Despite the loss of Brett Hull the Blues made the playoffs for the 20th straight season by finishing in 2nd place with a record of 37–32–13.
Realignment came, as the NHL went from four to six divisions. Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington were grouped in the Eastern Conference's new Southeast Division and Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver moved into the new Northwest Division in the Western Conference.
Blues captain Chris Pronger was in midseason form during one of the team's voluntary scrimmages in late August. After 90 minutes of exhausting four-on-four hockey with only eight players per team, Pronger was campaigning to prolong the game.
The sentiment was nothing new for a man who logged more ice time per game (30:37) than any other player in the league last season. And when Pronger wasn't on the ice, it seemed that Norris Trophy winner Al MacInnis was. At 35, MacInnis had the finest season of his outstanding 16-year career. He led NHL defensemen in scoring with 62 points, averaged more than 29 minutes per game (fourth in the league) and was +33 on a team whose next-highest mark in that category was center Craig Conroy's +14. The problem for the Blues was finding four other defensemen they wanted to put on the ice.
In training camp the Blues were getting ready for the regular-season wars. During intrasquad games MacInnis and Pronger exchanged slashes—MacInnis called them "love taps"—and Pronger fought rookie forward Brandon Sugden and had a nasty mid-ice collision with defenceman Jamie Rivers, who was subsequently lost in the waiver draft. That ill-tempered defense will help goalie Roman Turek, who had sparkling numbers (16–3–3, 2.08 goals-against average) as Ed Belfour's backup in Dallas last season. Turek, 29, will get his first crack at being a No. 1 goalie now that Grant Fuhr has been shipped to Calgary. Netminding was a problem for the Blues in 1998–99: St. Louis allowed the fewest shots of any team in the league, but its goals-against average ranked only 14th.
The scoring load will fall to 24-year-old forward Pavol Demitra, who broke out last season and led the team with 37 goals and 89 points. His 10 game-winning goals were one behind league-leader Brett Hull of the Stars. Crafty center Pierre Turgeon had a strong postseason (13 points in 13 games) and a solid training camp. The rookie to watch is 22-year-old forward Jochen Hecht, a German who had two goals in five playoff games after a late-season call-up. He has outstanding size (6 ft 3 in, 200 pounds) and skill and is versatile enough to play any position up front.
The Blues are a team with a scrappy attitude, a handful of stars—count 41-year-old coach Joel Quenneville among them—and a future among the Western Conference's elite teams.
Despite the loss of Brett Hull the Blues made the playoffs for the 20th straight season by finishing in 2nd place with a record of 37–32–13. Helping to keep the Blues playoff streak alive was Al MacInnis who won the Norris trophy as the best defenceman in the NHL, while Pavol Demitra provided the scoring touch with 37 goals. In the playoffs the Blues would find themselves in a quick hole as they trailed the Phoenix Coyotes 3 games to 1. However the Blues would rally and take the series in 7 games. However, in the 2nd round the Blues would be knocked off again as they are beaten by the Dallas Stars led by Brett Hull in 6 games. Hull would go on to score the Stanley Cup Clinching goal for the Stars.
The Blues tied the Washington Capitals for the fewest power-play opportunities during the regular season, with just 301. They also tied the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks for the fewest short-handed goals allowed, with 4.Bright spots
- Chris Pronger is poised to become THE defenceman in the NHL, if he's not already.
- Everybody wondered who would step up to replace Brett Hull's goals and, poof, here comes Pavol Demitra with 37.
- LW Jochen Hecht is turning heads and should make the team.
- Geoff Courtnall missed 58 games with a concussion, but has looked good as new in camp. Still, those head injuries are tricky.
- Everybody likes Roman Turek's potential.
- Jury still out on young guns like Michal Handzus, Jamal Mayers, Tyson Nash and Lubos Bartecko.
Divisions: CEN – Central, PAC – Pacific, NW – Northwest
bold – Qualified for playoffs; p – Won Presidents' Trophy; y – Won divisionDuring the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice.
Note:Pos = Position; GPI = Games played in; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes; +/- = Plus/minus; PPG = Power-play goals; SHG = Short-handed goals; GWG = Game-winning goals
Min, TOI = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T,T/OT = Ties; OTL = Overtime losses; GA = Goals-against; GAA = Goals-against average; SO = Shutouts; SA = Shots against; SV = Shots saved; SV% = Save percentage;
James Norris Memorial Trophy - Al MacInnis, St. Louis Blues
First team - Al MacInnis, St. Louis Blues