Is it Time for the Blues to Move on From This Season?

Photo By James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Photo By James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

It was not that long ago that the St Louis Blues were on top of the hockey world.

The Blues, after getting off to a horrendous start, won the Stanley Cup in 2019. They did it with hard work, skill, great coaching, and with great goaltending from Jordan Binnington.

Four seasons later, things are much different in St. Louis. As of this writing (Thursday, January 26), the Blues are sixth in the Central Division and are six points out of the second wild card spot in a very tight Western Conference with a 23-22-3 record and 49 points.

For starters, this team is not scoring a lot of goals. They are 19th in the league, as they have scored 149 goals in 48 games (3.10 goals per game).

Part of the reason why they are not scoring goals is because of injuries to both Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. When these players are in the lineup, they score goals and produce, so without them, the team struggles to create offense on a consistent basis.

Tarasenko returned to action on Tuesday, January 24, but O’Reilly is not due to come back until sometime in mid-February. For a team that thinks they can still make the playoffs, that is not great news.

The Blues have also struggled to keep the puck out of the net this season. They are 25th in the league in goals allowed, as they have given up 171 goals (3.56 goals against per game).

Binnington, 29, is having the worst season of his career. He is 18-16-0-3 with a 3.28 goals-against average, a .891 save percentage, and two shutouts.

As we head into February, none of the areas mentioned above have shown any signs of improvement. With that in mind, one has to wonder if the team will shift its focus to next season.

The great Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey and The Hockey News wrote about how both O’Reilly and Tarasenko could end up being shopped by the Blues, as they are both due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Richardson mentioned a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger that said that the Blues are definitely shopping O’Reilly.

“Despite the 31-year-old center’s current status, the Blues are gauging his value in the trade market. Dreger speculated their asking price could be draft picks and a prospect.”

In regards to Tarasenko, Richardson explained how Tarasenko has a full no-trade clause. With that said, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford made a case for him to be traded at the deadline.

Richardson summed up what Rutherford said about Tarasenko here:

Before Tarasenko’s return, Rutherford felt the 31-year-old winger would be showcased to prove he’s healthy and still productive. He wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might be interested as a replacement for sidelined winger Max Pacioretty. Their cap hits are nearly identical, with Pacioretty at $7 million and Tarasenko at $7.5 million.

If the Blues were to move on from both O’Reilly and Tarasenko, that would certainly be a sign of them throwing in the towel on this season. This is something that they have not done for many years, as they have been one of the league’s most consistent clubs for a long period of time.

With that said, in looking at both the Central Division and the Western Conference as a whole, it is easy to see that the Blues are nowhere near as good as their competition. The Colorado Avalanche (55 points), Edmonton Oilers (58 points), Calgary Flames (55 points), Minnesota Wild (54 points), and Nashville Predators (52 points) are all better than the Blues in areas where it matters most this season.

They may not want to do it, but it is time for the Blues to start thinking about next season. Yes, they will obviously play hard for the rest of the year, but missing the playoffs might be just what the doctor ordered for this team to get back on the right track for next season.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
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Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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