Blues Weekly: Reinforcements, Lineup Changes, Kyrou & More

The St. Louis Blues just capped off another mediocre week, this time they went 1-2-0 and their record sits at 9-6-2 heading into a big four-game week. The team continues to struggle, as it has just two wins in its last seven games.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Ryan O'Reilly David Perron

The Blues currently sit at third place in their division, but despite their cold streak they are in a solid position in the conference. Once they are fully healthy, I believe that they will be fine, but there are legitimate concerns with this team right now.

Sundqvist and Krug Return to the Lineup

The long-awaited return of Oskar Sundqvist happened in the Blues’ first game of the week with the Arizona Coyotes, and even though they lost it was great to see a fan-favorite return. They also got a boost to the back-end with Torey Krug returning from his COVID absence.

Related: Blues Add Major Reinforcements in Sundqvist, Perunovich

Sundqvist has been solid, with one point in three games. It helped that he was moved onto a line with Brandon Saad and Ivan Barbashev after the loss to Arizona. Those three fit well together and have been labeled as an identity line for this team.

As far as Krug goes, he has a goal and an assist in three games of his return. He’s played with Justin Faulk and they’ve been mostly solid, the only semblance of consistency on the back-end is with these two. Although, Krug and Colton Parayko have been solid as well with small sample size.

Schenn Close to Returning

Brayden Schenn has missed the last eight games, and has been out for over two weeks with his upper-body injury. The Blues top-nine center had six points in nine games before his injury and would fit in well with the current mix.

Brayden Schenn St. Louis Blues
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Schenn has been skating for multiple days now, indicating that he is close to returning. I’d be a bit surprised if he didn’t return in one of their four games in the upcoming week.

I’d assume that the Blues will put Schenn alongside James Neal and Tyler Bozak, as they likely don’t want to break up any of the other three lines. It’s been all but confirmed that Klim Kostin will be scratched in Schenn’s first game back.

Blues Finally Call Perunovich Up

The Blues finally called up the most dominant player in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. Scott Perunovich made his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Coyotes, and he has looked calm, cool, and collected in his first three games, making the right choice with the puck almost every time. He got his first NHL point on a goal from Robert Thomas against the San Jose Sharks.

He’s been playing alongside Faulk for the last couple of games, and that duo has loads of potential. Perunovich is also a key cog on the second power-play unit, which has been arguably better than the first unit this season. Everybody has seen the high-end skill from Perunovich and he’s just getting started in the NHL.

Husso Up, Hofer Down

After two starts, the Blues sent Joel Hofer back to the AHL, this while reactivating Ville Husso from the COVID list. Husso has had a tremendous start to the season — he already had a shutout and in his return — and he saved 26 of 27 shots in a win. He now has 60 saves on 61 shots in two starts, amounting to a save percentage (SV%) of .984.

There could be a goaltending controversy, fair or not, with the way that Husso has played. He needs to play well in more than two starts, but it is safe to say that he’ll be getting more playing time after these starts he has had. I expect we see some more continuity in net for the Blues if both him and Jordan Binnington can stay healthy.

Lineup Changes Don’t Alter Results

The Blues shifted line combinations, getting Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron back together, but it didn’t help much. I like these line combinations, but they didn’t do anything for them in their loss to the Dallas Stars. They seem to be getting more shots on goal, but not the quality shots they’d like. We saw a loss of continuity with O’Reilly out of the lineup and they haven’t gained it back yet.

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

The most exciting line for the Blues is led by Thomas, and his wingers are Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko. This line is not only able to make plays and score goals, but their defensive responsibility is stout as well. The identity line of Saad, Sundqvist, and Barbashev helps to set the tone, with the two-way ability and goal-scoring touch. Saad now has seven goals in the 13 games he’s appeared in.

Bozak has been solid as the center of the fourth line, with inconsistency shown by Kostin and Neal. As I mentioned above, we’ll likely see Schenn in and Kostin out soon. Either way, the Blues should give it more time with this shakeup, it could pay dividends soon.

Kyrou Continues to Impress

The breakout season of Jordan Kyrou rolls on, he’s blossoming into a young star for the Blues. He now has 18 points in 17 games, eight of them being goals. He has points in 12 games, including four multi-point games. The future is bright for the Blues, with 23-year-old Kyrou leading them in scoring and 22-year-old Thomas right behind him.

Kyrou is only going to get better and create more scoring chances alongside the solid veterans, O’Reilly and Perron. I was wrong about the idea that Kyrou may follow Thomas in disappointing seasons when the expectations rose. He has lived up to the hype and more.

The Week Ahead

  • Monday: vs. Vegas Golden Knights, 7 PM
  • Wednesday: at Detroit Red Wings, 6:30 PM
  • Friday: at Chicago Blackhawks, 2:30 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 PM

Despite their struggles, the Blues remain the third place in the Central Division, with 20 points. They are two points behind the Winnipeg Jets and three behind the Minnesota Wild. The Blues have a better record than three of the four teams they will play, but that doesn’t mean anything when you think about the Coyotes game from this past week. The Blues must figure out their style and find a way to put wins on the board.

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