End Of Season Report Card: Part One

Kevin Lorenz, Tue, 08 May 2012 23:49:00 GMT

It’s a tradition unlike any other, although it’s happening in May instead of April. It’s the annual insideSTL.com Blues season report card, part one! Please note that the grades are based on personal expectations per player and not on a single scale.

GRADING SCALE:
A+: Surprisingly transcends expectations
A/A-: Exceeds expectations
B+: Better than expected
B: Meets expectations
B-/C+: Slightly below expectations, not disappointing.
C: Slightly disappointing
C-: Moderately disappointing
D+/D: Surprisingly disappointing
F: Unbelievably disappointing

Patrik Berglund:
Berglund finished last season on a high note with career highs in goals (22), assists (30), and thus points (52), earning himself a two-year deal and the expectations of fans that he was primed to become the player the Blues traded up to pick at 25 in 2006. He rewarded fans’ expectations in 2012 by regressing to just 19 goals, 19 assists for 38 points, his second lowest totals in all categories of his four-year career. In nine playoff games, Patrik scored seven points (3g 4a), but did not register a point in the four-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings. His playoff performance raises his grade slightly.
Final Grade: C-

Alex Pietrangelo:
Like Berglund, 2010-2011 was a coming out party for Pietrangelo. In his first full season in the NHL, he notched 43 points in 79 games. Unlike Berglund, Pietrangelo built on last season and asserted himself among the top five best defensemen in the NHL with his 51 points. Production aside, Pietrangelo played top minutes in all situations and will continue progress toward being a perennial Norris Trophy candidate.
Final Grade: A

David Backes:
Another player who impressed in 2011, Backes’ production numbers dropped slightly from 62 points to 52 points while seeing his goal numbers slide back below 30. But his all around play while lining up against the top players in the NHL while even strength and logging heavy minutes on the penalty kill earned the first-year captain a Selke Trophy nomination for best defensive forward, an award for which Backes will contend for the duration of his career.
Final Grade: B

Alex Steen:
Steen was on his way to another solid two-way season before a concussion derailed his progress. He managed to finish 43 games with 28 points and a team-leading +24 rating. In nine playoff games, Steen had just three points (1g 2a) scoring all of them in the San Jose series.
Final Grade: B

Vladimir Sobotka:
Sobotka is what he is, a spark plug with a little offensive ability. His stats reflect that. Though his 20 points were down from a year ago, he also played less time in the top six due to there being less injuries than a year ago. His +12 rating (up 16 points from last season) is more indicative of the type of player he will be expected to be.
Final Grade: B-

Chris Stewart:
It would be fair to call Stewart’s season forgettable, unless it is a sign of things to come. While cleaning out his locker, Stewart reiterated that he believes he is a goal scorer in the NHL. He won’t use this season as evidence in his argument. Having scored 28 goals in each of the previous two seasons, his totals dropped to just 15, just 2 of those on the power play, his previous bread and butter. Ken Hitchcock’s defensive system will lead to slightly diminished goal totals, but this was just too much.
Final Grade: D

Jamie Langenbrunner:
Langenbrunner wasn’t brought in to lead the team in goals, and with six goals, he didn’t come close. He was however expected to be a leader on this team, and according to reports from the players, he did. (David Backes and T.J. Oshie among those who raved about his influence in the room). He posted a +7 rating playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, not a bad season for the veteran.
Final Grade: B-

B.J. Crombeen:
Crombeen didn’t get a fair start to the season after his injury at the end of the pre-season, and played catch up for the rest of the year when he finally did return and played 40 games. Crombeen was expected to help provide team toughness in the absence of Cam Janssen, and in his 40 games, he posted 71 PIMs. Once utilitzed in a shutdown role, it appears he will be more of a fourth liner in years to come.
Final Grade: C

Scott Nichol:
Another player brought in for his leadership, Nichol was a dependable influence within the Blues’ room. He surprised some early in the season with his willingness to drop the gloves when needed, adding physicality to his faceoff winning and penalty killing abilities. Prior to this season he had averaged around 17 points, but age and limited playing time are at least partially to blame for his drop to just 8 points.
Final Grade: B-

Ian Cole:
Cole spent time between the AHL and NHL, playing 26 games for the second year in a row. He raised his point totals slightly from 4 to 6 points. Cole’s suspension in January may have derailed him just a bit.
Final Grade: C+

Ryan Reaves:
An upgrade in the enforcer’s department, Reaves’ first season ended with four points and 124 PIMs in 60 games. At times, Reaves was a dominant force on the Blues’ fourth line working in a strong forecheck and cycle into his game. It appears that there will be more offense in his game in the upcoming years. One of the best players in game one of the playoffs, Reaves would only play one more game in the postseason after that.
Final Grade: B-

Evgeny Grachev:
The Blues didn’t risk much when they moved a third round pick to acquire the enigmatic Russian, but they gave him every opportunity to stick with the big club. He responded by posting four points in 26 games. To say Grachev was remarkably disappointing would be to say there were heavy expectations, but it wasn’t a good season for Evgeny.
final grade: c-

Brian Elliott:
Brian Elliott has had a hell of a calendar year. Signed to a two-way contract as an insurance policy for Jaroslav Halak and Ben Bishop, Elliott instead posted a 23-10-4 record (1.56 GAA, .940 %) and 9 shutouts en route to an All Star Game nomination, the only Blue to get one. The only caveat to his remarkable run was that he just played 38 games. Considered a savior of the early Blues’ season, Elliott wasn’t able to continue his miracle run into the second round of the playoffs.
Final Grade: A

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