By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Stewart's trade to St. Louis couldn't have worked out any better for the Blues. The talented 23-year-old power forward tallied 15 goals and 23 points in 26 games since being acquired from Colorado. He finished with 28 goals and 53 points in 62 games. Here are his comments after the Blues cleaned our their lockers on Monday:
How close is this team to being a playoff team/major contender?
It's really close. I bet the guys that can look back all year can look throughout the year and see three, four, five games that probably we should have won. That's how close this Western Conference is right now. Every game counts right from the get-go. It's really an 82-game grind. Injuries and stuff like that's going to happen along the way, but it doesn't matter. You've got to play through it.
Why was this team not good enough to make it this year?
At the end of the day, everyone individually wasn't good enough. That's why we're not in the playoffs today. No one's going to be too happy leaving the dressing room today. We've got a long time to think about it. It's probably the worst feeling in the summer time, sitting down and watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and you think of, 'What if, what if.' ... Coming into next year, we've got a lot to play for.
Is there another level for you and what do you have to do to be physically better/stronger?
I'm obviously going to have to hit the gym a little harder. I think that was a big reason for my success this year. I was in great shape to start the season. When I was injured for two months (with a broken hand from a fight against Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak), obviously I didn't work out. You can ride the bike as much as you want, but part of my game is being strong out there and feeling strong.
Could the trade from Colorado have worked out any better for you?
As soon as I got traded here, I hit the ground running. We were winning hockey games. A couple injuries along the way were the downfall for us. There's a special bond in this dressing room that I felt as soon as I got here. There's great guys around here and I'm really excited for next year.