This week did more to prove that the NHL’s decision to get an expansion team in Las Vegas was a tremendous decision. The atmosphere was terrific and showed that Las Vegas is becoming a major sports city.
The Blues return to action this week and will continue their fight amongst the top of the Central Division, with multiple teams in contention for a playoff spot.
Kyrou Shows Out at All-Star Weekend
What a weekend it was for 23-year-old Jordan Kyrou at the All-Star festivities. It started when he defeated Connor McDavid, Adrian Kempe, and others in the fastest skater competition. McDavid had won it three times prior to this one, and he is known as the fastest and most dynamic player in the league.
The win at the fastest skater competition was one of a few things that put him on the map of the entire league in Vegas. He is no longer just a star in St. Louis, the entire league is getting to know Kyrou now, and that’s a major development in his career.
What a season it has been for Kyrou, from setting Winter Classic records, leading the Blues in scoring, and his big weekend in Vegas, it’s truly been a complete breakout campaign for him. I doubted the notion that Kyrou would break out this season, and clearly, I was wrong, he’s done more than that too.
He followed up his fastest skater title with a five-point performance in the two All-Star games he played in. He scored two goals and three assists, which may have won him the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player if the Central won the title.
This sets up for a major second half for Kyrou, who already has 42 points in 40 games. He could become the first Blue to record over 80 points in a season since the late great Pavol Demitra, who had 93 points in the 2002-03 season. The last player that was close to that number was Ryan O’Reilly with 77 points in 2018-19.
Getting Ready for the Second Half
The Blues head into the second half with a 26-13-5 record, totaling 57 points, and are in the first wild card spot for the playoffs. They likely won’t catch the Colorado Avalanche, and it seems as if the Minnesota Wild’s pace will keep them ahead of the Blues, so the Nashville Predators are the main competition for third place in the division.
This is an important month for the Blues, they play just eight games, with seven of them being against non-playoff teams as of the current standings. They can rack up points before they head into the month of March, where their schedule becomes much more difficult.
The Blues need to make defensive adjustments to have more success, whether it’s lineup or structure changes, they have to be made. It would be wise to get Scott Perunovich back in the lineup, and then decide between Marco Scandella or Robert Bortuzzo.
The other storyline for the Blues is obviously the goaltending, and until there are improvements made, I believe Ville Husso will get more starts than Jordan Binnington. That could change in a hurry since it’s such a volatile position, but Husso has been better to this point.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 PM
- Saturday: vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7 PM
This will be the first matchup for the Blues against the New Jersey Devils since March 2020, when the Devils defeated them 4-2. Prior to that matchup, the Blues had won 12 straight against them and 15 of their last 16. It’s been a one-sided matchup, and the Blues hope to continue that this week.
Their other matchup is a rivalry Saturday night showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks, the third matchup of the season between the two. The Blues won the first game and blew a lead to lose the second one in overtime. Prior to that loss in November, the Blues had won five straight against the Blackhawks.
Either way, the Blues have had better seasons than both of their opponents this week, but that doesn’t matter. They must show up and take care of their business as the second half gets underway.