Blues Weekly: Point Streak, O’Reilly, Stanley Cup Playoffs & More

The St. Louis Blues went 0-2-0 to finish the regular season, but those games didn’t turn out to mean much, as the Minnesota Wild won and grabbed home ice for their first-round series.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Ryan O'Reilly David Perron
Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron (The Hockey Writers)

Overall, the Blues finished the season at 49-22-11 with 109 points and were third in the Central Division. They finished the season fourth in goals for and 10th in goals against, which makes this one of their most balanced seasons in franchise history, and in a good way.

Related: 3 Blues’ 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Despite a record of 0-2-0 in the final week of the season, the Blues should head into the playoffs with lots of confidence, as they went 12-2-2 in the month of April.

Point Streak Ends at 16 Games

Since their late March loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blues went on a tear, tallying a 14-0-2 record for a point streak of 16 games. That streak ended when the Blues lost in regulation to the Colorado Avalanche last week, but there were a lot of positive takeaways from this streak.

The Blues scored a mind-boggling 78 goals in those 16 games while only allowing 43. They also collected five wins against playoff teams in that stretch, which means something because they had a rough stretch against some of them before this streak. They also won 52 percent of faceoffs over the 16 games while not even dominating puck possession metrics; the Blues have had a tendency to score goals in an efficient manner under head coach Craig Berube.

Other key numbers from the streak include the Blues’ elite special teams play, where they scored 13 power-play goals, two shorthanded goals, and allowed just one power-play goal against. The final special teams’ numbers for the season were fantastic for the Blues, who finished at 27 percent on the power play for second in the NHL and 84 percent on the penalty kill for fifth in the NHL.

O’Reilly Becomes Ninth 20-Goal Scorer for Blues

The depth scoring for the Blues was off the charts in the regular season, as Ryan O’Reilly blitzed to the finish line with four goals in the final two games to reach 21 for the season. They led the league with nine 20-plus goal scorers, which is the most the league has seen on one team since the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06. The Blues will hope to have a different fate than the 2005-06 Red Wings, who lost in the first round to the Edmonton Oilers.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another impressive offensive mark for the Blues is that all of their top five goal scorers had over 25, and they also got 24 from Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad. This is quite clearly the best offensive team that Berube has had and possibly the best that they’ve ever had under general manager Doug Armstrong.

It’s a complete shift from the Stanley Cup squad of 2019, which was predicated on defense. Both approaches have worked for the Blues in the past, and this is the time to shift to what the league is becoming. The offensive numbers around the NHL were sky-high in the 2021-22 season, and the Blues were a big part of that.

Tarasenko Named Third Star of the Month

What a comeback season this was for Vladimir Tarasenko, who went from numerous shoulder surgeries to a trade request and now a career season. The biggest factor for Tarasenko’s monster season was health, as he finally stayed healthy and played 75 games after only appearing in 34 games over the past two seasons. He’s done all of this to become the Blues nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which recognizes players for their perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

He was named the NHL’s third star of April alongside forward Steven Stamkos and goaltender Mike Smith. Tarasenko became the first Blues player to be a star of the month since he did it himself in Feb. 2019, he was alongside Nikita Kucherov and Patrick Kane for that honor.

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In April, Tarasenko had 11 goals and 13 assists in 16 games, his plus/minus was a plus-9, and he shot an astounding 25 percent on 43 shots. His line with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich went on point streaks for the ages. Tarasenko’s point streak went 10 games, Thomas had his for 17 games, and Buchnevich had a quiet 12-game point streak. That line will be a major factor in the playoffs, and they must continue to be a driver of offense for this team.

Playoff Matchup With the Wild Is Set

While I will be doing a full article to preview this series, the stage is set for the Blues and Wild in the first round of the playoffs. This will be their third playoff series against each other over the last decade. They’ve split those series, with the Wild winning the series 4-2 in 2015 and the Blues winning 4-1 in 2017. The rosters of these two teams have certainly improved and changed a great deal since that last meeting in the playoffs.

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Even with the Blues’ recent dominance of the Wild by record, that should be thrown out the window for this series. These are two highly skilled and evenly matched rosters. But to go back to the head-to-head matchups over the last three seasons for the teams, there’s no secret: the Blues are 12-1-1 against the Wild, and they’re 3-0-0 this season.

The 2021-22 games between them have been close, as the Blues beat them in overtime twice and have scored just four more goals against them. The Wild are alongside the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Kraken, and San Jose Sharks for teams that the Blues went 3-0-0 against. There is a difference, though, as the Blues held a goal differential of nine over the Kraken, seven over the Sharks, and six over the Canucks. These two teams are well-matched on paper and on the ice, it could be the hardest series to predict in the first round, and it will be a joy to watch.

The Week Ahead

  • Monday: at Minnesota Wild (Game 1), 8:30 PM
  • Wednesday: at Minnesota Wild (Game 2), 8:30 PM
  • Friday: vs. Minnesota Wild (Game 3), 8:30 PM
  • Sunday: vs. Minnesota Wild (Game 4), 3:30 PM

The first four games of the series get played in the upcoming week, with three late start times. While the entirety of the series will be available locally for both teams broadcasting networks, it will also be televised nationally in the United States. The first two games of the series will be on ESPN, while Game 3 airs on TNT and Game 4 airs on TBS. This should be one heck of a series to watch, and this is always a great time to be a hockey fan.

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