It was an interesting week for the St. Louis Blues going 3-0-1, but it didn’t exactly feel that great. Gutsy is a great term to describe the bounce-back week for the Blues, as they’ve had their fair share of adversity, but they got points in all four games.
Related: Blues April Prospect Report: Kessel, Peca, and Lyle
They finished off a dominant season series against the Vancouver Canucks, beating them twice this week and going 3-0 against them. They finished the season 10-6-3 against Canadian teams this season, and this trip was a huge part of that.
As of now, the Blues are 38-20-10 overall and sitting in third place in the Central Division, and five points behind the Minnesota Wild. The Blues clearly need to finish second or third in the division to avoid the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs, and they remain on pace to do so.
Tarasenko Tallies 500th Career Point
What a rollercoaster of three years it has been for Vladimir Tarasenko since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2019. He’s had two shoulder surgeries, requested a trade, and has been dominant in a bounce-back 2021-22 season. His entire career and bounce-back season have all culminated for him to get his 500th point as a member of the Blues. He’s now up to 501 points in 592 games, and is up to 241 career goals, ranking fifth in Blues history.
His chemistry with fellow Russian Pavel Buchnevich and star center Robert Thomas has been fabulous to watch, they’ve consistently been the best forward line for the Blues. The 2021-22 season is Tarasenko’s sixth season with 50 or more points, and his first since 2018-19.
It’s been fun to watch Tarasenko return to normalcy this season and remain healthy. When he continues to perform this way, he’s always a fan favorite in St. Louis.
The Goaltending “Controversy” Continues
Controversy may not be the right word to use for this situation, but the Blues still clearly don’t have a clear-cut number one, even with Ville Husso’s play throughout the entire season. Jordan Binnington continues to struggle mightily, and a lot of that has to do with confidence issues and the defense in front of him. There is still a gap between the two netminders, and head coach Craig Berube seems to prefer Husso as the starter right now.
|Save Percentage (SV%)||.922||.899|
|Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA)||13.7||-8.9|
The above numbers indicate that it’s not even close, even as Husso has come back down to earth recently, Binnington’s numbers are just so ugly. Part of it is the fact that the Blues’ defensive unit is poor and has played worse in front of Binnington. A game like the one against the Oilers last Friday is an example of that, the defense was poor and Binnington allowed four goals, they woke up and when Husso came in he gave up only two goals.
The most telling gap between the two netminders is Husso ranking 10th in the NHL with GSAA and Binnington ranking 57th among the qualified. The GSAA stat measures goals saved above average, which is SV% and shots faced versus the league average SV% on the same number of shots. It’s been an ugly season for Binnington and could determine his future with the team, Husso is trending towards being the playoff starter.
Blues Now Have Six 20-Goal Scorers
Now that the Blues have six 20-goal scorers this season, they’ve tied the Florida Panthers for the league lead, an incredible accomplishment for this team. This graphic tells me that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is good at his job – trading, drafting, or signing these players at reasonable prices for the team.
With the current six 20-goal scorers, there’s a chance that they could get to nine total by the end of the season. Currently, Brayden Schenn has 19 goals, Ryan O’Reilly has 16 and Thomas has 15. Their depth of scoring has been phenomenal and it’s a reason why they’ve stayed afloat amidst shaky defense and goaltending.
The additions of Buchnevich and Brandon Saad are among the best acquisitions of last summer for any team, they’ve both contributed on both ends of the ice at a high level. They’ve always fit the style that the Blues want to play, and it’s shown all season, they represent strokes of brilliance from Armstrong.
The breakout seasons of Jordan Kyrou and Ivan Barbashev have been tremendous to watch, because they’ve always had the skill, and it took Barbashev longer to realize that. As for Tarasenko and David Perron, it’s just another season for them, they’re used to this type of success when it comes to putting pucks in the net. This is Tarasenko’s seventh 20-plus goal season and Perron’s sixth, fifth in St. Louis after having a 20-goal season in 2013-14 with the Oilers.
Kyrou Misses Three Games With Illness
The Blues were without Kyrou in three of their four games and the entirety of the Canada trip last week. He did skate before their games with the Oilers and Flames, signaling that he could return to start this week. They didn’t miss a beat in terms of scoring without him, as they tallied 15 goals in those three games.
After a breakout All-Star season for most of 2021-22, Kyrou hit a rough patch of sorts in his last five games. He had zero goals and three points in that stretch, and his plus/minus was minus-6 throughout. While a lot of people have complained about his two-way game and lack of backchecking, I’d much rather see his skating and scoring ability even if he lacks some defensive ability.
The Blues are a better team with Kyrou than without him, considering he’s got 62 points in 61 games and has led their offensive charge for the majority of the season. Hopefully, he is able to return as soon as possible, and this absence doesn’t take away from what has been an elite offensive season.
The Star of the Week
I’d be wrong to not mention the week it was for Nathan Walker, who returned to the Blues for his third stint of the season after two months in the American Hockey League (AHL). He wasn’t their best scorer and defensive player, but he scored two goals in four games and continued to produce in limited minutes.
He’s a heart and soul type of player, his teammates love him and the fans do as well, and his effort is next level. He scored a big goal against the Canucks, and continued that timing by scoring the go-ahead goal late against the Flames. He’s great in spurts for the Blues, he’s got seven goals in 16 games, and the way they use him works well.
Walker has clicked well with Alexei Toropchenko and anybody centering that fourth-line, which has been Logan Brown recently, it would be great to see this line come to fruition in postseason play.
The Week Ahead
- Monday: vs. Arizona Coyotes, 7 PM
- Wednesday: vs. Seattle Kraken, 7 PM
- Friday: vs. Minnesota Wild, 7 PM
- Saturday: vs. New York Islanders, 7 PM
The Blues have a massive four-game homestand this week, with three non-playoff teams and an opportunity to rack up some points. The Friday game with the Wild should be incredible to watch, as it could very well be a preview of their potential first-round matchup. The Blues need to win games, that’s all there is to it this week, it could determine the rest of the season and playoff positioning.