The St. Louis Blues went 3-0-0 this week, they continue to rack up points. They remain in second place in the Central Division, posting a 25-11-5 record, with a total of 55 points, trailing the Colorado Avalanche by four points.
They will once again play three games this week, all against Western Conference opponents to wrap up a Canadian trip and then two games at home.
Barbashev Sets Career High in Goals
It’s been a fabulous season for Ivan Barbashev, as he has set a career-high with 15 goals in 40 games. He had 14 goals in 80 games during the 2018-19 season, so he has clearly had a huge season, and the Blues have needed this firepower from him.
He now has a career-high in goals, assists, and points. A considerable part of this has been his chemistry with every one of his linemates. Whether it’s Vladimir Tarasenko or Pavel Buchnevich, Barbashev has been able to produce and make plays in every game.
Buchnevich Returns in Seattle with a Twist
It’s been a wacky first season for Buchnevich in St. Louis after his trade here from the New York Rangers. From an early-season suspension to testing positive for COVID-19 with weird ramifications taking place. He returned when the Blues went on the road to face the Seattle Kraken after testing out protocol within five days.
Due to the COVID-19 policies in Canada, Buchnevich was unable to play against the Vancouver Canucks since it was his 10th day after testing positive. But he will be able to play at the Calgary Flames tonight since it will be the 11th day since a positive test, which certainly makes this an odd situation.
Buchnevich has produced on the ice even with his adversity this season, he has 36 points in 35 games and has been a dynamic two-way forward. This was a great acquisition by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, and it furthers his brilliance in trading, especially over the last few seasons.
Parayko Makes History with Penalty Shot
In the Blues’ 5-0 victory over the Kraken, Colton Parayko made some franchise history. He drew a penalty shot after being tied up with Alexander Wennberg, it was the first penalty shot by a defenseman in Blues history since Rob Ramage on Feb. 3, 1985. The Blues won that game over the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4, but Ramage didn’t convert on the penalty shot.
Parayko was able to score on his penalty shot as he put it over the blocker of Joey Daccord. He became the first defenseman in Blues history to convert on a penalty shot and maybe one of the most unlikely of the current group to do so. Accuracy hasn’t exactly been the calling card of Parayko’s lethal shot.
The last player to score on a penalty shot for the Blues before Parayko was TJ Oshie on Jonathan Quick during the 2013-14 season. Since then, there have been five attempts by Blues’ players, all of those were unsuccessful until Parayko got the job done.
Husso Starts All Three Games This Week
The goalie controversy story is picking up steam for the Blues this week as Jordan Binnington saw zero ice time in all three games played. It’s not surprising that this is picking up steam, it’s hard to ignore the gap in play between Ville Husso and Binnington right now, all of that has been pointed out.
Head coach Craig Berube was clearly paying attention to these things with his choices last week. The idea of riding the hot hand is a smart thing to do for a team that is contending, and I don’t blame him for that one bit.
Binnington has a save percentage (SV%) of .906 across 22 starts, including 16 goals given up in his last four starts. This is not to say that it all lands at the feet of him because the defense in front of him has struggled a lot. But it seems important to note that every other goaltender that has played in the other 19 games has had much more success.
The turnaround for Husso from last season to this season has been remarkable. He struggled mightily last season with a .893 SV% in 15 starts. In 12 starts this season, he has a .941 SV%, and his analytic numbers have been incredible as well. He ranks in the top 15 of the entire league in goals saved above average (GSAA), which is determined by a goaltender’s SV% given his shots against versus the league average in the same circumstances. He has won five straight starts, his last loss was in early December in a shootout to the Florida Panthers, he saved 48 shots in that game.
A goaltender competition could be a good thing for this team, as it should push both goaltenders to be better. We haven’t seen any goaltender push Binnington as Husso has, and it seems like Binnington could thrive under that type of pressure.
The Week Ahead
- Monday: at Calgary Flames, 8 PM
- Thursday: vs. Calgary Flames, 7 PM
- Saturday: vs. Winnipeg Jets, 2 PM
The Blues will face some of the middle-tier teams in the conference this week, which is no knock on either of them, they’re both formidable foes. They have not played the Flames since before the COVID-19 pandemic and are 1-1-0 against the Jets this season. It should be another fun week of hockey with lots to discuss in the world of the Blues and NHL.
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.