The St. Louis Blues capped off another inconsistent week with a record of 2-1-1, with both wins coming in their first and last games of the week. Their schedule only gets tougher from here, and becomes incredibly difficult when the month of December begins.
The Blues continue to get hit by injuries and other issues, but they are built to overcome adversity. They are struggling to be consistent, but they remain in a playoff spot with their 11-7-3 record, good for second in the division.
Blues Struggling to Find Consistency
Inconsistent is the easiest term to use when it comes to describing this team, they haven’t won back-to-back games since their five-game win streak to start the season. The lack of continuity within their lineup is a definite factor, as many players have gone on the COVID list or gotten injured.
Players like Torey Krug, Ryan O’Reilly, Brandon Saad, and others have all missed multiple games with COVID, while Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist missed games due to injury. It’s hard to formulate line chemistry and team play with the number of player changes in the lineup.
Only eight players have played all 21 games for the Blues, with just three of those being defensemen. There has been a total of nine defensemen to appear in a game for the Blues this season, and a total of 16 forwards. The lack of continuity is based on those numbers, there isn’t much chemistry and that has shown up on the back-end especially, they’ve left their goaltenders hanging on many occasions.
Injuries Piling Up Again
Two more forwards have gone down for the Blues, and both of them are fourth-line wingers, James Neal and Klim Kostin are on long-term injured reserve and must miss 10 games and 24 days. Kostin and Neal were solid contributing wingers but had their individual struggles leading up to their injuries.
With those injuries, the Blues called Dakota Joshua and Logan Brown up to the team. I assume that both of them will eventually be in the lineup, as Joshua already has been.
Joshua has already played seven games this season and made his re-appearance in their win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to finish last week. For Brown, he is a native of St. Louis who was traded here in September for Zach Sanford. In 19 games in the American Hockey League (AHL), he had 17 points, helping lead the Springfield Thunderbirds to their elite start.
Brown still has potential, he was a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft and played 30 games with the Ottawa Senators. All of the games that Brown has played in the NHL have been with rebuilding Senators teams. This is a chance for him to play with a team that is a “contender,” which can help him feel more comfortable to play with.
Faulk Nets Career Goal No. 100
Justin Faulk continues to be a gamer on the back-end for the Blues, unquestionably being the best defenseman on the team this season. He scored 85 of his career goals with the Carolina Hurricanes, but he gets the big 100th goal as a member of the Blues, it came on a breakaway against the Vegas Golden Knights.
He scored his first career goal in the 2011-12 season, as a 19-year-old. He scored that goal against the Winnipeg Jets on former Blues goaltender Chirs Mason. The 100th goal was scored on Robin Lehner, a couple of formidable goaltenders give up the two big milestones for Faulk. It’s been incredible to see the growth from Faulk as a Blue, he’s been fantastic since a tough first season in St. Louis.
Berube Will Not Be Fired
There has been a lot of online chatter in regards to the job status of Blues head coach Craig Berube, and I’m here to say that he will be the coach of the team for the rest of this season. Despite a few rough stretches this season, they remain near the top of their division and have dealt with lots of adversity.
The notion that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has built a roster that doesn’t fully fit Berube’s physical style is true and it does beg the idea that they could move on when his contract expires after this season. I would be shocked if he were fired and I think it would take an incredibly bad nosedive for it to happen.
Say what you will about his coaching style, but he is 118-65-28 with a point percentage of .626. They’ve struggled in the playoffs since their Stanley Cup run in 2019, but there are reasons for that. They played poorly in the unprecedented 2020 playoff bubble in a loss to the Vancouver Canucks and were completely overmatched by the Colorado Avalanche to end last season.
I’ll just say it again, there is currently a zero percent chance that the Blues fire their head coach. Things could get worse, then you can have that conversation, but Berube has earned the right for a long leash.
Springfield Thunderbirds are 14-3-2
The Blues’ AHL affiliate Springfield Thunderbirds are having a tremendous season. They lead the entire league with 30 points and are one of four teams with a winning percentage above .750. Even after losing Scott Perunovich and others to the NHL club, they’ve remained hot.
Among standouts for the Thunderbirds are Matthew Peca, Hugh McGing, Nathan Walker, and Sam Anas, who all have twelve or more points. Goaltenders Charlie Lindgren and Joel Hofer have been fantastic with solid save percentages (SV%) and a combined SV% of .918. The Thunderbirds should be fun to watch as they continue to ride a wave of elite play.
The Week Ahead
- Tuesday: vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 PM
- Thursday: at Tampa Bay Lightning, 6 PM
- Saturday: at Florida Panthers, 12 PM
In terms of quality competition, this is the toughest week of the season for the Blues. They will play three of four straight games with the Florida NHL teams, who are both very good. The Lightning are 12-5-3 while the Panthers are 14-4-3. The Blues must be ready to play well and they will need to get some points in an extremely difficult week of games.
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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.