Seven Western clubs on the outside looking in

Published Sep. 21, 2009 8:27 p.m. ET

With the NHL preseason now under way and the season fast approaching, here's a look at the seven Western Conference clubs which could finish outside this season's playoff picture.

St. Louis Blues: Returning to the playoffs last spring for the first time in five years has placed heightened expectations upon this young Blues roster. Goaltender Chris Mason was the main reason the Blues made the postseason and he'll have to be at his best if they're to qualify again. The return of a healthy Paul Kariya should provide a big boost to their offense as well as the anticipated development of young forwards David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund and David Perron. Young D-man Erik Johnson will be back from season-ending knee surgery a year ago. The Blues enter this season with lots of promise but they'll need their key veterans to stay healthy and their young talent to keep improving if they're to build upon it.