Blues Weekly: Buchnevich, Saad, Youngsters, Road Trip & More

Welcome to the first edition of St. Louis Blues Weekly, a weekly post that covers all things Blues from the previous week. In this edition, we discuss St. Louis’ hot start to the 2021-22 season and their four-game win streak.

Related: 3 Standouts from Blues First 3 Games

Many things happened last week, including the emergence of young players, a suspension, and more. Here’s the first edition of Blues Weekly.

Buchnevich Suspended for Two Games

After a good start to his Blues career, Pavel Buchnevich was suspended for two games after headbutting Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse during Monday’s game. He got a match penalty and missed the last two periods of the game before serving his suspension.

He scored a goal early against Arizona and was playing very well before the incident. He returns to the lineup on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings and will play his first game in St. Louis as a member of the Blues. I wonder if head coach Craig Berube will throw him back on a line with Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn; they looked great together.

Hopefully, Buchnevich has learned from this and won’t do it again. He seems to be everything the Blues wanted and more. Let’s hope it remains that way.

Saad Misses Home Opener

Another new Blue who was off to a great start was Brandon Saad. He tallied a goal and an assist in the first three games playing with David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly. He missed the home opener against the Kings due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Since he’s been vaccinated, he must produce two consecutive negative tests before he can return to action. The league is considering relaxing its testing protocols for vaccinated players, but it’s unknown when or if that will happen. The NHL tests vaccinated players more than any of the three major sports leagues in the United States.

Saad’s status for Monday’s game is unknown, but his return seems unlikely given there hasn’t been any news on his status. The Blues will be happy to have a full lineup when Saad, Buchnevich, and Oskar Sundqvist eventually return, although they are already 4-0-0 without them.

Blues Youngsters Have Arrived

If you thought the Blues’ flourishing prospect pool stopped at Kyrou and Robert Thomas, you thought wrong. We’ve seen terrific poise from Klim Kostin and Jake Neighbours early in their NHL careers. Both have scored a goal, and Kostin has two.

Klim Kostin St. Louis Blues
Klim Kostin, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Neighbours has come in and played like a veteran, despite being 19 years old. He’s shuffled between linemates, but it hasn’t stopped him from being effective. Kostin came into the lineup when Buchnevich was suspended, and it will be hard to keep him out.

I expect to see Kyle Clifford and James Neal bumped out when Saad and Buchnevich return because they can’t keep these two youngsters out. I wonder if the Blues will decide to keep Neighbours in St. Louis all season or if they will send him back to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after his nine-game trial. I don’t know if they can justify sending him back if he plays like this in the next five games.

This says a lot about how the Blues players feel about Neighbours:

Either way, these two have played well, and there might be another one waiting in the wings. Scott Perunovich is in the American Hockey League (AHL) if the Blues need some help on the blue line.

The Springfield Thunderbirds are 4-0-1

Like the NHL club, the Blues’ AHL affiliate is off to a hot start, with four wins in their first five games. It’s encouraging to see many of the organization’s prospects and depth players doing well in the AHL.

Perunovich should be with the Blues soon. He’s been electric for the Thunderbirds with a goal and eight assists in five games, to lead the AHL in points. Elsewhere, Matthew Peca has four goals and Nikita Alexandrov has three goals.

Nikita Alexandrov St. Louis Blues Draft
Nikita Alexandrov, St. Louis Blues, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Logan Brown, who the Blues received in the Zach Sanford trade with the Ottawa Senators, has been solid with two goals and two assists in four games. He’s likely near the top of the list of forward call-ups when the Blues have injuries.

Blues top goalie prospect, Joel Hofer has a 3-0-0 record with a save percentage (SV%) of .964. He’s been lights out with 80 saves on 83 shots, so don’t be surprised if he makes a big leap within the next couple of seasons. The Thunderbirds have a great mix of depth and prospects, and with Hofer playing well, they are set to have a great season.

The Week Ahead

  • Monday: vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7 PM

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