22, 26, 20, 20, 24. Those are some of the key numbers from the Blues’ 5-2 win over Columbus on Sunday, their second win over the Blue Jackets in the space of 19 hours. The win propelled the Blues into eighth place in the NHL’s Western Conference.
What are the significance of those numbers? Those are the ages of the Blues goal scorers…T.J. Oshie, Brad Boyes, David Perron, Patrik Berglund and David Backes. The young Blues are maturing before our eyes, and one of the things we learned with the weekend sweep of the Jackets is that the future is now.
Sure, the Blues have some grizzled veterans. Keith Tkachuk turned 37 on Saturday, Andy McDonald is 31 and Chris Mason is 32. There’s an injured graybeard in 34 year old Paul Kariya, but an injured young gun in 21 year old Erik Johnson.
The point is, the plan Blues management had when they got to St. Louis is coalescing. The kids are maturing, perhaps ahead of schedule, and the veterans are still playing like they’re in their prime. This is the Blues first five game winning streak in six years.
Credit is due throughout. From owner Dave Checketts and President John Davidson, to G.M. Larry Pleau and the man that drafted most of the kids, Jarmo Kekalainen. To the terrific role players like Mike Weaver, B.J. Crombeen and Barret Jackman.
When you have a team as young as the Blues, however, your coach is of paramount importance. Despite my misgivings about the use of Perron, Berglund, Jackman and Eric Brewer before his injury, it’s all working out for Andy Murray. I’ll admit…he knows more than I do. The kids are getting better, and some of those veterans that I’ve complained about aren’t hurting the team at all. For that, Murray and his staff deserve mucho credit.
As I write this, I’m well aware that the Blues aren’t even close to being where they want to be. But in 42 years, the Blues have never had this many quality kids ascending at the same time. Even if they don’t make the playoffs, I’m fired up, and ready to pull the trigger on that playoff ticket payment.
Note: Some of you will bring up the 79-80 and 80-81 Blues and their youth. But while Bernie Federko, Brian Sutter, Wayne Babych and Perry Turnbull were VERY young, the only impact rookie on that team was Jorgen Pettersson. This Blues club, with Oshie, Berglund and Roman Polak…along with Perron…is younger. And if we’re lucky, even better.