The St. Louis Blues are off to a solid 6-2-1 start on the season after a two-game sweep of the Anaheim Ducks to finish off the month of January. This has been a month of young players being on fire to start the season and some of the veteran players taking a few games to catch up to speed.
The Blues appear to be rounding into form following their 3-0-0 week with a win over the Vegas Golden Knights and two over the Ducks. Some players have stood out more than others to this point.
Third Star: Justin Faulk
Faulk has come to play and play well in his second season with the club. The Blues acquired Faulk in a deal involving Joel Edmundson and Dominik Bokk prior to last season. He had a down season in 2019-20, but he has been terrific in the first month of this season.
Faulk’s minutes have gone up substantially since the club lost Alex Pietrangelo, and he has been up to the challenge. He’s posted two goals and an assist over nine games, he’s also leading the NHL in plus/minus at plus-11.
His physicality has been off the charts, as he’s tallied 34 hits over the nine games, and his shooting percentage is at 8.3% early in the season, it was at 3.4% over the entire 2019-20 season. He had five goals last season as well, he’s already approaching that mark with two in nine games.
It’s a shortened season, but he should be able to surpass that number if he continues to play this well. We could see Faulk eventually slide onto a power-play unit to add to his production. A well-earned star for Faulk.
Second Star: Jordan Binnington
There were questions about how Binnington would respond to being bad in the bubble – I had them as well, and he’s responded quite well to start this season. His numbers have been elite to start the season and some would say he has singlehandedly kept them in games where they didn’t play well.
He is carrying a record of 5-1-1 to begin the season and won three straight starts to finish off the month of January. His one loss in regulation was the game where the Colorado Avalanche scored six power-play goals and the Blues’ penalty-killing unit was awful in front of him. His shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks was not his fault, as he saved 37 out of 38 shots and the Blues could not score more than one goal. He also had a 42-save performance in a win over Vegas.
Overall, with the 5-1-1 record, he has a save-percentage (SV%) of .918 and a goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.49. Both of those numbers are similar to his final numbers last season, but he seems to be more locked in and playing much better this season.
While it’s early in the season, he has a quality start percentage (QS%) of .714, for reference his QS% was .560 last season and .667 in his breakout rookie season. He has done nothing but play a lot of minutes for the Blues over the last couple of seasons and showed no signs of slowing down in the month of January.
First Star: Jordan Kyrou
This is a no-brainer pick, Kyrou has been unbelievably good to start this season, he took an opportunity to play more minutes and ran with it. Many thought Robert Thomas would break out even more – he’s been solid, but Kyrou is breaking out before our eyes.
Kyrou has been a perfect fit alongside Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz – that line has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Blues this season. Kyrou and Schenn have been the most consistent offensive threats for the Blues.
Through nine games, the 22-year-old Kyrou has five goals and five assists for 10 points. Throughout the last four games of January, he tallied three goals and three assists for six points. His minutes will consistently improve and he should continue to grow. He is the best and fastest skater on the Blues, he can create chances by flying through the neutral zone, we’ve seen him get many odd-man rushes and nearly score on them.
The key to the Blues’ success to this point in the season has been majorly in part to these three. In all phases, their best forward, defenseman and goaltender have been these three guys. Other players are starting to play better, namely the line of Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Zach Sanford, should make the Blues much more cohesive and better.
Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.