The St. Louis Blues have broken their four-game losing streak and emerged victorious against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night in a 4-1 victory in St. Louis. Blues forward Brandon Saad scored twice in their matchup, while backup goaltender Ville Husso stopped 26 of 27 shots against in his second start of the season, his first since Oct. 25. When asked his opinion on the Blues returning to “Blues-hockey,” head coach Craig Berube said:
“Yeah, for sure. I thought it was a really good team game. The line changes were really good. I thought that guys competed to block shots and things like. If you watch faceoffs, we dictated on wins and losses — like jumping in and being right on pucks right away. Those things tell me that we’re ready to play. That’s team stuff for me. All that stuff. All those little things.”– Craig Berube from ‘Blues get their game back, beat Sharks 4-1,’ St. Louis Post Dispatch, 11/18/2021
The Blues now turn their attention to their next opponent and head to Texas to take on the Dallas Stars. The Stars came into the 2021-22 NHL season pre-ranked in the middle of the pack as most analysts did not know what to think of the team. The franchise made its way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 and experienced a plethora of issues during the 2021-22 season, including an already condensed schedule, COVID-19 outbreaks, and a winter storm in February that forced the team to miss an entire week of the season. On paper, the Stars have the talent to make a playoff push and even win a round or two.
Here’s a look at a few storylines to follow ahead of Saturday’s game when the two franchises meet for the first of four times this season:
3 Storylines: Blues (9-5-2)
Blues Finding Four Balanced Lines
Before Berube’s line shuffle Thursday night, the Blues saw limited scoring beyond forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Jordan Kyrou.
After losing four straight games, the head coach made adjustments to the lineup by shuffling some players around, which proved to be effective. Saad netted two of the four goals against the San Jose Sharks, while nine different players managed at least one point.
Breakout Party for Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
The 2021-22 season has been very kind to two of the Blues’ top prospects this season. After signing matching two-year, $5.6 million contracts in the off-season, fans wondered how long it would take for these two pillars of the future to take the next step in their development. The answer: immediately.
This season, the 23-year-old Kyrou leads the Blues with eight goals and 10 assists (8-10-18) in 16 games. However, Robert Thomas is also getting in on the breakout party, as he has quietly racked up two goals and 14 assists (2-14-16) in 16 games. The future leaders of the Blues are on pace for 90 and 80 points this season, respectively.
Special Teams Sparking Blues Success
The Blues are currently ranked second in the NHL with 13 goals on 44 opportunities (29.55%). While the team currently sports a 17th overall ranked penalty kill at 81.40%, the Blues are doing their best to limit their opponents’ chances this season and have given up the ninth fewest power play opportunities allowed all season (43). The Stars could have difficulty scoring tonight as their offense enters the game ranked 26th overall with 2.53 goals per game. Don’t let that ranking fool you, though, as the Stars also own the third-best overall power play at 26.83%, just behind the Blues.
3 Storylines: Stars (6-7-2)
Stars Defenseman Heiskanen Leading the Charge
The Stars’ number one defenseman is leading the team with 13 points (3-10-13) in 15 games this season. The defenseman has quickly put himself into conversations for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defenseman. Heiskanen is currently tied for ninth overall in points amongst all defensemen in the NHL and only three points behind the number one overall, Roman Josi. The 22-year old will still have his work cut out for him if he wants to contend for the best defenseman this season.
Sophomore Jason Robertson Hasn’t Missed a Beat
After missing the team’s first six games, forward Jason Robertson has picked up where he left off last season, continuing his scoring ways with nine points in nine games, tied for second-most on the Stars roster.
Drafted 39th overall in 2017, the 22-year-old managed 17 goals and 45 points in 51 games during his rookie season. Robertson went on to finish the season as a Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) finalist.
Stars Goalie Carousel
Through 15 games this season, three Stars goaltenders have been asked to start in at least two different matchups, while a fourth goaltender (Ben Bishop) is still progressing to make his season debut. Splitting starts this season, Anton Khudobin and Braden Holtby have combined for 13 of Dallas’ 15 starts this season, while the 6-foot-5 goaltender, Jake Oettinger has started one game and played in two games this season. Looking for some stability in net, the Stars are still playing musical chairs this year, waiting to see which goaltender comes out victorious and provides consistency in net.
Projected Line Combinations
St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron
Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Vladimir Tarasenko
Brandon Saad – Oskar Sundqvist – Ivan Barbashev
Klim Kostin – Tyler Bozak – James Neal
Torey Krug – Colton Parayko
Scott Perunovich – Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella – Robert Bortuzzo
Jason Robertson – Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski
Jacob Peterson – Tyler Seguin – Alexander Radulov
Michael Raffl – Jamie Benn – Denis Gurianov
Riley Tufte – Radek Faksa – Luke Glendening
Ryan Suter – John Klingberg
Esa Lindell – Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera – Jani Hakanpaa
Blues Next Game: Nov. 22 vs. the Vegas Golden Knights
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.