The Blues exorcised their first-round demons and pushed through an exhilarating playoff run that saw them pull within six wins of a Stanley Cup. They defeated two formidable opponents in Chicago and Dallas, but ran out of steam against the speedy San Jose Sharks. St. Louis managed to escape the first round, but after the Blackhawks and Stars extended their series to seven games, questions still remain about the Blues' killer instinct and finishing ability. Key offseason departures of David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and Brian Elliott will force the team to forge a new identity around its youthful core.

THREE QUESTIONS

  1. Can Jake Allen become an elite starting goaltender?
  2. Is this roster physical enough to compete in the Central Division?
  3. Will Colton Parayko and Robby Fabbri slump or succeed in their sophomore seasons?

BEST CASE SCENARIO

The Blues are being forced to play a different style of game. They’ve lost their net front presence in Backes and Brouwer. They don’t have two starting caliber goaltenders. Ken Hitchcock is in his final year with his replacement watching over his shoulder. In the best case scenario, it all doesn’t matter and the Blues go deep in the playoffs like they did last season. The younger guys will have another season under their belt and Vladimir Tarasenko knows the sacrifice that’s needed in the second season. It can all come together and they could be part of the final four, or even better. But the bottom line is players need to adjust, coaches need to adjust and the regular season has to pull this team together.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

It’s very simple. The Blues could get pushed around and struggle to score without size up front, Allen could get hurt in net, and it all falls apart. Granted, that’s the absolute worst case scenario. It’s possible. What fans are afraid of is too many steps back after going back to the conference final for the first time in 15 years. Fans want progress. They want to see the Blues build upon what they've done. They want a parade in June. If things don’t gel after some major changes, fans will be left wanting.