St. Louis Blues Preview: Five Burning Questions About The 2010-11 NHL Season

Sometimes, being a Western Conference team is tough.

Take the case of the 2009-10 St. Louis Blues, for example. If geography were a little more friendly and the Blues were in the East, they would've finished in seventh place and they would've made the postseason. Instead, as a Western club, they finished five points out of the playoffs.

Tough break. But things aren't all bad in St. Louis. Two years ago, the youth movement led the surprising Blues to the postseason. While they were likely playing over their heads, as evidenced by the fact that they did miss last year, the experience was invaluable.

Now, a bit more mature, the Blues are looking to make a triumphant return. With help from the boys at St. Louis Game Time, we examine Five Burning Questions surrounding the team.

1. I've read your articles about the Blues not addressing their scoring issues, about how Eric Brewer should not be captain and about how you've lost some confidence in the ownership group. Why do you hate the Blues?

SLGT: It's a little odd that there's so much turnover and upheaval with the organization and yet there's a popular opinion around St. Louis and in hockey media that the Blues will probably make the playoffs. The Blues could be on the cusp of becoming a contender for a long time. Yet the front office isn't being aggressive. It's frustrating to see the opportunity there and not see a full effort to go after it. Yet.

2. If David Backes doesn't jump back up to 25-30 goals, what does his role on the team become?
 
SLGT: The organization has already put him out front with the TV advertising campaign. He and Erik Johnson were silver medalists with the U.S. Olympic team. He can play a physical game along with scoring goals. If he's not the future captain, and the future better not be far off, by the way, then I really start to question this team.

3. With so many Blues on Twitter, what's the over/under on how long before someone steps out of line and says something he regrets?
 
SLGT: Well, earlier this summer there was the shirtless hug between Erik Johnson and Cuba Gooding Jr. It sure seems like Cam Janssen set up a fight using Twitter during this preseason. As more younger guys get on board, the more they'll be comfortable on the medium. At some point, someone's filter is going to be left at home and at least one guy is going to say something they regret, probably by the All-Star break this season.
 
4. Last year the players turned on coach Andy Murray and got him fired. What happens if they turn on Davis Payne?

 
SLGT: It's an interesting situation where they chose the easy way with Murray where as a group they decided to cash out. There are a number of players who are sold as character guys. Players that do the little things and are good dressing room guys. Some of the veterans who were in charge in that room are now out of the game. You may have heard of one, his name rhymed with Keith Tkachuk. I think at some point the players will realize that their future is tied with the future of Payne. Sinking him sinks them all.

5. Can the Blues be better than Detroit this year? Chicago? Nashville? Columbus?

SLGT: While the Blues weren't the most active team in the division, you could argue they tried to take the best step to improve with Jaroslav Halak, as long as he lives up to his potential. They didn't really dumpy anyone really worth worrying about. They're not old and on the down slope. They didn't have to deal with salary cap issues (that'll be the day). And they have a lot of potential that's hopefully set to mature. Of course I could be dead wrong. It's the Western Conference after all, a meat grinder during the regular season.

***

For more on the Blues, check out St. Louis Game Time and SB Nation St. Louis.

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