In their return to play, the St. Louis Blues went 2-0-0, and continue to show their depth. The organizational depth has been more prevalent this season than ever before, which was to be expected in this type of season with a lot of injuries and COVID issues.
The Blues have shown an ability to win in a multitude of ways, whether it’s high-scoring or low-scoring it hasn’t mattered. A lot of that is their versatile roster with many two-way and high-skill players.
Berube Makes History
Since taking over for the Blues after the firing of Mike Yeo in the 2018-19 season, Berube has led them to a 126-67-30 record, with a Stanley Cup to boot. The Blues have been a perennial contender over the last three-and-a-half seasons under Berube, a complete shift from what they were when Yeo was fired. It helps that general manager Doug Armstrong has kept this team afloat with a flurry of moves, but Berube can flat out coach.
As a player, Berube played 1,054 games over 17 seasons with five different teams. He only had 159 points, but the stat that matters is his 3,149 penalty minutes. He was a tough player that nobody wanted to play against, he’s carried that and more into his coaching style. Hopefully, the Blues can figure out an extension to keep Berube here for multiple seasons to come.
Blues Beat Wild 6-4 in Winter Classic
With the freezing temperatures, the Blues took the game over and beat the Minnesota Wild by two goals, thanks to a dominant second period. The Blues are now 2-0 in the Winter Classic, their first one being a win over the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017.
The above picture of Ryan O’Reilly shows how cold it was in Minneapolis at Target Field, the sight of the NHL’s 14th Winter Classic. The temperature reached minus-10 Fahrenheit during the game, but with all of that, the pucks and ice were good, which is somewhat surprising. Clearly, hockey is a cold-weather sport, but that was a different level of cold.
The Blues have a wealth of young players contributing right now, from Robert Thomas to Jordan Kyrou, Scott Perunovich, and more. Kyrou and Thomas are unfair in the offensive zone, and their defensive play is underrated as well. Adding Vladimir Tarasenko to their line was a brilliant move by Berube, it paid off in a major way.
By moving Tarasenko, they were able to add a different Russian to their third line – Klim Kostin played a solid game with Pavel Buchnevich and Ivan Barbashev. This game was a team effort by the Blues, reminiscent of what makes this team a Cup contender.
Kyrou Sets Winter Classic Records
Kyrou was phenomenal for the Blues in their Winter Classic victory. He tallied four points, which is the most in a Winter Classic game. He got all four of his points in the second period, which means he set the record for most points in a Winter Classic period as well.
He has missed four games this season, but he is now second on the Blues in points with 32, trailing Tarasenko who has 33. His breakout season has been a blast this season, he’s four points away from his career high, which was last season in 55 games.
He can be inserted on any line and contribute, and with the Blues depth at center, he will continue to be a force offensively. I would not take him off of the Thomas line though, those two have a chemistry that is nearly unmatched on this team.
Three Players Assigned to Springfield
The Blues assigned goaltender Charlie Lindgren, forward Alexei Toropchenko, and defenseman Calle Rosen to the American Hockey League (AHL) following the Winter Classic win. None of those players played in that game, so they need reps and they will get them with the Springfield Thunderbirds
Goaltender Ville Husso is back for the Blues, and he has had a good season. In seven starts, he has a save percentage (SV%) of .927 and is 3-2-1 in those games. The Blues are getting healthier, so this is a positive and negative development. Lindgren was incredible with the Blues, but he’s the unfortunate odd man out in net. He had a .958 SV% in five games, his run was great, but he had to be sent down to get reps.
Toropchenko showed his skating ability, and he proved that he can be a fantastic depth forward for this team. As for Rosen, he was shaky in his games played for the Blues this season, and remains a solid depth player for this team. I believe we will see these guys again this season at some point.
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday: at Pittsburgh Penguins, 6:30 PM
- Friday: vs. Washington Capitals, 7 PM
- Sunday: vs. Dallas Stars, 1 PM
This is a challenging week of games, maybe the most challenging one yet. They’ll play two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and a familiar division foe with the Stars. The Blues are more healthy now than they’ve been most of the season, they must continue to rack up points.
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Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.