Blues Weekly: Playoffs Clinched, Krug, Tarasenko’s Future & More

In what was possibly the most important week of the season for the St. Louis Blues, they continued their win streak with a 4-0-0 record against three playoff teams. They have now won nine straight games and have a record of 46-20-10 for 102 points.

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

The Blues beat two division rivals last week, the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators, and they are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games against the former. They haven’t lost in regulation to the Wild since late into the 2020-21 season when they played them a total of eight times.

The Blues also beat the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres last week, capping off a 2-0-0 season against the Sabres and a chance to do the same to the Bruins in the coming week. To put it simply, the Blues are playing their best hockey of the season at the right time.

Blues Clinch Fourth-Straight Playoff Berth

After beating the Wild and sweeping the regular-season series against them, the Blues clinched a fourth-straight berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite back-to-back first-round exits, confidence in their ability in the playoffs should not waiver. This is quite easily the best offensive team that St. Louis has had in a long time, even as the NHL shifts to a more defensive style in the playoffs, there are goals to be had for this squad.

Since general manager Doug Armstrong took the reigns of the team for the 2010-11 season, the Blues have made it to the playoffs 10 times and advanced past the first round in five of those trips. They have been one of the most consistent clubs in the league for their entire life, appearing in 44 of 54 possible playoffs. The Blues have completely shifted in a great way since head coach Craig Berube took the team over, as he’s done a fantastic job leading them to playoff appearances in all four seasons he’s been behind the bench.

Krug Makes Triumphant Return to Boston

The Blues needed Torey Krug back in the fold and they got him back at the perfect time. He returned in a game at his old stomping grounds at TD Garden against the Bruins. The Blues won that game 4-2 and Krug had a goal and an assist in limited ice time.

Torey Krug St. Louis Blues
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images)

Krug spent seven full seasons with the Bruins, and he scored over 40 points in five of those before signing as a free agent with the Blues after the 2019-20 season. He was an elite power-play quarterback with the Bruins, and it took him a little bit to feel comfortable doing that same thing in St. Louis, but he’s been terrific this season.

In 61 games this season, Krug has nine goals and 31 assists for 40 points with an elite plus/minus of plus-24. Barring a major change, he is cruising to a career-high in the plus/minus column, and a lot of that has been playing with Justin Faulk. Those two have been the best and most consistent pairing Berube has put together, as they both bring an explosive offensive game and calming defensive presence to the ice. Either way, it’s clear that Krug has been better and more comfortable this season as a Blue.

The Buchnevich-Thomas-Tarasenko Line is Unfair

The line of Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas, and Vladimir Tarasenko is emerging as one of the best in the NHL. They have been dominating every game for a month or more now, as it’s been one of the most dynamic lines that the Blues have had since the days of Brett Hull and Adam Oates.

Thomas is riding a 13-game point streak, Tarasenko is on a six-game point streak with eight goals and seven assists in those games, and Buchnevich has a 10-game point streak going as well. They’ve been all over the place when they’re on the ice, and they are a handful for opposing teams to handle. It’s been a long time since the Blues have had a dominating force of a line that intimidates other teams.

Related: Blues Have 2-Year Window for Another Stanley Cup

Buchnevich never had a 50-point campaign in six seasons with the New York Rangers, but now he has 69 points in 67 games and counting as his brilliance has continued all season long. Thomas is an elite player and is breaking out into a superstar before our eyes, he’s got 55 assists in 66 games, which is more assists than he had points in any season before this one. This line should never be broken apart, and I think Berube knows not to do that now.

Blues Should Not Trade Tarasenko in the Summer

Despite his request for a trade last summer, Armstrong held his ground and didn’t accept any offers that he determined to be under his asking price for Tarasenko. That patience and trust has paid off for both parties, as he now has a career-high in points with his 33 goals and 43 assists for 76 points.

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He’s been good all season, but the month of April has been unbelievable for Tarasenko, who has looked as good as ever in his NHL career. He owes some of that to his linemates as well, as he plays with two high-level passers. I’ll put it simply, the Blues should not trade Tarasenko under any circumstances this summer, even if his value is off the charts.

He’s an essential goal-scorer for a team that has incredible depth when it comes to offense, as they have a total of seven 20-goal scorers this season. That depth doesn’t matter to me here though, as Tarasenko is the best at scoring goals and the Blues must capitalize on his chemistry with Thomas and Buchnevich who will be here long-term.

Leddy and Toropchenko are Both Injured

It’s unfortunate to see the Blues without Nick Leddy and Alexei Toropchenko, as they are both injured and missed the win over the Predators. For Leddy, he was off to a solid start as a Blue since the trade from the Detroit Red Wings, but he was clipped near his eye against the Wild and left the game. He’s said to be feeling better but is still struggling with his vision, as I’m sure his eye area swelled up in some way after that nasty cut. It seems likely that Leddy will return for the end of the season or the playoffs, but they clearly need him as he fits this team well.

As for Toropchenko, he’s missed two straight games after playing in the club’s win over the Sabres. He hasn’t been overly productive offensively, but his value to the fourth line is high with his net-front presence and skating ability. The Blues haven’t disclosed much on him, but Dakota Joshua has started in his spot in the two games he missed. They could use both of these guys plus Tyler Bozak back if they make a playoff run, as these three are essential in their small yet essential roles.

Kyrou Gets Wake Up Call from Berube

Despite his All-Star campaign, Jordan Kyrou’s play has slipped in the last month and he received a wake-up call from Berube after being moved to the fourth line in the win over the Wild. He had just three points over a seven-game stretch before his two-goal performance against the Predators. He had two illnesses and injuries that likely caused some of his on-ice struggles, but the wake-up call was certainly needed to get him going.

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

He moved back up to the third line with Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev for the matchup with Nashville, and those three produced four goals and two assists. He ended up fitting well on that line and the two-goal performance should get some of his confidence back for the continuing stretch run into the playoffs.

Either way, this should be common knowledge, but the Blues are a far more dangerous team when Kyrou is playing with confidence. He was an All-Star for a reason and even with his struggles, he has 67 points in 68 games. He’s still having a breakout season and excitement for the future with him and Thomas on the roster is off the charts in St. Louis.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: vs. Boston Bruins, 7 PM
  • Thursday: at San Jose Sharks, 9:30 PM
  • Saturday: at Arizona Coyotes, 9 PM
  • Sunday: at Anaheim Ducks, 7:30 PM

With a total of six games left in the regular season, the Blues will take care of four of them this week. After a showdown with the Bruins, they’ll face off against three non-playoff teams that possess plenty of young talent. Either way, none of these games will be easy as the Blues look to ride their hot streak into the playoffs.

Sign up for our regular 'Blues Newsletter' for all the latest.