Power Rankings: Week 17
This week’s edition is the “Here Come the Blues” Edition. Holy crap.
Despite, or perhaps because of my prediction that they would win their division, the Blues plodded out of the gate going 6-7-0. They were dead last in their conference on both sides of special teams at the time. Now? They’re 7th in the West on the powerplay and 4th on the penalty kill and are 44-18-7 having gone 38-11-7 under coach Ken Hitchcock (a 122 point pace).
How did they do it? By being solid, but unspectacular top to bottom and committing to both ends of the rink. The Blues have 11 players that are a +10 or better, 22 players that are even or better, and only 5 players that are a minus. Their two stars, David Backes and T.J. Oshie are leading the team with 48 points apiece (21-27 for Backes and 18-30 for Oshie) with pretty much everyone else falling into that 30-50 point per season range. Their forward corps of Backes, Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, Jason Arnott, Chris Stewart, Alexander Steen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Vladimir Sobotka, Matt D’Agnosti and company are littered with gritty players that work hard to get the ugly goals because the skill to score the pretty ones just isn’t there.
It’s a style of play that translates well to the playoffs as the Boston Bruins showed us last season. I feel like I’m forgetting something…oh right! Their goalies have been ridiculous. And while some of that can be chalked up to their style of play Jaroslav Halak’s 1.86 GAA, .926 save percentage, 6 shutouts and Brian Elliott’s 1.61 GAA, .938 save percentage, and 6 shutouts cannot be denied. Woe is (are) the poor bastard(s) that see(s) them in the playoffs.