Blues Weekly: COVID Persists, Schenn, Hofer, Saad & More

The St. Louis Blues continue to play quality hockey with a 1-1-1 record this week. They have battled adversity as well, as they have seen some of the biggest issues as it relates to COVID-19 protocols, not to mention a key injury that popped up this week.

Even so, the Blues are still among the league’s best in points and have the ultimate “next man up” mentality.

Krug and Mikkola to COVID list

The list of Blues players to hit the COVID list overall this season has grown to five, as Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola joined that list this week. It’s a big hit to the Blues’ defense, and their cap issues are prevalent considering they could be playing shorthanded if another player either gets injured or hits the list.

Torey Krug St. Louis Blues
Torey Krug, St Louis Blues (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blues were likely to call up Scott Perunovich with these new developments, but due to NHL rules, the COVID list players still count against the salary cap. The Blues had to call up Calle Rosen to not go over the cap. This rule makes zero sense, especially when you consider the fact that they are a 100 percent vaccinated team. There should clearly be an incentive with the vaccination status of a team, and this is a big miss by the league and players’ association.

Either way, the Blues are now on a slippery slope with their roster issues when it comes to COVID. They certainly don’t want to play shorthanded this season, especially with injuries to a few key players happening.

Schenn Exits Road Trip with Upper Body Injury

Brayden Schenn crashed into the boards hard in the Blues’ 1-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 30 and sustained an injury then. He tried to play through the injury but re-aggravated it in under seven minutes on the ice against the San Jose Sharks.

He left the road trip to be reevaluated in St. Louis, there seems to be hope that this isn’t a long-term issue for Schenn, but either way the Blues get thinner at the center position. Tyler Bozak has certainly stepped up and played well in this absence, but it’s never ideal to lose one of your best forwards.

Brayden Schenn St. Louis Blues
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Schenn has been solid with six points in nine games, and the Blues can use him in a variety of ways, so this could be a huge loss if he’s out for extended time. Blues’ general manager Doug Armstrong expects an update on him when the team returns from their current road trip on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Hofer Tallies First NHL Win

With Ville Husso hitting the COVID list last week, 21-year-old Joel Hofer stepped in on the second game of a back-to-back and beat the Sharks. His numbers weren’t the prettiest, but he got the job done and helped to weather a shorthanded storm in the opening minutes of the first period when the Blues took three penalties.

He saved 23 of 26 shots, including one goal in each phase of the game. He allowed one even-strength goal, one power-play goal, and one shorthanded goal, which is a weirdly impressive accomplishment. He also shut down the Sharks in the third period, which really helped a battered Blues team.

Related: St. Louis Blues’ Robert Thomas Quietly Breaking Out

I don’t know if we’ll see Hofer with the Blues again this season, but he played well in his first career start. On top of the win he got, he also tallied an assist on the Robert Thomas empty-net goal. There is certainly hope that he can continue his track in development to become a great netminder for this team.

Saad Has Been Elite in His Return

Brandon Saad missed four games when he was on the COVID list, he made his return on Wednesday, Nov. 3 against the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t hit the scoresheet in that game, but had five shots and got his legs back under him.

He followed that game up with two goals in a win over the Sharks, one being at even strength and the other one was shorthanded. He scored 13 seconds into the club’s 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, Nov. 7, getting his total up to four goals in six games. I think he’s going to continue this stellar play, especially if he continues to play with David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly – that line really pops.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: at Winnipeg Jets, 7 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Nashville Predators, 7 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 6:30 PM
  • Sunday: vs. Edmonton Oilers, 6 PM

As I listed above, the Blues schedule this week is going to be a fun one. They’ll play two of the best teams in the league along with two other rivals. This is also a big week for them to keep their record in a good spot, especially given the issues with the roster right now.

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