Blues Weekly: Bad Defense, Buchnevich, Snuggerud, & More

The St. Louis Blues have done nothing in the last few weeks to prove their worth as a playoff contender. Things are not getting better, and the results are showing that. They haven’t won back-to-back games since their seven-game win streak that ended on Nov. 23.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

This team lacks the structure and mentality to make the playoffs this season. It’s been a disappointing season on every level, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t fix it by making the right moves moving forward. The trade deadline will be a huge factor in the future of this franchise. They have rentals to trade and other players to consider moving out of town.

Blues’ Streak of Allowing 3 Goals in a Period

The streak came to an end in the loss to the Winnipeg Jets. They allowed two goals in both the second and third periods. This streak should say a lot about how bad the defense has been. It’s hard to win games when allowing three goals in a period. They won two of the eight games during the streak, over the Florida Panthers in overtime and a close call with the New York Islanders.

While the goaltenders haven’t made enough key saves, it’s hard to blame them. Both Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss have been under siege behind a terrible defense. The Blues’ defense hasn’t been good since before COVID. They were disastrous in the bubble, losing in the first round to the Vancouver Canucks. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as general manager Doug Armstrong has brought in more offensive defensemen to change the style. On top of Torey Krug, Justin Faulk, and Nick Leddy struggling defensively, Colton Parayko has continued to regress.

Related: Blues Need to Rebuild Amidst Disastrous Season

Latest News & Highlights

The Blues won’t get better defensively without changing the roster. I believe that next summer will be crucial for the future of the franchise. They need to get rid of multiple contracts on the blue line, including Krug, Leddy, and Parayko. They need to get heavier on the blue line with players like Calle Rosen and Niko Mikkola being their best defenders this season. However, it’s become clear that this is not an issue that can be fixed within this season.

Buchnevich Injury is a Huge Loss

The Blues have been without Pavel Buchnevich for three games. He was injured in the loss to the New York Rangers, where he scored a goal and was a plus-2. He has been the Blues’ best forward when healthy this season, but he’s missed eight games. In games where he hasn’t played, the Blues are 3-4-1 and have lost two of three during his current absence.

He’s such an important part of the forward group. The Blues use him in a number of ways, including as a defensive forward. Dating back to the middle of November, Buchnevich has 16 points in 12 games, including eight goals. They rely on him and Robert Thomas more than almost anybody. If the Blues do start a rebuild, Thomas, Buchnevich, and Jordan Kyrou are three forwards to build around. Buchnevich’s affordable contract runs until after the 2024-25 season and carries a $5.8 million salary cap hit. He seems to be progressing well but won’t return against the Nashville Predators tonight.

Snuggerud Turning Heads at the University of Minnesota

On top of participating in the United States World Junior Championships (WJC) camp, Jimmy Snuggerud is turning heads for the Minnesota Golden Gophers as well. He’ll likely make the cut for the U.S. roster at the 2023 World Junior Championships (WJC) too. Blues 2022 first-round pick Snuggerud has a boatload of potential. Alongside Jake Neighbours and Zachary Bolduc, it looks like the Blues have found three quality first-round forwards to plug into the lineup down the road.

Jeremy Snuggerud USNTDP
Jeremy Snuggerud USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

I knew that Snuggerud would be set up for success at Minnesota this season, but he’s exceeded expectations. In 20 games, he has 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points. He ranks first in points for Minnesota and ninth overall in NCAA hockey. The Golden Gophers are 13-5-0 and rank third in the NCAA rankings. Both Snuggerud and 2022 third-overall pick Logan Cooley have been elite. It’s been fun to see rapid development from Snuggerud, and he’ll be exciting to watch at the 2023 WJC.

Blues’ Week Ahead

  • Monday: vs. Nashville Predators (12-11-2, 26 points), 7 PM
  • Thursday: at Edmonton Oilers (16-12-0, 32 points), 8 PM
  • Friday: at Calgary Flames (13-11-4, 30 points), 8 PM

The Blues play the Predators at home tonight before heading to Western Canada. While the season almost feels lost already, these are winnable games for the Blues. Both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have had up-and-down seasons. The Oilers are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, while the Flames are 4-4-2. It looks like Alexey Toropchenko will return to the lineup this week after a conditioning assignment in the AHL. I don’t know how impactful he will be, but he should be able to give them an energy boost from the fourth line. I think the Blues should be able to get a win or two this week, but this team has shown zero consistency this season.

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