Blues Weekly: Streaks Galore, Defense, Schenn & More

The St. Louis Blues had an up-and-down slate of games last week. They played well in spurts, but overall it wasn’t a good week. There are some subtle changes that should be made with this lineup, but I’m afraid the team isn’t willing to make those moves.

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

The schedule only gets more difficult from this point to the end of the calendar year. The Florida trip was the start of a gauntlet for the Blues. They have to find more consistency throughout the next few weeks, but I wouldn’t bet on it with their complete lack of consistency this season so far.

Blues’ Winning Streaked Snapped at 7 Games

The Blues started the week with a win over the Anaheim Ducks. They won 3-1 despite not playing as well as they should have. Acciari scored early in the game, but their offensive production was stagnant for a while. It was a 1-1 game until late in the second period when Justin Faulk scored the game-winner from Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou on the power play. This game got the streak to seven games, but it ended with authority in their next contest, as they got smoked by the Buffalo Sabres, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back. The final score in that game was 6-2 Sabres, as they scored three goals in the second period after the Blues made it a 1-1 game.

Related: Blues Owe Winning Streak to 4th Liner Noel Acciari

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Things got worse against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the Blues allowed three goals in the first eight minutes of the game. The Lightning took it to them, and I wouldn’t blame Jordan Binnington for the loss. It was another game where the defensive coverage was brutal, thus hanging the goaltender out to dry. As for the game against the Florida Panthers, winning it may have saved the Blues’ season. They played a poor first period and trailed 3-0 out of the gate.

The Blues were outshot 17-11 in the first period and 16-6 in the second. The Panthers led 4-1 after two periods, but the Blues turned it around with three goals to tie the game in the final 12 minutes of the third. It started with O’Reilly scoring, then Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko followed that up with goals of their own. The overtime winner scored by Kyrou was a breakout sprung by a glorious Torey Krug stretch pass. Don’t look now, but Kyrou is up to 18 points in 21 games after a rough start to the season. After the comeback win in Florida, the Blues finished the week with a surprising 2-2 record.

Blues’ Defense Struggles Again with Parayko Back

Outside of Calle Rosen and Niko Mikkola, the Blues’ defensive unit has not been very good. Despite the inevitable return of Parayko, the Blues’ defensive coverage has gotten worse. That’s been a trend throughout the entire season, as Parayko’s lack of awareness has given up a boatload of goals. He and Nick Leddy are not a good pairing, but the coaching staff clearly hasn’t seen it the same way.

Colton Parayko St. Louis Blues
Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There is no reason for Rosen or Mikkola to be playing sheltered minutes at this point. They’ve both earned more playing time, but they aren’t getting it right now. I’m not saying that they should receive top pairing minutes, but the current allocation of minutes is not enough. The coaching staff hasn’t made big enough adjustments to fix their issues. Mikkola was paired with Faulk for the Panthers game, but he played 11 fewer minutes than him. While players like Krug and Leddy can provide an offensive boost from the blue line, they should not be playing top-pairing minutes.

This won’t be fixed in the near future, as the Blues are stuck with three overpaid defensemen in Krug, Parayko, and Leddy. They refuse to send a message to Parayko even though his minutes should’ve been cut months ago. On top of that, they need to have both goaltenders playing above expectations. While they remain in a playoff spot for now, I’m not sure how sustainable this is.

Schenn Suffers Lower Body Injury Against Florida

Brayden Schenn exited the game against the Panthers after over 13 minutes of ice time with a lower-body injury. It’s not usually a good thing when a player exits a game and doesn’t return. This likely signals some missed time for Schenn, but there hasn’t been an update yet from head coach Craig Berube so I won’t speculate further. Losing him for any period of time will be massive for the Blues, as he’s been one of their most consistent forwards with 17 points in 21 games.

Brayden Schenn St. Louis Blues
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I could see Acciari or Ivan Barbashev as the third-line center with this injury. If they bump Acciari up to that line, I believe they will put Nikita Alexandrov on the fourth line and get Tyler Pitlick back into the lineup. Regardless of what they do, it’ll be difficult to replace Schenn in this lineup.

Blues’ Week Ahead

  • Monday: vs. Dallas Stars (12-6-4, 28 points), 7 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes (11-6-5, 27 points), 7 PM
  • Saturday: at Pittsburgh Penguins (11-8-3, 25 points), 6 PM

The Blues will continue to play a tough schedule this week. The good thing is that two of the games will be at home, but the competition will be stiff regardless. The Dallas Stars remind me a lot of the 2021-22 Blues with the number of scorers they have, but with a better defense and starting goaltender. The Carolina Hurricanes have struggled to score goals this season, but they always present a tough challenge. Saturday night will be a big one with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had five straight wins before a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. As such, this will be another critical week for the Blues to stay in the mix for the playoffs.

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