Revisiting St. Louis Blues bold predictions for 2023-24: Rutherford vs. the readers — who was more accurate?

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How about a little game between subscribers and me?

In August, I came up with my 10 bold predictions for the Blues’ 2023-24 season. Then, in October, subscribers sent in their own bold predictions. Now that the season is over, let’s look back and see who had more come true.

We can even keep score.

Some of the predictions were a little vague, like me saying that new Blues center Kevin Hayes would “boost chemistry.”

I guess since I’m the judge of this little contest, I may just vote that Hayes did give the locker room a shot in the arm and claim the point.

That ain’t fair, you say? I hear you, but I’ll explain as I go. Let’s just have some fun with it.

Since I made 10 predictions, I’ve chosen 10 of the 22 predictions that were sent in by subscribers. Don’t worry, I picked a few of yours that were spot-on, so you guys are going to be in good shape.

Here goes…

My bold predictions…

1. Blues won’t name Brayden Schenn captain (but should)

When I wrote this last August, I was hearing that the Blues may not name a captain, so I felt fairly good about this one. Three weeks later, of course, Schenn got the C. Welcome to life as a sportswriter trying to read the tea leaves!

Result: Incorrect

2. Kevin Hayes will boost the chemistry

As mentioned above, this one is a bit subjective. However, I was in the locker room a lot this season and witnessed Hayes engaging teammates with some back-and-forth banter. So I’m going to give myself credit, but for no other reason than I don’t think I’m going to get many others right!

Result: Correct 

3. Jordan Kyrou will score 45 goals

He only got to 31, but I would’ve gotten this one right if the season were a bit longer! He had 10 goals in the final 13 games, so if there had just been a few more weeks on the schedule, I would have been fine! That doesn’t matter? Ugh! What about all the posts he hit? Dang!

Result: Incorrect

4. Jake Neighbours will play on the second line

You might be wondering why I specified the “second line.” That’s because going into the season, former Blues coach Craig Berube had Neighbours penciled in on the fourth line. I thought he could contribute on the second line if given the chance, and that proved to be the case. But certainly I wasn’t thinking top-line minutes and 27 goals, which he managed.

Result: Correct

5. Torey Krug will get traded

He could still get traded, but it won’t be in time to make my prediction accurate. After the Blues tried to deal him to Philadelphia last summer, it seemed like only a matter of time before they’d find a club to which he’d accept a trade. But nothing has materialized to date, and he remains on the roster.

Result: Incorrect

6. Scott Perunovich will play 70 NHL games

He finished with 54 games, so I came up 16 short. I knew that I was in trouble when he was a healthy scratch in nine of the first 11 games of the season. He did stay healthy for the most part but did miss seven games with a lower-body injury, which didn’t help my projection.

Result: Incorrect

7. Jordan Binnington will have a .915 save percentage

After he finished with an .894 save percentage in 2022-23, I was pretty proud midseason when he was hovering around .915. Ultimately, he finished with a .913, so I’m taking an “L” on this one, but I think I had the spirit of it right.

Result: Incorrect

8. Oskar Sundqvist will be re-signed, but not Jakub Vrana, Kasperi Kapanen

Boom! Well, not quite yet. But Sundqvist did sign a new deal in March (two years, $3 million), and while Kapanen could still be back, I think that I have a better chance at getting offered a contract than Vrana.

Result: Correct

9. Jamie Rivers will make us forget about Darren Pang

This was a fun-loving joke, as I enjoy hockey analysis from both of the TV color analysts. I was never going to win this one because Blues fans won’t soon forget Pang, to whom they gave a huge ovation when he returned with the Chicago Blackhawks. But Rivers is a pro and will become even more seamless as he gets more chemistry with play-by-play man John Kelly.

Result: Incomplete

10. Jimmy Snuggerud will join the Blues at season’s end

It was a guess, but I thought we’d see the Blues prospect who was playing his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota. We didn’t, and the fact that he decided not to turn pro means that he’ll remain with the Golden Gophers for the start of the 2024-25 season — unless he changes his mind. But even if he does, that won’t help my prediction.

Result: Incorrect

Subscriber bold predictions…

1. Jakub Vrana scores 40-plus goals. — John D.

He only fell 38 goals short. Based on this prediction alone, shouldn’t I automatically win this game?

Result: Incorrect

2. Jake Neighbours scores 12 goals playing on the third and fourth line. — Lamar O.

He did score 12 goals — before the end of December. I know your prediction was that he’d get 12 playing in the bottom-six, but if I’m not mistaken, he did that before getting promoted to the top six.

Result: Correct

3. Torey Krug will make the All-Star team with 35-plus points. — Daniel G.

I want to give you half-credit because he did have 39 points. But the All-Star part…

Result: Incorrect

4. Jordan Kyrou’s plus-minus rating is even for the year. — Kyle F.

After he was minus-38 last season, this was quite the prediction. And though you weren’t correct — Kyrou was minus-12 — he was better defensively. If you look at the five-on-five goals that were scored for and against when he was on the ice, he was an improved minus-8 this season after being minus-16 in that department last year.

Result: Incorrect

5. Jordan Binnington gets his fight. — David L.

Gosh, it would’ve been fun if the linesmen would’ve let Binnington and Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury throw a few haymakers when they tried to square off in 2023. Some day, perhaps. This season, not only did Binnington stay out of the ring, but aside from a minor dust-up with Anaheim’s Ross Johnston, he was pretty subdued by his standards.

Result: Incorrect

6. Joel Hofer will play 30 games. — Scott F.

Well, how about this prediction! Indeed, Hofer finished with exactly 30 games (27 starts, three relief appearances). So very nice, but I would’ve been more impressed if you had predicted his record: 15-12-1. I’m kidding, way to go!

Result: Correct

7. The Blues will finish with 90-plus points, which will be enough to keep them “in it” until late in the season before falling just short of the playoffs. — Brian S.

OK, this is pretty incredible!

Let’s go through the checklist:

  • 90-plus points? (92)
  • In it until late the season? (Game No. 80)
  • Just short of the playoffs? (Six points shy)

Result: Correct

8. Blues coach Craig Berube gets fired midseason and is replaced by Joel Quenneville. — Scott F.

A lot of Blues fans were shocked to see Berube dismissed in December, so credit to you. I don’t think you were wrong to think Quenneville could’ve been his replacement. I believe there was mutual interest between Quenneville and his former club, but with him needing NHL approval to return to the bench, there wasn’t a way for the reunion to work. So good call on Berube, but I’m going to hold you to both parts of your prediction.

Result: Incorrect

9. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong concedes that a more substantial rebuild is needed — David F.

Fortunately for Armstrong and the Blues, the season went as the organization expected, so they will be staying the course with the retool.

Result: Incorrect

10. The ghost of John Denver haunts the mezzanine level at Enterprise Center until the Blues finally stop playing “Country Roads” in the third period. — Jeff T.

This song has been a hot-button topic for a few years, so you weren’t alone with your preseason rage. It was still part of the in-game presentation this season, but it was in the second period — not the third — so you win! I’m not sure how much Mr. Denver’s ghost had to do with this, though.

Result: Correct

Final score

Rutherford (3-6-1)

Great job, subscribers! How can I claim to be a Blues insider when I only get three of my predictions correct? I even cheated a bit, giving myself credit for Hayes’ help with the chemistry. I should have cheated on the Rivers-Pang question, too, taking a point there instead of an incomplete. Ah, enough, I’m a sore loser!

Subscribers (4-6)

With just one of your first five predictions coming true, you were in trouble. But Scott F. and Brian S. got you back on track with their bang-on picks, and with Jeff T. coming up clutch at the buzzer, you pulled out the win. This was a lot of fun! Let me know in the comment section if you enjoyed it, and if so, we’ll do it again next season.

(Photo of Jordan Binnington and Torey Krug: Jeff Curry / USA Today)

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