3 Blues Players Who Need to Produce in the 2022 Playoffs

As the NHL playoffs get closer, the St. Louis Blues will be looking for their players to continue to produce when they face the Minnesota Wild in the first round. They’ve been hot for over a month now, but they can’t afford to cool down, and those players who are not producing at their usual level must step up when the playoffs arrive. Here’s who they are.

Ryan O’Reilly

His offensive numbers this season have been down, but make no mistake, Ryan O’Reilly has still been fantastic. His line with David Perron and Brandon Saad has been dependable in the defensive zone, and they are starting to move the puck well. This is a potential breakout line in the playoffs. They’ve arguably been the Blues’ third-best line recently, but they could be the most important in the next couple of months.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues Winter Classic
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues Winter Classic (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

While he only has 17 goals and 51 points in 73 games this season, his impact in the face-off circle and the defensive zone has remained high. Perron’s inconsistency at the halfway mark had an impact on O’Reilly’s production, but that hasn’t been an issue in a couple of months now. Chemistry has been a key factor for O’Reilly and his linemates, and it’s taken time to develop it with Saad, but they’ve started to click.

He has been a force in two of three playoff appearances with the Blues, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019. He had 23 points in 26 games during the 2019 run and followed that up with 11 points in nine games in the 2020 playoff bubble. He has a habit of scoring big goals for the Blues and should do so again in the playoffs. He also has more goals against the Wild than any other team, with 16 in 52 games.

Jordan Kyrou

It’s been an enormous season for Kyrou, who has been electrifying with the puck and was named an All-Star. He’s struggled for the last month but has popped back up on the scoring sheet recently. He has 68 points in 69 games and has a great chance to get the Blues a fourth 70-plus-point scorer.

Jordan KyrouFirst Half (Before All-Star Break)Second Half (After All-Star Break)
Games Played4029
Plus/Minus (+/-)+6+6
Average Time on Ice (ATOI)16:1816:50

Source: Hockey Reference

The numbers don’t tell the entire story here, as his second half hasn’t been all that bad. Despite averaging more ice time by over 40 seconds, his scoring is down, and that’s bound to happen for a young player. Overall, the big complaint with Kyrou has been his lack of defensive responsibility and back-checking. All of that is fair, but what he does best is skate with the puck and shoot it.

Related: 4 Keys to Blues’ Potential 2022 Playoff Success

One thing that has helped his consistency over the last couple of weeks has been the line he’s on. He’s a clear fit alongside Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev, and they have produced a lot of goals as of late. While both Kyrou and Robert Thomas are electric players, playing them on different lines is the right move. The Blues need a healthy and confident Kyrou going into the playoffs, which would make them even more dangerous.

Jordan Binnington

I could go with either goaltender for this one, but I’ll go with the more experienced and likely long-term starter, Jordan Binnington. He has strung together three starts with 30-plus saves, and two games with a save percentage (SV%) above .940. It’s been a whirlwind of a season for him, but he’s starting to settle in behind a defensive unit that has seen better days.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’s been an interesting career for Binnington, with two high-level seasons, one average season, and one down season, in that order, which has to make the Blues worried that the six-year deal they gave him last season could be a major issue moving forward. While I assume that Ville Husso will get the first chance in the playoffs, Binnington should be ready to go at any moment, especially with the Wild’s goal-scoring ability.

After the 2019 Cup run when Binnington won 16 games and had a SV% of .914, his last two playoff appearances have been tough. While the defensive coverage in front of him was lacking, and the Blues struggled to defend against transition offense, Binnington struggled mightily with a SV% of .875 and a record of 0-9-0. A lot of the team’s success will depend on how Husso plays, but Binnington must produce if he gets a chance in net.

The Blues have owned the Wild with a 9-0-1 record dating back to late last season, so this will be an incredibly tough battle. Both teams play a similar style and have a great amount of experience against each other, with 10 games head-to-head over the last calendar year. The Blues need these three players and more to produce to have any amount of playoff success this time around.

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