The St. Louis Blues are relishing a five-game win streak but don’t be fooled. They’re not sitting back on their heels. They were hard-fought wins but even when they aren’t playing their best, they find a way to win. Outstanding goaltending, a shining prospect and hard work from the team as a whole are contributing factors to these latest wins.
The Binnington/Allen Show
Whether you tuned in on a night Jordan Binnington was between the pipes or Jake Allen had slid in net, it’s guaranteed to be an exciting game. Three of the last five wins were solidified by Binnington. Albeit, one of them was a come-from-behind win against the Blackhawks, he regrouped after a soft goal and kept the team in the game.
With Binnington’s win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 16, he earned a spot in NHL history as the sixth goaltender to earn his 40th win in less than 60 games. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? No doubt he’s earned the starting position but sometimes he needs a break.
Allen started the last two games vs. the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks. The Oilers matchup tested his ability against two of the league’s elite players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It was a big feat, but he has been humble about when he plays and being part of the team. “He was a machine. He was playing the puck great,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said after the game. “He was a rock back there tonight. It just gives us a ton of confidence.”
The Blues goaltending is as solid as it gets. The fact that the two netminders get along well and support each other makes it even stronger. Blues fans can continue to enjoy the excitement with these two in net.
The Other Jordan on the Team
Jordan Kyrou, one of the Blues most hyped prospects, was picked in the second round (35th overall) in the 2016 Draft. He made the opening night roster last season and scored his first NHL point in his debut. He scored one goal and notched two assists in the 16 NHL games he played but the majority of his time was spent in the American Hockey League.
An unfortunate dislocated knee injury caused him to have surgery at the end of last season and he was unable to recover in time to make the opening roster. He was placed on non-roster IR prior to the 2019-20 season and then officially sent to the minors at the end of October. He scored nine goals and assisted on six for 15 points in the 16 games he played for the San Antonio Rampage before being called up on Dec. 9.
Kyrou has been playing on lines with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz, as well as Mackenzie MacEachern and Jacob de la Rose. He scored his first goal of the season against the Avalanche on Dec. 16. Let’s just say he made an impact with this one.
Kyrou scored his second goal in the Blues’ first game against the Sharks since defeating them in the Western Conference Final last season. Originally it was listed as unassisted but then credit was officially given to Schwartz. Following the game, head coach Craig Berube said, “He’s a talented guy. He’s got good skill. Puck skills and obviously skating ability. He’s scoring some good goals for us right now.”
The Blues have needed some more scoring power and hopefully Kyrou will provide that. It’s an unfortunate situation with injuries, but an opportunity for him to prove his place on the team when they need him. Stay tuned.
Who Else is Hot?
After missing six games with a lower-body injury, Oskar Sundqvist scored a goal and assisted on another in the win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 12. He has four points in the last five games. David Perron scored a hat trick in the win against the Avalanche and has five points in his last three games.
Justin Faulk has amped up his play as of late with a goal, three assists and a plus-three rating in his last five games. “He’s a good power-play guy, always has been. You know you get to a new team and it takes time,” Berube said following the win against the Blackhawks. “When you’d been on one team (for) how many years, it takes time. But he’s playing some real good hockey.”
Coach Berube’s Accomplishment
In his 100th game (Dec. 21 vs. San Jose), coach Berube earned his 61st win which surpassed Ken Hitchcock’s previous franchise record of 60 wins in 100 games. Considering the Blues have employed some of the winningest coaches in history in addition to Hitchcock (Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville just to name a couple), this is an important milestone for Berube.
Since taking over for the Blues on Nov. 19, 2018, Berube has a 61-27-12 record and keeps grinding out wins behind the bench. “They definitely know how to win,” Berube said after the win vs. the Sharks. “It’s character and leadership, that’s a big part of it, for sure.”
Says it all, doesn’t it?