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Season is Over But There is Still Work to be Done

by Jeff Ponder

When you look at the NHL playoff picture, you will see that the eight playoff teams have been decided and the match-ups are set. The St. Louis Blues are not one of those top teams.

This was determined Tuesday, April 6 when Avalanche rookie Matt Duchene beat Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo in the final round of the shootout to win the game, clinch the playoffs and end the Blues' playoff hopes. The Canucks have yet again found a way to end any post-season dreams for the St. Louis team.

But the season did not end there. The Blues still had three games remaining on the schedule, including two against division opponents (Blackhawks and Predators), and one against the Anaheim Ducks. The Blues came out flat against the Blackhawks, but they battled back from a 6-1 deficit and ended the game 6-5, still showing that they had something to prove. Just two points behind ninth-place Calgary with one game in hand, the Blues finished their season with a bang. They beat Anaheim 6-3 in Keith Tkachuk's final home game and lost to Nashville in the final game of the season in a shootout, 2-1. This meant that the Blues tied Calgary with the exact same record, but took the tiebreaker with a better head-to-head record against the Flames. After all, ninth place is more respectable than tenth.

But the workload does not end on the rink. The team still has 13 players that are currently on their roster that do not have contracts going into the 2010-11 campaign, including young-guns David Perron and Erik Johnson, and starting goalie Chris Mason. Blues' management has to be feeling the pressure, as more than half the roster will be up for grabs come July 1.

On top of the Blues roster, management must decide which players that are working their way through the ranks will stay with the organization. Currently, such players as Peoria's Jonas Junland, Tyson Strachan, and Nicholas Drazenovic will become restricted free-agents. Junland is expected to be a NHL-type player, while the verdict is still in on Strachan and Drazenovic. But these players could prove to be useful in the future.

With one of the toughest off-seasons coming up for Blues President John Davidson and company thus far, it will be very interesting to watch what exactly goes on in St. Louis. Some changes will need to be made for the Blues to be a true playoff contender every year, but re-signing some key players will be vital for success. This summer will be one that makes Davidson into a hero or a zero in the Gateway City.

Stay tuned in with Jeff Ponder's BluesNetMix blog by checking in every Tuesday at bluesnetmix.com.


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