Blues believe they're ready for deep run

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 24, 2013
Signing cornerstone defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year contract extension was just a matter of time for the St. Louis Blues. Two days into training camp, it was a done deal and there was happy talk he will be here for life. The Blues believe the ice-hogging, offensive-minded Pietrangelo is the guy who can lead a team built to go deep into the playoffs. And it's a team that knows exactly what management wants after winning two, then losing four in a row to the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs last year. ''For those key guys that have been here a while, we've got to take a little bit of a leadership role and make sure that every line's going,'' forward T.J. Oshie said. ''There's nothing worse than sitting at home or sitting wherever you're at watching the team you had a chance to beat go on and play after you.'' The biggest move of the offseason actually left the Blues just as flush in players once judged as top-end talent. Plus, Oshie, David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko got the message when flashy playmaker David Perron, a first-rounder in 2007, was dealt to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi (first round `09) and a second-round pick in 2014. ''I believe the core group coming back wants to win,'' general manager Doug Armstrong said. ''I was disappointed that we didn't fulfill something that was in our grasp. When I say it's a big year, it's a year where we should believe and be comfortable believing we can walk into any building and walk away with two points.'' Here are five things to watch once the Blues open the season Oct. 3 at home against Nashville: PRESSURE POINTS: During the preseason, Hitchcock put more pressure on Berglund and Chris Stewart, the forward obtained for former No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson. ''I don't want to say we're going to demand more of those guys, but I think we're going to expect more from those guys,'' Hitchcock said. ''For us to get to the next level, we need those guys to join what's already here.'' STAR POWER: The Blues are short on marquee names. Unlike last season, Armstrong said it's a team that has everything it needs to win it all. ''Are we the favorites? I don't know. Do other people view us that way? I don't know,'' Armstrong said. ''That's the way I view us and that's what I want to impress upon our players.'' DEEP BLUE SEE: Hitchcock rolls four lines, the last of them at times as dangerous as the first down the stretch, with veteran pickups Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow replacing departed Andy McDonald and Scott Nichol. ''I think the Blues have been a team that's been knocking on the door the last few years and I think they can be a team that can push through it,'' Morrow said after getting a one-year deal Monday. ''I wanted to be a part of that.'' ITCHY DEFENSE: The Blues are strongest on the blue line, with defensemen who are offensive threats. Kevin Shattenkirk also itches for a chance to jump into the play while veterans Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold are steady in front of a deep goaltending crew. The tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott is getting pushed by Jake Allen, who was impressive extended duty last season. CUP OR BUST?: Rather than more offense, Hitchcock said across-the-board improvement is the key to making that leap for a franchise that's yet to win a Stanley Cup. Everything is on the list: a better power play and penalty kill, tighter checking and a determination never to ease off the gas. Bouwmeester got a long-awaited first taste of the playoffs last spring, followed by a five-year contract extension in August. He welcomes the pressure. ''There are high expectations, but that's a good situation to be in because that's the business we're in,'' Bouwmeester said. ''I think we've got a group that's got as good a chance as anybody.''
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon


McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker