After the odd stretch where the St. Louis Blues had won just 2 of 12 games, they have bounced back in a big way. They’ve tied their season-high winning streak of eight, after defeating the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
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There have been many key factors in the Blues getting back to their game, so we can highlight a few of them here.
Defense and Goaltending
The Blues are 8-0-0 since acquiring Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Scandella has clearly fit in very well on the shutdown pair with Colton Parayko. The defense has looked much better and that just makes it easier for the goaltenders.
Jordan Binnington appears to have gotten his game back. It helps that the defense has been as coordinated as it has, but he has looked really sharp.
Jake Allen played both games against the Dallas Stars on this streak, both, of course, being wins. He saved 46 out of 50 shots against in those two games, one of which he helped them get a huge shootout win in the second meeting between the rivals.
The Blues have outscored their opponents 28-13 in this eight-game stretch. Thirteen goals against in eight games is a ridiculous stat and one that proves how good this team has been recently. Four of the eight games they have played during this streak have been against Central Division opponents, which is very important.
We have also seen Alex Pietrangelo get back to his earlier season form defensively, and Justin Faulk has looked pretty solid recently as well.
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This is the style that head coach Craig Berube clearly wants them to play, and if they can keep doing this, they can hang onto their lead in the Central. This is very similar to playoff hockey and it’s how you win down the stretch of a season.
The duo of Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz had hit a little bit of a speed bump during the losing stretch, but clearly they are back. Schenn has goals in five-straight games, while Schwartz has three goals and six assists over the last eight games.
They have both been playing with Ryan O’Reilly recently, and that line has been excellent in every zone. Putting three “veterans” like that together has been a great move by Berube. Now I know that all three of these players are under the age of 30, but combined they have about 31 years of NHL experience.
Tyler Bozak and Alexander Steen are a couple of other veterans who are playing well without producing as much. Bozak’s two-way game this season has been very, very good. I noted that in a post back in January, he’s been a legit 200-foot player. Steen is just all business — he plays well every night and helps the youngsters a lot.
Overall, the veterans appear to be a massive help in getting younger players like Vince Dunn, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and others going. This team looks due for another playoff run, especially if the veterans continue to contribute at the rate they have in every zone.
The Young Guns
Organizational depth is huge for a club to do anything, in any sport. The Blues have proven time after time to have organizational depth. Just about every young player that has come into the lineup does something positive. It has been impressive to watch.
Robert Thomas already looks like he will be a star in this league as a playmaking center who just does it all offensively. Zach Sanford is scoring goals left and right, with 15 goals on the season, and the potential to reach 20.
Sammy Blais continues to bring that physical play, and I think that over time the offense will come for him. He has the skill to start producing more, and I think we will see that soon.
Jordan Kyrou didn’t appear to fit early in the season, but ever since he was told he was staying with the big club, he’s been fantastic. There is a lot of offense with Kyrou, and he, along with Thomas look like the future of this team.
Vince Dunn has a goal and two assists over the last five games and is just doing his thing. Dunn has been one of the most consistent defensemen all season in St. Louis.
The future is really bright, with all the good young talent they have, to go along with a good goaltending duo and a large number of good forwards. Just about everything general manager Doug Armstrong has done in recent years has been good. He’s put the franchise in a great spot moving forward.
Now, it’s time to continue to dig in deep and win playoff-style hockey games. Once Vladimir Tarasenko returns, and if he’s back to his normal self, this team can take it to another level.