Blues Weekly: Successful Road Trip, Kyrou, World Juniors, & More

The St. Louis Blues wrapped up their road trip on the night before Christmas Eve. Overall, the road trip was a success despite a tough ending. They kept themselves afloat in terms of the playoff picture, even though it’s only December.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

The Blues have clear flaws and inconsistencies this season, but they could still find their way into the playoffs. They have a lot of veterans and a couple of young stars. Finding a balance between scoring and defending is the biggest challenge they face this season. They are 27th in the NHL in goals against, while 22nd in goals for. However, they’re scoring more goals now than they have all season with 36 goals in their last 10 games played.

The Blues are still in a position to sell rentals at the deadline, such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. But I’m starting to have doubts about that happening as the Western Conference remains weak. The Blues are five points out of a playoff spot and 21st in points in the NHL.

Blues Finish Western Road Trip

The Blues captured seven of 10 points on their West Coast road trip. They went 3-1-1 with losses to the Seattle Kraken and Vegas Golden Knights this week. In the Western Canada part of the trip, the Blues went 3-0-0. They started the week with a dominant win on the road against the Vancouver Canucks. After a scoreless first period, both teams found the back of the net in the second period. The Blues opened the scoring with red-hot Jordan Kyrou tallying his 14th goal. After the Canucks tied it, the Blues responded again with two consecutive goals from Nathan Walker and Robert Thomas on the power play. The third period was the Kyrou show, he scored two more goals and his first career hat trick to lead the Blues to a 5-1 victory.

After the dominant win over the Canucks, the Blues were gassed. They got completely outworked and outplayed by the Kraken. The final score was 5-2, but it wasn’t even that close. They went down 4-0 before scoring a couple of goals, but then they allowed an empty netter as they typically do when they pull the goalie. It’s safe to say that the Blues are the worst team in the NHL at pulling the goalie. It almost always ends up in an empty netter for the opponent. They rebounded with a better performance against the Golden Knights, but they only got one point. Jordan Binnington allowed four goals, but he was excellent in this game. He kept them in it until he couldn’t as Vegas scored a late goal to send it to overtime.

The Blues probably should’ve gone 4-1-0 on the road trip, but 3-1-1 is still solid. Their schedule over the next few weeks is hit-and-miss with plenty of winnable games on the docket. They needed to play well throughout this road trip to stay afloat and they did so. The biggest takeaway from this trip was the brilliance of Kyrou and other goal scorers coming alive. However, the trip didn’t end well for Kyrou and that showed in the last two games for the Blues.

Kyrou Remains Out With Upper-Body Injury

Late in the game against the Canucks, Kyrou took an unnecessary but clean hit from defenseman Kyle Burroughs. This clearly rattled him and kept him out for the final two games of the trip. The injury is brutal timing for him as he was red hot before going down.

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the three games he played in on the road trip, he had six goals and three assists for nine points. He took his game to another level in those games with Robert Thomas as his center. Those two playing together show that the future of the franchise is in a good spot with them as faces. I’m not sure when Kyrou will return, but the Blues need him back more than anything right now. Ideally, he will be 100 percent and back to normal when he returns to the ice.

Blues’ Representatives at the 2023 World Juniors

The 2023 World Junior Championship (WJC) are underway in Canada. The Blues have three representatives this season across three different countries. They join nine other teams that have three players in their system participating. This will be a good tournament for Blues fans to see some of what they are getting with these prospects.

Related: Snuggerud, Robertsson Represent Blues at 2023 WJC

The most notable prospect for the Blues at the 2023 WJC is Jimmy Snuggerud (United States). The Blues drafted him in the 2022 Draft with the 23rd-overall pick. He’s been excellent at the University of Minnesota this season. He has 12 goals and 27 points in 20 games, and he and Arizona Coyotes first-round pick Logan Cooley have been dominant. Snuggerud will be a big part of this United States team, as they look to win their sixth title. They’ve gotten to the championship in two of the last four tournaments, and they defeated Canada to win it in 2021.

Outside of Snuggerud, the Blues have prospects Simon Robertsson (Sweden) and Aleksanteri Kaskimaki (Finland) participating. Robertsson was the Blues’ third-round selection with the 71st pick in the 2021 Draft. He was viewed as a possible steal in the third round, and he’s developing nicely. He had five goals in 48 games last season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He’s already got five goals in 15 games this season for his Skelleftea AIK club. For Kaskimaki, he was the Blues’ 73rd-overall pick in the 2022 Draft. He’s still a ways away from being an option for the Blues at the American Hockey League (AHL) level, but he should get some good experience at the 2023 WJC.

Blues’ Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-7-6, 48 points), 7 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8-20-4, 20 points), 7 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Minnesota Wild (19-12-2, 40 points), 5 PM

The Blues will play two playoff-level opponents and a bad Chicago Blackhawks team this week. They’ve played the Blackhawks once and beat them, 5-2. They’ve struggled in recent seasons against the Toronto Maple Leafs with two straight home losses to them. The last time the Blues saw the Minnesota Wild was their Game 6 beating of them in round one of the 2022 Playoffs. This will be an interesting week for the Blues as they return to the Enterprise Center.