ST. LOUIS -- Despite Stanley Cup Playoff failure in each of the past four seasons, the St. Louis Blues don't feel they've taken steps backward.
It likely will be more difficult to qualify from the Western Conference this season, so getting off to a quick start will be pivotal to remaining at or near the top of the standings. St. Louis started last season 9-3-1, including a seven-game winning streak.
After opening at home Oct. 8 against the Edmonton Oilers, the Blues head out for their longest road trip of the season: six games, including five to Canadian cities.
"The players themselves feel like we underperformed in the playoffs from what we did in the regular season," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "There's real disappointment, and I think we're going to see a higher level of focus than we've ever seen here before from the people that this really, really matters to. I think you're going to see a whole other gear get performed by some people who don't want this to ever happen again."
Here are four reasons for the Blues to be optimistic: