3 Takeaways From Blues’ 4-2 Win Over the Blue Jackets – 9/29/22

The Enterprise Center in St. Louis was prepped – cold and buzzing in anticipation for the start of the team’s first home preseason game of the year. The St. Louis Blues came into the night’s matchup with a 3-0-0 record taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were also entering with a strong 2-0-1 record. Fans also caught an early look at what could be two regular season lines featuring Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas, and Vladimir Tarasenko, as well as a line of Jake Neighbours, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou.

Of the Blues players rostered for the game, forward prospect Neighbours came into the matchup leading the team with two goals and three points in two preseason games. The goaltending tandem of Colten Ellis and Thomas Greiss were paired once more after pitching a combined 33-save shutout victory over the Dallas Stars.

Blues Depth Powering Team

While the first period felt slow and dull for the Blues, the team was able to rebound and capitalize on opportunities. The start did not hinder forward Thomas as he flashed a few elite-level passes that could have resulted in at least two assists through the first two periods. After the lackluster start saw the Blues outshot 15-7 and a 1-0 deficit early in the game, the team’s top line was able to rebound in the second and third periods to spark the offense for the rest of the game. The trio scored a combined 235 points last season averaging 78 points per player and looks to continue their dominance this coming season. When asked about their play in their 4-2 victory Thomas said,

“I think we had a ton of good chances there and it’s only the beginning. It’s our first game, so just got to keep kind of getting ready every game. They’re gonna get a little bit better and I think we can pick up where we left off and even get a lot better.” (from ‘Blues put their top line on display and hope it can carry them far’, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 9/30/22).

Robert Thomas St. Louis Blues
Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After falling behind 2-0 during the second period, the Blues rapidly scored back-to-back goals 28 seconds apart on a power play goal by Buchnevich and Robert Bortuzzo. They were able to keep their foot on the gas throughout the remainder of the game receiving goals from Hugh McGing and Niko Mikkola to secure the victory. Through four preseason games, they have received valuable contributions from their depth scoring with forwards Logan Brown and Tyler Pitlick contributing four points each through two games, and Noel Accari with three points in two games.

Kostin Could Start Season in AHL

23-year-old Klim Kostin has struggled to find consistency and a role in the NHL. Since being drafted 31st overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he has appeared in only 46 games for the Blues over the last four seasons where he has scored five goals and 11 points. When he received his first real opportunity in the NHL last year, he played 40 games scoring four goals and nine points with a minus-3 rating. After two goals in his season debut against the Arizona Coyotes, it took him 30 games to score his third goal. In that span, he recorded four assists and averaged just over nine minutes of ice time per game.

Playing in his second preseason game of the year, Kostin registered two shots on goal and three hits over 11:02 of ice time. His performance at times has been non-existent, and it is starting to become apparent that he could start the season in Springfield rather than St. Louis. The Blues have multiple players proving their worth, showing a strong desire to remain in the NHL. Forwards Acciari, Pitlick, and Nathan Walker were highly praised by head coach Craig Berube after their game against the Blue Jackets and could force their way onto the opening night roster.

Related: Blues’ Kostin Could Lose Roster Spot Due to Bottom-6 Competition

“I’m pretty impressed,” Berube said. “Acciari has been really good for me. Always on the right side of things and he’s hard to play against. Tenacious guy, smart player. Pitlick and Walker, they’ve done a good job providing forechecking and energy for our team and skating and getting on top of people, penalty kill and things like that. I’m pretty happy with it so far.”

Greiss Continues to Shine

Blues goaltender Thomas Greiss is starting off his time with St. Louis on a high note as he completed his second appearance with the team. After stopping all 10 shots in his game against the Stars, he faced a much more difficult challenge with 25 shots over his 40 minutes during Thursday night’s game. While he did not keep a perfect record, Greiss did help keep his team alive and within one through a busy first period that saw him face 15 shots.

Over the last three seasons, the 36-year-old veteran has struggled to find consistency in net. After spending four seasons with the New York Islanders, he signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings resulting in a 3.14 goals-against average (GAA) and a .901 save percentage (SV%). Entering his 14th season in the NHL, the German netminder has appeared in a combined 347 regular season games with the Islanders, Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Having never appeared in more than 51 games in a single season, the Blues will need to hope starting goaltender Jordan Binnington can remain a steady rock in net this year and utilize the aging Greiss sparingly. 

The Blues will travel to Independence, MO for their next game on Oct. 1, where they will meet the Stars for the second time in six days. They defeated the Stars 4-0 in their last meeting as Josh Leivo scored two goals and registered one assist, while Ellis stopped 23 shots.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe