Blues again banking on youth

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“This is a team that I feel is on that doorstep and has the ability to take that next step into that upper group of teams,” Langenbrunner said.

Along with Pietrangelo and 22-year-old Kevin Shattenkirk, there are veterans Barret Jackman, Roman Polak and Carlo Colaiacovo on defense.

Staying power was the biggest ingredient lacking last season. A blazing 9-1-2 start was followed by a five-game losing streak, and the roster couldn’t overcome significant injuries.

Goalie Jaroslav Halak had three shutouts in that opening sequence but had his cold stretches, too.

The early going promises to be challenging. The first two games are at home, Oct. 8 against Nashville and Oct. 10 against Chicago, and then eight of the next nine are on the road.

“I’ve just felt like it’s been a really long summer,” Stewart said. “I think if we come in and have a healthy year, there’s no reason why we can’t win our division.”

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