The proverbial sky was falling on many Blues fans prior to this past Sunday evening when the club announced they’d acquired former Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly to a five-year deal.
Before this happened many a Note fan had begun a sad, lemmings-like walk towards the Stan Musial bridge; signing forward Tyler Bozak, twice former Blues winger David Perron, and backup goalie Chad Johnson wasn’t cutting the mustard in terms of improvement. Add John Tavares leaving the Blues off his free agent shortlist and you had something bordering on panic reverberating throughout Blues fandom.
But the team got their top-tier center in O’Reilly via trade, and GM Doug Armstrong made his team considerably better on paper. Plus, it seems O’Reilly really wants to be a Blue, which is nice considering the Lou’s black eyes throughout the past half-decade.
“It’s a great, hardworking town. The people there that you meet, you feel are just real genuine,” O’Reilly recently told ‘The Fast Lane.’
“They love their hockey and I think the most alumni end up staying and living and making St. Louis their permanent home over any other team, which is really impressive. I’ve had guys that I’ve played with before say that you’re going to absolutely love it there, and I can’t wait to get going.”
As far as attributes O’Reilly brings to town; for starters, he set a new NHL records for face-offs won in a single season in April (1,269), which the Blues could use. Asked about his prowess on the dot, O’Reilly threw lots of credit his former teammates’ way.
“Wingers help a lot for sure. I can’t take all the credit. I had some guys that obviously battled for me a lot,” he said. “I use a really stiff stick, and that gives me I think an advantage over other guys, that I kind of just grew up using.
“Having a plan and knowing where the puck’s going to go and making sure the guys on the ice have an idea of what you’re trying to do. If you do that usually you get some bounces and it seems to work well.”
Another glaring Note weakness has been the power play, on which O’Reilly netted 15 goals this past season for the NHL’s third best total. Being that O’Reilly accomplished this on a Buffalo team which finished 2017-18 with only 65 points, it’s not crazy to think he can put biscuits in baskets with his new Blues teammates.
“The guys in Buffalo, I think we had a great setup going and guys that were all cohesive and just worked well together. I think that’s something we want to get established in St. Louis,” he said. “For myself, it’s just little details. Putting those little things together and making plays and trusting. There’s so much skill on the team that if we’re all on the same page, we’re going to score. We’re going to get chances and I think we’ll be fine.”
O’Reilly discussed several topics in his Fast Lane chat, including what he thinks of this Blues squad and the type of player fans can expect while watching him. You can listen to the entire interview below.
Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and 101Sports.com for plenty of Blues talk and analysis throughout the offseason.