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Season Preview 2019-20: St. Louis Blues

The defending Stanley Cup champions made only minor alterations to their roster and enter the campaign with a target on their backs.

Is Jordan Binnington the real deal?
After arriving on the scene midway through the 2018-19 campaign, Binnington posted eye-popping numbers that saved St. Louis’ season and put him in the conversation for the Calder and Vezina Trophies, and he followed up his regular-season performance by backstopping the Blues to their first Stanley Cup. Now he has to prove he’s no flash in the pan. It would be foolish to expect him to post numbers similar to his .927 save percentage and 1.89 goals-against average from his freshman campaign, but if he can cement himself as a true No. 1 netminder in St. Louis, he will have solved one of the Blues’ biggest problems, making pricy and unreliable backup Jake Allen disposable.

Is returning the same lineup the best course of action?
It’s a rarity in the salary-cap era, which has often seen title-winning teams forced to make tough decisions in the wake of their victories, but the defending Stanley Cup champions haven’t made a single major change to their lineup. With Patrick Maroon still a UFA, the most notable for-sure departure was defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, who played 20 games and averaged less than 12 minutes per contest. Sometimes, it’s best not to mess with a good thing, and GM Doug Armstrong hasn’t. That said, the Blues weren’t a perfect team, and it’s going to be much more difficult for St. Louis to address its issues, however minor they might be, during the season.

Will the dreaded Cup hangover result in a slow start?
The Blues know all about digging themselves a serious hole. Last season, St. Louis was dead last in the league come early-January. That set the stage for a historic turnaround that culminated with a championship parade, but the Blues can’t stumble out of the blocks again. That would be playing with fire, especially in a division as strong as the Central, which features five bona fide Stanley Cup contenders. It’s not as though St. Louis can execute another coaching change and expect that to right the ship if it does struggle. That worked last season with the firing of Mike Yeo and hiring of Craig Berube, but it won’t happen again.

Stanley Cup Odds: 22/1

Rookie Watch
It took Jordan Kyrou one campaign in the AHL to turn heads, and his 43-point performance in 47 games was enough to earn him a 16-game look with the Blues last season. If he doesn’t sneak into the lineup out of training camp, he’s going to be a priority call-up.

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