The pitching ought to be OK. But with AramRam and Gamel filling big roles, I'm not sure their offense can duplicate last season's showing.
Excellent question. The Red Wings have all that talent and experience and the Predators have the dominant goaltender and the excellent defensive corps. Right now Nashville is playing very, very well. But . . . until they prove otherwise, the Red Wings are still the Red Wings. Therefore Blues fans might want to keep rooting against them.
NCAA basketball is a billion-dollar industry. At the very least players deserve their share of the merchandising revenue. This is America.
Corey Crawford had another hiccup in goal. The lack of steady goaltending, along with Jonathan Toews' concussion, greatly diminished that team.
But, again, uneven goaltending can knock a team out of the playoffs in a hurry. That is why the Blues are fortunate to have a quality Plan B if Halak gets hurt or blown up.
Johnny Quick is playing well at the right time. Finally that team is rolling more than one effective offensive line. That team might be waking up at the right time -- or the wrong time for its first-round opponent.
The league is trying a lot of stuff. Helmet technology is one development. The league addressed the problem of some rink glass not having enough give. Through longer suspensions and bigger fines, the league is legislating against head shots. But players are getting bigger, faster and stronger so the collisions will keep doing more damage.
If the team finally gets new ownership, retaining key players will become easier. But I don't see this team spending to the NHL salary cap again unless another billionaire comes out of nowhere to underwrite eight-digit annual losses.
Halak played remarkably well down the stretch. That showing, combined with his previous experience, makes him an easy choice to start. But if he falters, Hitchcock also has great confidence in Elliott for obvious reasons. Nice situation.
I'm sure Matheny likes how Westbrook responded to his so-so season and how Lohse looks another year removed from arm surgery. Those are big spring developments for a team needing to replace Carpenter for months. Craig's quick comeback, Wainwright's full recovery and the bullpen showing are other pluses.
That was the O Train, Oscar Tavares, pinch running on TV. And he could get a look as early as late 2013, given his unlimited hitting potential.
We hit that question earlier, when I overlooked Steen when drawing up possible lines. I could see Schwartz sitting out games, in addition to grinders like Porter, Crombeen and Reaves.
If Justin Blackmon slides to the No. 6 slot in the draft, the Rams may very well draft him. And, sure, the Rams could always trade for a WR if another team develops a surplus. That is where having extra draft picks helps this team rebuild.
Assuming that Kentucky plays hard, avoids a catastrophic injury and ruinous foul trouble, it should live up to the hype and win it all. But in a world which allows a Lehigh to beat Duke and Norfolk State to tilt Mizzou, nothing is "relatively easy."
When McDonald is healthy, the Blues are more adept at shootouts. Overall, though, this team is better equipped to play a strong team game than to prevail in a skills competition.
Other teams may assemble superior No. 1 and No. 2 lines, but a healthy Blues team could end up with guys like Sobotka and Langenbrunner on a fourth line -- which would really be a second checking line. That sort of depth would give Hitchcock the ability to spread scoring while sustaining checking pressure.
Carlo has suffered a high number of injuries in his time here. That will ultimately cost him some dollars on his next contract, unfortunately.