blues should be in the high 90s. But, they'll be capable of beating Chicago in a playoff series.
Based on how things play out, I could see the Blues finishing anywhere from 1st to 4th in the division but I went with a guess of them finishing 3rd. I feel the Blues are closing the gap on the Wings and Hawks but I'd still have to put them behind those two for the time being.
Columbus is a team to watch out for IMO. They're slowly coming along. If Mason can show he wasn't just some rookie fluke, they've got something there...and they've got a nice little youth infusion of their own going on with guys like Voracek, Brassard and Filatov.
Nashville doesn't look overly impressive on paper but they always seem to be competative. I see them finishing 5th though but with still quite a bit better record than a few other Western teams.
Just like last season, I think it's very possible 4 teams from the Central make the playoffs...possibly all 5 but that's not very likely.
I think the better way to measure it may end up being, how many points behind the 1st place team will the Blues be. I think the spread from 1st to 3rd will narrow significantly, although the actual order might not.
Second. One of Detroit or Chicago will be better. I'm not sure which yet though. But I think one of those top two is going to flop. It could be Detroit because of the absence of Hossa, their goaltending and the loss of small, but significant players. It could be Chicago again because of their goaltending, the loss of Hossa until December or later, and the fall out from the crap that has gone on this off season.
BUt either way, I think one of the two will over come their adversities and one of them will fall to the bottom of the playoff chase.
I'm gonna say 3rd just to be conservative but if your young guys come together and build off last season and you avoid another major injury bug, I can easily see the Blues having a break out season and finishing 2nd. I'm jealous, you have an amazing, young and talented team to watch. Chicago is proven, but I think the Blues are almost a mirror image of them. Great crop of young forwards and D-men mixed with some solid vets (though you guys might hold the edge in the vet department for this season) and a good goalie. You'll be my team out of the West this year and probably the future, love Backes and Oshie.. both play hockey how I love to see it played.
I wanted to pick 2nd but just couldn't. This group has made some great strides, no doubt. I just can't shake the feeling that they are in for more than their share of adversity...again. (Eww, pessimism feels so dirty.)
Detroit and Chicago are locks for #1 and #2, which order they will be in is up in the air. I think St. Louis will finish 3rd, but 4th behind Columbus is possible. Nashville will finish 5th.
No one is EVER a lock.
People expected Carolina to be dominant after their cup win.
Then they missed the playoffs.
Injuries could destroy to Hawks or Osgood and Beachball Cloutier could knock Detroit off the map.
I picked 3rd (ahead of Nashville and Columbus). I was one place off. But, this season went a lot differently (in a lot of different areas) than I had guessed it would.
Let's hope the lower-than expected (hoped) finish will spur management to help improve the team for the long-term, while allowing the team to compete for a playoff spot while the kids continue to progress.
no, I'm stuck at freaking work. They played last night, I don't see the point to tossing in the towel but I understand the sentiment.
Yeah...no towel throwing yet for me, but it is looking bleak.
I did not vote on this poll earlier in the year, but just now.
StealthJD is kind of a cynic (sorry buddy), but I agreed with you then that The Blues take a step back.
After the playoffs ended last summer I made a warning on these boards that The Blues could very well take a step back and miss the playoffs. I stood by my prediction early in the season and it looks like that may happen.
However, I still want the team to play hard and win as many games as possible. I will NEVER root for a tanking.