Welcome to this week’s edition of the St. Louis Blues’ Stock Up, Stock Down, a weekly column detailing the ups and downs of the team’s roster from the week that was.
With a record of 16-16-1, the St. Louis Blues have been both naughty and nice this season. Possibly just in time for the holidays, they’ve been slightly nicer by earning points in five of their last six games. Even still, that’s not quite nice enough for anyone, including Santa, to dismiss their horrid stretches of naughtiness.
Stock Up: Jordan Kyrou
Jordan Kyrou‘s play over the last 30 days has completely erased his slow start from the fan base’s collective memory. In the Blues’ 15 games since Nov. 19, Kyrou has scored 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). Within his last five games alone, he’s recorded six goals (including his first career hat trick) and four assists.
After completing his first NHL hat trick in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks, Kyrou took a shoulder-to-shoulder hit against the glass and subsequently missed the remainder of that contest and the entirety of the next. He’s day-to-day right now with an upper-body injury. Even with missing a game, he led the league in goals (six) and points (9) from Dec. 14 – 21.
Stock Down: Justin Faulk’s Scoring Touch
Justin Faulk’s up-and-down year has mirrored that of the team itself. Coming into the 2022-23 season, you could argue that he was the Blues’ best all-around defender after scoring 16 goals, 47 points, and a career-best plus-41 the year before. Much like the team, he started this season hot, scoring three goals in the first three games.
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Since then, he’s scored exactly one goal in the next 30 games, with his last one coming on Nov. 21. Oddly enough, his 87 shots on goal rank second on the team behind Kyrou, meaning he’s unfortunately running into a bit of bad luck. All that said, he still leads all Blues defenders in points with 18.
Stock Up: Pavel Buchnevich
With his power-play goal against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 20, Pavel Buchnevich became the sixth fastest player in franchise history to 100 points as a Blue. He’s also only the eighth Blue to do so within 100 games. In 97 games, he’s recorded 41 goals and 59 assists.
Since returning to the lineup on Dec. 15 after a brief absence, head coach Craig Berube has been experimenting with Buchnevich at center. In that same time frame, he’s scored four points (two goals, two assists) in four games, two of which (one goal, one assist) have come on the power play (PP). He’s now second on the team to Kyrou (11) in PP points (10).
Stock Down: Top Line
The Blues’ “top line” of Ryan O’Reilly, Brandon Saad, and Josh Leivo have combined to produce only a single point over the last five games. Over that same stretch of games, they’re a collective minus-nine. Head coach Craig Berube isn’t afraid to mix up the lines to regain chemistry, especially after a loss. With the team at 16-16-1 and a big game coming up against the conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights, a change may be in order for this line combo.
Stock Up: Special Teams
Sitting at 23.1% overall, the Blues’ PP unit ranks in the top half of the NHL (14th). Over the last seven days as a team (three games), they’ve scored four goals in 12 power-play opportunities, good for 33.3%, tying for seventh-best over that stretch. Kyrou currently leads the team with six power-play goals (PPG), netting two in the last week alone. Buchnevich sits right behind him with five PPG.
Overall, the Blues’ penalty kill (PK) unit has been fairly bad this season. Cumulatively, their 71.3% PK ranks 28th overall. But over the last four games, they’ve managed to kill 13 of 15 opposing power play opportunities. The only two goals they surrendered were to the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 15. In the three games since against the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and Seattle Kraken, the PK has been perfect.
Stock Down: Losing Ground in Division
The Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets remain atop the Central Division, while the current winning streaks of the Minnesota Wild (six in a row) and Colorado Avalanche (three in a row) have allowed them to separate themselves from the Blues. Now sitting at fifth place in the central with 33 points, the Blues sit five points behind the Avs (38 points) and just one point ahead of the Nashville Predators (32).
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The Blues have played better lately, getting points in five of their last six games (4-1-1), but they have a tough road coming up in the holiday week:
- Dec. 23: at Vegas Golden Knights
- Dec. 27: Toronto Maple Leafs
- Dec. 29: Chicago Blackhawks
- Dec. 31: Minnesota Wild
If the Blues can end 2022 with a winning record, that would go a long way in boosting their chances of making additions to the team to gear up for a playoff push. However, if they struggle to come away with points in these next four games, it could be the right time for general manager Doug Armstrong to start fielding some trade offers.