The St. Louis Blues finished off a road trip with three of four games last week and it didn’t go well. They finished 0-2-1 in this stretch after beginning it with a win against the Chicago Blackhawks. They lost in regulation to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, with an overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils to cap it all off.
The Blues lost two more games to inferior competition (based on their record) in the Islanders and Devils, but there is much more to it than that. However, a more even matchup with the Rangers saw them score three goals to take a 3-2 lead in the second period, but ultimately lost 5-3 after a slow third period. They are now 32-16-7 with 71 points and remain in second place in the Central Division, for now. The schedule will still be intense for the rest of the month, and they may have missed an opportunity with these last two losses.
Husso Possibly Coming Back Down to Earth
Ville Husso certainly had struggles in their loss to the Rangers, but he played quite well in the overtime loss to the Devils, so it’s probably not fair to say this just yet. The defensive play of the forwards and defensemen certainly let him down in these games as they are back to struggling with defensive lapses after a stretch when it wasn’t much of an issue.
Husso had a stretch of nine games from the beginning of January to the middle of February where he was 8-1-0 with a save percentage (SV%) of .950. Since then, he has given up three or more goals in five games, which isn’t awful. The Blues have a record of 2-1-2 in his last five starts, which is something that he can’t be blamed for.
Related: Blues’ Goaltending Future is Bright
On the season, Husso’s numbers are still fantastic, as he boasts a 13-4-3 record with a SV% of .930. While some may think he’s coming back down to earth, I believe he is just evening out, his numbers were almost too good to be true for a while there. It’s the definition of being an NHL goaltender, consistency is just hard to come by and this season has shown him exceeding expectations.
Slow Starts Were the Theme of Last Week
In their three games last week, the Blues were outscored 3-0 in the first period, meaning that is 60 minutes without a goal in the first period for them. Last week, they scored a total of zero first-period goals, three second-period goals, and three third-period goals. Six goals in three games may not seem bad, but when they give up 10 goals in that stretch, it doesn’t matter much.
Head coach Craig Berube summed up the New York and New Jersey trip quite well, they had too many big stretches of minutes with nothing happening. One thing that the Islanders and Devils did was take away the middle of the ice for the Blues, preventing them from manufacturing high-quality scoring chances. If the Blues can’t figure out how to execute better with the puck, then they have serious issues ahead.
Last week also saw some defensemen have major struggles, specifically Niko Mikkola, who took three penalties in two games. I think Mikkola will be fine, but there is still a major issue for the Blues as they still need to add to their defense. Their defensive unit could get a bit better if they are able to throw Scott Perunovich into the mix for either Jake Walman or Robert Bortuzzo when he is healthy.
The final issue to raise is the lack of shooting and then shots being blocked when they do shoot it. The Blues’ forward group is built of players who are possibly too unselfish. The majority of them are looking to pass rather than shoot, and it becomes a glaring issue when they are consistently not scoring.
The Blues had 23 shots blocked by the Rangers, 24 by the Islanders, and eight by the Devils. Those three teams definitely defended the Blues well, so this isn’t a total indictment on the team. But the hope is that this doesn’t become a major issue moving forward.
Kyrou Scores 100th Career Point
What a breakout season it has been for Jordan Kyrou, as he tallied a goal and an assist on Sunday in their loss to the Devils. The goal that he scored was the 100th point of his career and he accomplished the milestone in only 150 games. He’s become a star right before our eyes, being an All-Star and continuing his dream season.
Kyrou now has eight more goals than last season and 10 more assists, doing so in four fewer games. He’s moved around multiple lines with different centers, whether it’s Ryan O’Reilly, Robert Thomas, or Brayden Schenn, he helps to drive the offense for this team. The Kyrou draft pick can be added to the list of tremendous post-first round picks by general manager Doug Armstrong, as he nabbed him with the 35th pick in the 2016 Entry Draft.
The future of the Blues should be built around Kyrou, and the best part is that he has many areas to grow in his game. With the proper coaching and continuous development, he could become an absolute force for this team. I believe there is a potential 100-point season in the future or at least a 40-plus goal season. The breakout will only continue for him, this season has proven that.
The Week Ahead
- Tuesday: vs. Ottawa Senators, 7 PM
- Thursday: vs. New York Rangers, 7 PM
- Saturday: at Nashville Predators, 11:30 AM
- Sunday: vs. Winnipeg Jets, 6 PM
It’s going to be a busy week as the Blues try to get another winning streak going as they lost three straight last week, which was following a four-game win streak prior to that. They’ll face the Senators for the second time in a month, a team that they beat 5-2 on their home ice. They’ll rematch with the Rangers for the second game in eight days, hopefully, this one is just as electrifying as the first, with a different result.
The Blues will have a tough divisional back-to-back to finish the week, with a road game against the Predators and a home game with the Jets. They are 1-0-1 against the Predators and 1-2-0 against the Jets, so no matter the record of the team, they have to show up and play well. They’re battling for positioning with the Predators in the playoff picture, while the Jets have had their struggles, none of that matters. The Blues must regroup and show us that they have the chops to get up off the ground and get some wins back down the stretch.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.