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When hockey returns, the rest of the league should beware of the Blues

When and if the season resumes, you can bet the defending champs will be ready to go. The rest of the league should be terrified of a St. Louis Stanley Cup repeat
Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) celebrates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

ST. LOUIS — Remember hockey? That was fun, right?

It's now been more than two months since we've seen the Blues play a game after the NHL season was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Honestly, it feels longer than that.

Sure, the nostalgia of watching reruns of last year's run to the Stanley Cup has been fun for a bit, but St. Louisans are getting restless. They want to see their team back out on the ice defending the title.

It's still not certain when or even if we'll resume the 2020 season, as the league and health officials still work together to figure out a plan to make games possible. 

However, when hockey does return, you can bet the champs will be ready.

There's not a team in the league better equipped to start a run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final than the St. Louis Blues, and the rest of the NHL should be terrified of a repeat.

The Blues will have a few things working for them when/if we do get hockey again this season. Let's take a look at them.

They're going to be healthy

Yes, this is going to be a lot of time off with little to no ice time for players, and that can mean rust. But, with the obvious exception of Jay Bouwmeester, it should mean a near completely healthy roster.

When the league hit the pause button on the season, Blues fans were waiting with bated breath to see when star forward Vladimir Tarasenko would return to action. He was slated to be back in just a few games, as early as the middle of March. Now, he's had more than enough time to rehab that injured shoulder and should be ready to get back to full speed when teams get the call to return.

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And yes, I know the break has meant all teams have had time to get healthy. But not all teams have a perennial 30 goal scorer ready to return to plug into the equation.

And I wouldn't worry about the players not having their legs under them, either. I would expect a few weeks of practice before any games would resume.

They were at the top of the standings when play was paused

When the season was stopped, every team in the western conference was looking up at the Blues.

It's looking like if the season were to resume, we'd be jumping straight to the playoffs with St. Louis as the top seed in the west.

While there's a very slim chance fans would be allowed inside to provide a true home boost, the Blues would still likely benefit from playing at home, if that's even possible.

The idea for "hub cities" to host playoff games has reportedly also been discussed (with St. Louis as one idea). If St. Louis was picked as a "hub city", this would be a massive boost for the Blues. They'd likely be one of the few teams able to stay at their own homes and be close to their families.

Even if they can't play at home, they'd still likely get one of the lowest-seeded teams in the playoffs, even if the postseason is expanded. Who knows? We could be looking at some kind of large tournament style playoff format with the Blues playing a random bottom of the standings team from the eastern conference.

However it shakes out, the Blues should have some sort of advantage because of their status as top team in the west.

Adversity brings out the best in this bunch

You already know this story from last year.

Against the greatest odds as the worst team in hockey at the start of 2019, nearly this same roster fought its way back all the way to a title.

This year, they've been dealt distractions, injuries, the Jay Bouwmeester incident and now a pandemic. If anyone knows how to rally the troops for another battle, it's Craig Berube.

The NHL is historically incredibly tough to repeat as a champion, due, in part to the grueling grind of the playoffs.

That grind is going to look a bit different this year, but the Blues are positioned to do some damage once again. I certainly wouldn't bet against them when play resumes.

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