It’s appropriate that the St. Louis Blues play on Halloween night because their season so far has been nothing short of frightening. 3-4-0 and on a four-game losing streak, the entire team will be happy to see the calendar flip over to November. But a few players have truly stood out like sore thumbs on a struggling roster. Let’s take a look at three Blues who are anxious to put October behind them.
For possibly the first time in his five-year Blues career, team captain Ryan O’Reilly looks lost on the ice. The model of consistency throughout his tenure in St. Louis, he has just one point in seven games and is a shocking minus-10 in that time. His time-on-ice has dropped to 18:33 from 19:05 (though some of that has to do with the ascension of Robert Thomas), and his faceoff percentage has dropped to 51.9%, the lowest mark since his aged-22 2013-14 season.
This summer, the Blues chose to allow David Perron to leave as an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Perron’s close friendship and on-ice partnership with O’Reilly were well-documented. And while there’s no telling whether the choice to move Perron has impacted O’Reilly’s results, it is certainly troubling at this early juncture. What is more concerning is that O’Reilly is set to become a UFA himself this summer. Most fans have assumed that the Blues will extend him, but his poor performance so far certainly casts a shadow over those negotiations. With all that in mind, the captain will certainly be happy to see November arrive and hopefully get a fresh start with the new month.
Jordan Kyrou had a two-goal performance in a brutal defeat by the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, which might be the start of a turnaround for him. If it is, it will be a relief to many Blues fans. The star winger and NHL fastest skater competition winner signed an eight-year, $65 million extension this summer, which will soon tie him with Thomas as the team’s highest-paid player. Though some quibbled with dishing out so much money so early, it seemed like a safe bet on the dynamic winger who managed a point-per-game last season.
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Unfortunately, the early returns won’t quiet any of the restless minds that are worried about the big contract. His three goals aside, Kyrou is a minus-10 on the season and often looks lost with the puck on his stick. He has committed several costly turnovers and received gentle criticism from head coach Craig Berube about his toughness in the offensive zone. Hopefully, the two goals are the start of a return to form. But he needs to find that consistency as the calendar turns over to November.
Other than Justin Faulk, you could pretty much pick a Blues’ defenseman at random to occupy this spot, but Torey Krug may have distinguished himself as the worst of the bunch so far. He has a goal and two assists in his seven games but is also a minus-nine, and his minus-0.2 defensive point shares, suggesting that he is actually costing his team games early in the season.
The recent game against the Nashville Predators is a prime example of where Krug struggles. he was on the ice for multiple goals against (a minus-three on the game) and repeatedly failed to clear the net in front of goaltender Thomas Greiss. Then, on the game’s final goal, he fell over himself and allowed a Predators breakaway towards the Blues’ empty net. It was a brutal performance in a tough season so far. Krug needs to step up for his team and bolster the left side of the defense before a challenging month turns into a disastrous season for him and the team.
Critical Stretch for St. Louis
The Blues have five games between Halloween and November 10th. If they don’t right the ship quickly, they risk digging themselves into a hole they can’t climb out of. The old adage goes that only 25 percent of teams that are not in a playoff spot by Thanksgiving make the postseason. Of course, that deadline would be a bit later this season with the delayed start, but it is still a critical stretch for the Blues to make up ground and get back on the right track. O’Reilly, Kyrou, and Krug play too significant a role for the team for them to be playing this poorly. They and their teammates need to bounce back quickly. It may sound dramatic, but before too long, the season will be on the line.