Blues Weekly: Thomas Injury, Goaltending, Walker & More

The St. Louis Blues had a fantastic week with a record of 3-0-1. They are now 15-8-5 on the season and continue with a three-game week coming up. The injuries are still prevalent, but the next-man-up mentality is working for this team.

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

The schedule got easier in terms of their opponents this past week; that certainly helped them, but they played well overall. The goaltending uncertainty hasn’t mattered, nor has the fact that they haven’t had Justin Faulk in the last week, their best defenseman.

Thomas Out with Lower Body Injury

After struggling with injuries in his short career, Robert Thomas tried to play through his current injury but couldn’t do so any longer. He missed all four games this week, and the Blues were able to make things happen without one of their best playmakers.

He isn’t on injured reserve, so hopefully, he can return in one of their three games in the upcoming week. He’s been an elite player for the Blues this season with 22 points in 24 games before going down. Either way, the Blues are a better team with Thomas on the ice, that goes without saying.

Thrilling Shorthanded Win Over the Panthers

The Blues played three of their four games with 17 skaters instead of 18 due to COVID issues with the salary cap. None of them were as thrilling as their overtime victory over one of the league’s best, the Florida Panthers.

The Blues looked like they may get run out of their own building in the first period, as the Panthers led 1-0 and outshot them 20-5. They settled in and battled their way to a late 3-2 lead, but they lost Ville Husso and Jake Walman late in the period after the Panthers tied the game at 3-3.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

In overtime, Pavel Buchnevich ended it quickly with a wraparound goal just 53 seconds into it. He has proven to be a fantastic trade acquisition by general manager Doug Armstrong. The Blues were able to get points in all four games with the two Florida teams, the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. They won two of those games, a huge confidence booster for whoever they throw into the lineup.

Lindgren Earns Three Wins

One of the many feel-good stories in the NHL this season has to be Charlie Lindgren, who is now 3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage (SV%) for the Blues this season. He earned a win over his former club, the Montreal Canadiens, and another over the Detroit Red Wings. His other win was when he came into the game for Husso and saved three shots, and he got that win due to him being in net when the winning goal was scored.

Lindgren dominated the American Hockey League (AHL) in 10 games for the Springfield Thunderbirds this season. He tallied a .925 SV% in those games, winning eight times. He had a .907 SV% in 24 career games before coming to the Blues; it’s remarkable what he has done for this team.

Walker Nets Hat Trick in Return to Blues

Another fantastic story in St. Louis is Australian native Nathan Walker scoring a hat trick in his first game back with the Blues since a short stint last season when he played eight games. We’ve seen his ability to produce goals, he had a goal in each of the last two seasons with a total of 13 games played. That might not sound impressive, but he has made a lot of little opportunities.

Nathan Walker San Antonio Rampage
Nathan Walker, San Antonio Rampage (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

He was another player in the Blues’ system having a fantastic season with the Thunderbirds, he had 17 points in 19 games. He was an emergency callup for the Blues due to their dire cap situation, he made the most of this opportunity, and it will be hard to justify not keeping him here when the team is healthy.

He’s a smaller winger, at 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, but he plays bigger and stronger. He is a responsible forward with a touch for the net when given an opportunity. He can be a solid fourth-liner over a long stretch of games here, but the Blues’ depth may prevent that from happening.

Husso and Walman Placed on Injured Reserve

The Blues placed Husso and Walman on injured reserve prior to their Saturday contest with the Montreal Canadiens. It’s important to note that this is only injured reserve, not long-term injured reserve. They will only have to miss seven days rather than 24 days, like James Neal and Klim Kostin did.

Husso has been terrific for the Blues, with a record of 3-2-1 and a .927 SV%. He had emerged as a fantastic backup for Jordan Binnington, but when Binnington went onto the COVID list, Husso stepped up in a big way.

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

As for Walman, he has been a quality skating defenseman who has stepped up many times for them in the last two seasons. They miss his skating on the back-end, but once Faulk is back, that should help the defensive unit. There is no timetable on Husso or Walman, but as I mentioned, it doesn’t appear to be a long-term absence. The Blues did call up Matthew Peca under emergency conditions, and he has an assist in two games played.

Both Kyrou and Schenn Now Injured

Jordan Kyrou, the Blues leader in points, went down with an upper-body injury in the win over the Canadiens. He took a hit up high and down he went, he left the game early and is currently day-to-day. He missed their overtime loss to the Ducks, and head coach Craig Berube doesn’t know how long he will be out.

Kyrou has broken out for the Blues this season, and it would be a shame for this season to go into disarray with an injury for him. His line has consistently possessed the puck this season, which isn’t surprising given his 25 points in 27 games. In the Sunday game versus the Ducks, there was another injury for Schenn, but this one isn’t related to the one that had him on the shelf for nearly three weeks. He has struggled offensively this season, and in his return from the first injury, he has just four points in 10 games.

Related: 3 Blues Who Need to Step Up Their Game

Two of those four points for Schenn came on assists in the game against the Ducks, where he got injured. It’s been an inconsistent season for him, and he hasn’t been able to produce to the level of expectation, especially since he is in his second season of an eight-year contract. The unfortunate part for Schenn is that he has a goal and three assists in the last three games, but now he is injured and will likely miss time.

Blues Use Their Fifth Starting Goaltender

The most remarkable thing about this season for the Blues could be that they’ve used five different starting goaltenders before Christmas. The fifth was Jon Gillies, who started their overtime to the Ducks, and he wasn’t bad. That was his first game since the 2017-18 season when he was with the Calgary Flames.

Goaltenders have not stayed on the ice. Binnington went onto the COVID list, Husso got injured, Joel Hofer can’t be called up, and Lindgren got the night off against Anaheim. To expand on the Hofer situation, he has contract bonuses that could take the Blues over the salary cap if he were to be called up, which is why they called Lindgren up in the first place.

Charlie Lindgren Montreal Canadiens
Charlie Lindgren with the Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’s underrated and impressive that the Blues are in a playoff spot through 28 games with this situation. Teams typically don’t have a total of five starting goaltenders in an 82-game season, let alone through their first 28 games, hardly a quarter into the season. If anything, this situation has brought a sense of urgency ad confidence for this team to step up no matter who is between the pipes for them, this could be a huge factor down the road.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: at Dallas Stars, 7:30 PM
  • Friday: vs. Dallas Stars, 7 PM
  • Sunday: at Winnipeg Jets, 2 PM

The Blues week ahead will feature three games, all of which are with divisional opponents. They lost to the Stars early in the season, but they beat the Jets in their lone game at Winnipeg. Divisional games are always difficult, so the Blues will have to continue to weather the storm with the injuries they have.

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