The St. Louis Blues return to action for the first time since Jan. 29, when they lost 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets. The Blues are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and 17-5-2 at home, while the Devils are 6-15-2 on the road. Here’s a look at the storylines and projections ahead of Thursday’s matchup:
|GOALS FOR |
|POWER PLAY||PENALTY KILL|
|BLUES (26-13-5)||.648 (12th)||3.43 (6th)||2.70 (9th)||28.5 (2nd)||84.3 (T-4TH)|
|DEVILS (16-26-5)||.394 (27th)||2.83 (20th)||3.49 (29TH)||17.5 (24th)||82.4 (11th)|
2 Storylines: Blues (25-12-5)
Kyrou Back From All-Star Weekend
The lone Blues representative in Vegas last weekend made his mark, winning the Fastest Skater competition and scoring two goals and three assists in two 3-on-3 games during the tournament. Kyrou‘s time of 13.55 seconds beat three-time winner Connor McDavid, who claimed the title in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
During his first game of the All-Star tournament, Kyrou scored off a two-on-one with St. Louis native, Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. Kyrou’s four points make him just the fourth player in franchise history to record four or more points in any All-Star Game format, along with Adam Oates (five points in 1991), Vladimir Tarasenko (four points in 2015), and Ryan O’Reilly (four points in 2019). In his second game of the tournament, Kyrou contributed a lone assist in his team’s 5-3 loss to the Metropolitan Division, the victors of the All-Star tournament.
Blues Make Multiple Moves
The Blues front office has been busy over the last few days. On Feb. 8, the organization placed rookie defenseman Scott Perunovich on long term injured reserve. When asked about the move, head coach Craig Berube stated, “I put him on IR because he’s not ready to play. We’ve got to get him up and running again. Got to get healthy. When that happens, he’ll be a player again.”
Management also announced a flurry of activity over the last two days, including re-signing depth players. The 32-year-old Robert Bortuzzo was the first extension announced after he re-signed with the club for $1.9 million over the next two years. The 78th overall draft pick from 2007 is now in his 11th season in the NHL and eighth with the Blues. Through 454 regular-season games, he has 18 goals and 66 points, along with 443 penalty minutes.
Shortly after his extension, the club also announced they had extended St. Louis native, Logan Brown to a one-year, $750,000 contract. Drafted 11th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2016, the forward was traded to the Blues on Sept. 25, 2021, in exchange for Zach Sanford. Through 17 games with the Blues, Brown has three goals and six points.
The Blues also announced Alexi Toropchecko has signed a one-year, two-way contract extension worth $750,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 in the AHL. The organization’s fourth-round draft choice from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has not been an offensive stand-out in his time in North America, scoring 13 goals and 22 points over 93 games.
Finally, the organization announced the long-anticipated contract extension of head coach Craig Berube. Arguably the team’s most important pending free agent, Berube, inked a three-year deal that will take him through the 2024-25 season. When asked about his decision to re-sign, Berube told stlouisblues.com: “Why would I want to go anywhere else? I love it here.” He is now in his fourth season with the franchise and has a 133-71-30 regular-season record and a Stanley Cup championship (2019).
2 Storylines: Devils (16-26-5)
Devils Snap Losing Streak
Over their last 10 games, the New Jersey Devils are 2-8-0 and finally snapped their seven-game losing streak in a blowout 7-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Though the victory came against the worst team in the NHL, it should help to boost the mentality of the players and coaches. The Devils got multi-point efforts from four players, including a two-goal night from 24-year-old Michael McLeod and one goal from Tomas Tatar, who had not scored in 11 games, dating back to Jan. 6.
“To come out with that energy in a back-to-back, you’re always worried because we come off (the All-Star) break,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “That first game you usually have good energy. Sometimes, the second game not as much, but we got what I would call a four-line effort. We used all six defensemen, and we had a real strong skating performance out of everybody.”
Youth Movement Taking Charge in New Jersey
The Devils have not had a winning record since the 2017-18 season when they lost in the first round of the playoffs after a 44-29-9 season. History has not been kind to the organization over the last decade. Since losing in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the club has a 290-315-107 record over their last 10 seasons. They’ve earned higher draft choices because of it, and their time might finally have arrived.
New Jersey boasts two first-overall selections in Jack Hughes (2019) and Nico Hischier (2017), along with four others drafted in the first round. With an average age of 25.7 years old, they are the youngest team in the NHL and just over two years younger than the league average of 28. Led by Jesper Bratt (23), four of their top five point producers are under the age of 25. If the Devils can stay healthy, they will be a club to watch in the coming seasons.
Players to Watch
St. Louis: Kyrou – Leading the team with 17 goals, the All-Star should come out flying against the struggling Devils.
Devils: Damon Severson – With one goal and nine points in his last 10 games, Severson is the defenseman to watch.
Projected Line Combinations
St. Louis Blues
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Brayden Schenn||Ryan O’Reilly||Pavel Buchnevich|
|Jordan Kyrou||Robert Thomas||Vladimir Tarasenko|
|Brandon Saad||Ivan Barbashev||David Perron|
|Klim Kostin||Tyler Bozak||Oskar Sundqvist|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Niko Mikkola||Colton Parayko|
|Torey Krug||Justin Faulk|
|Marco Scandella||Robert Bortuzzo|
New Jersey Devils
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Yegor Sharangovich||Nico Hischier||Jesper Bratt|
|Jimmy Vesey||Pavel Zacha||Tomas Tatar|
|Andreas Johnsson||Dawson Mercer||Jesper Boqvist|
|Mason Geertsen||Michael McLeod||Nathan Bastian|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Jonas Siegenthaler||Damon Severson|
|Ty Smith||P.K. Subban|
|Colon White||Ryan Graves|
Blues’ Next Game: Saturday, Feb. 12 vs Chicago Blackhawks (7 PM CST)
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.