1. Jordan Binnington dragged the Blues into the playoffs with his stellar play. Is this it for Jake Allen or does he still have a future with the Blues?
That’s a good question. This team’s all about a good goalie controversy and this one almost looks solved. I think that at least for the near future Binnington’s the way to go but cautiously, I think the Blues aren’t done with him yet. They need someone semi-reliable in there and finding goaltenders on the free agent market or through trade is a nightmare. The downside to this is sometimes the pressure of being in a 1A/1B tandem smothers him while allowing the other goalie to shine, and then you wind up with a Brian Elliott/Carter Hutton sort of situation.
2. Jaden Schwartz only had 36 points this year. What happened to him and should he bounce back?
That’s a darn good question too. I’m honestly not sure what was up - if it was because of the team’s slow start or if it was a cause of the slow start or whatever. I’m sure he’ll bounce back next year with some consistency of the team around him.
3. The Blues looked down and out in December. What in the world happened?
I think that the team finally congealed as a unit. The new arrivals were different enough that there was some adjustment time, and the coaching change to a someone who believed that the team could make the playoffs was key. In local interviews the players have really credited Craig Berube with giving them focus and a goal that was attainable. I think he’s a very important part of the turnaround.
4. Tarasenko is one of the best Russian players in the game. Why does he get no respect?
Two words: flyover country. Two more words: he’s quiet.
He’s just not a big, showy player in any aspect of the game. He’s also on a team that’s one of the biggest NHL viewing cities in the country that gets the CNBC slot during the playoffs.
Aside from those reasons, the Blues also haven’t had a lot of postseason success since Tarasenko arrived, and postseason success leads to some attention from bigger outlets and more fans. If the Blues win more, I’m sure that Tarasenko gets more attention.
5. Outside of Tarasenko, who should the Jets watch for offensively?
The fourth line has been pretty solid and sneaky with the scoring as of late, and of course there’s always Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn. David Perron has been a key scorer this year - he finished third on the team with goals (23) although he missed 25 games. He’s fresh off of a run to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Golden Knights, and he’d probably like to go back.