The St. Louis Blues became the final team to open up their 2022-23 season in the NHL.
With the odd scheduling, the Blues will play just two games in eight days of the season truly beginning in North America. I’ll exclude the Prague games from that as they were four days before everybody else started their season.
Blues Beat Blue Jackets 5-2 in Season Opener
The Blues began their season on Saturday night at the Enterprise Center with a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blues came out firing with a lot of energy, scoring an early power-play goal from Torey Krug to Pavel Buchnevich. This pass by Krug was top-notch, a no-look feed to a wide-open Buchnevich. It’s no surprise that the Blues’ power play got the team going early, they will likely have another elite unit this season after finishing second last season. Despite the fast start, they were outshot 6-4 in the first period, but they held a 1-0 lead.
The second period was interesting, to say the least. The Blues got the next goal on a wrist shot from Vladimir Tarasenko, he was somehow wide open in the circle and had plenty of time to shoot. After getting the 2-0 lead, they seemingly fell asleep, allowing the Blue Jackets to take the game over and score two quick goals. The second period was not a good one for the Blues, despite a late push to even up the shots at 13 each for the period. With the Blue Jackets being on a back-to-back, the Blues were able to regain their control of the game and they dominated the third period.
They only outshot the Blue Jackets 8-6 in the final period, but they scored three goals to put the game away. The game-winner that made it 3-2 was a fantastic passing play from Buchnevich to Brayden Schenn to Ivan Barbashev for the finish. The second goal of the period was a beautiful play by Jake Neighbours, stickhandling through the slot into a backhand finish. This game was a solid showing from Neighbours, he fits perfectly on the third line with Schenn and Barbashev, they were one of the more noticeable lines in this game.
The final goal was an effortless play by Tarasenko, beating Johnny Gaudreau one on one after a turnover. So, the Blues win the opener 5-2 and they get 23 saves on 25 shots from Jordan Binnington. Other notable stats include doubling up the Blue Jackets in hits 28-14, as well as going 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. This was a good start to the season despite a lackluster second period.
Inaugural Blues Hall of Fame Class Announced
It was announced a few weeks ago that the Blues would introduce a Hall of Fame to better recognize their history and people that have passed through. On top of 10 automatic inductees, they had a fan vote that voted four more players into the class. The 10 automatic inductees include the eight retired numbers, as well as legendary broadcaster Dan Kelly and original owners, the Salomons. The committee selected inductions that were a part of the committee’s votes and fan votes are Red Berenson, Scotty Bowman, Glenn Hall, and Garry Unger.
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Berenson played 519 games with the Blues over a career that spanned 17 seasons. He also coached three seasons for the Blues, making the playoffs in two of the three seasons. He was one of the original Blues after being traded to St. Louis by the New York Rangers in the team’s first season ever. Berenson was coached by another inductee, Scotty Bowman. Bowman is obviously a coaching legend, winning nine Stanley Cups and making the playoffs 28 times. He coached his first four seasons with the Blues, leading them to three straight Cup appearances. He resigned in 1970-71 and went to the Montreal Canadiens, where he won five Cups in eight seasons.
Unger played over 1000 games in the NHL, with 662 of them being with the Blues. He was a reliable and consistent player with the Blues during his time with the team. The interesting thing about Unger is that he was traded to the Blues in 1971 by the Detroit Red Wings in a deal that included Berenson, another inductee in this inaugural class. Hall is in the hockey hall of fame after playing over 900 games in net throughout his storied career. He won three Vezina trophies for the league’s best goaltender and won a Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961. He only played four seasons with the Blues and 57 games. He and Jacques Plante put together a quality season in 1968-69 for the Blues, winning a Vezina trophy. Hall was the first Blues player and is simply a legend of the game.
Brown Is Injured, Pitlick Is Back
Despite making the roster for the Blues in 2022-23, Logan Brown hasn’t suited up yet due to an upper-body injury. His recovery has been slower than expected, meaning that he could soon end up on injured reserve with Tyler Pitlick returning. Pitlick was on a professional tryout (PTO) during the preseason and performed well. Before an injury, he was likely to make the roster, but he was released from the PTO after the preseason. He is now back and skating with the team and could soon score a one-year deal to play the rest of the season.
Pitlick’s play in the preseason certainly earned him a chance. With the Brown injury, it appears likely that he’ll take that spot for the time being. It remains to be seen whether Pitlick will be in the lineup or not, but he will be an extra with Josh Leivo if he does get a deal. He’s been a journeyman throughout his career, playing for six teams across eight seasons. His most extended stay was with the Edmonton Oilers, where he played three seasons to start his career and 58 games. However, his most playing time came with the Dallas Stars, where he played 127 games from 2017-18 to 2018-19. He could be another valuable bottom-six player for this lineup, this team just has so much useful depth.
As for Brown, he played well in the preseason himself. He was one of the Blues’ best and most reliable players during that stretch. He still has the potential to be in the Blues lineup and produce this season, but this injury and the team’s depth could hold him back. I’m a believer in Brown and I think he should get a chance to play when he is healthy, but I think it’s going to be tough to swing with the depth that they have.
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday: at Seattle Kraken, 9 PM
- Saturday: at Edmonton Oilers, 3 PM
The first road trip of the season for the Blues comes this week with them going out west. They play the Seattle Kraken in their first national television game of the season on TNT. Last season, they went 3-0-0 against the Kraken, outscoring them 11-2 overall. The Kraken are still in the phase of building the team, so the Blues have a severe advantage in this game. The Saturday afternoon game with the Oilers should be a fun one, both teams have high expectations of making the playoffs this season. Either way, hockey is back and so are the Blues, so this should be a fun early-season trip for this squad.
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.