Finally! We can stop talking about how the Blues struggle with winning the second game in a series this season, right? A solid performance all around over the weekend, albeit, against a lesser team like the Anaheim Ducks but it’s still a heavy team that the Blues needed to overcome their shortcomings and sweep an opponent. That being said, let’s look at my five takeaways from the weekend sweep.
1. The Blues May Have Struck Gold With Kyrou
I do always love how trade pieces can result in gold for a NHL team down the road. Remember Brian Elliott? Remember how everyone was ticked off about trading the Blues “best” goalie to the Flames in 2016? Well, that trade turned into a 2nd round draft pick that became…wait for it…Jordan Kyrou. The last time the Blues had a 40-goal scorer in a season was Tarasenko (15-16) & Brad Boyes (07-08) but the Blues may have one of those in the making. Kyrou, for 6 games now, has not only been scoring goals but he has been involved with every offensive chance the Blues have had in those games. Personally, I don’t see anything slowing this kid down. His game is strict and confident which could be a key to the Blues “Cup window” remaining wide open.
2. Brayden Schenn May Be The Most Overlooked Player On This Team
This guy is on one of the hottest streaks in the NHL this season. After his performance last night, he has a seven game point streak which is tied for 1st in the NHL. He has been a part of the most productive line (22 points in 6 games) with Schwartz and Kyrou. Since they’ve been put together, the Blues have put together a 4-1-1 record that has catapulted them to 1st in their division. If that doesn’t catch your eye, then how about this. Since the Blues acquired Schenn in the off-season of 2017, he leads the Blues in Goals (76), Assists (116), Points (192), EVG (53), PPG (23) & GWG (17) and believe me, plenty more categories. Schenn may be the most under-appreciated player on this roster, and I’d say he’s fine with that.
3. Everyone’s Biggest Concern Might Be The Team’s Strength
The biggest question surrounding this team going into the year was goaltending. How was Binnginton going to respond and could Husso fill the loss of Jake Allen? That question, for now, has become the biggest strength of this team. Binnington’s play speaks for itself after posting a 5-1-1 record in 7 starts (third best record among starting goalies this season). Then there’s Husso, who had his rough starts to the year but was impressive in the Blues victory over the Ducks on Sunday night. The way I see it, your goalie needs to save your team from the mistakes they make during play and both have shown they are more than capable of accomplishing that this season. The stat that really gets me, this Blues team is +11 goal differential at even strength this year, one of the best in NHL, that is a result of your goalies locking things down in the most crucial points of the game.
4. Confidence Is Soaring Right Now For This Team
If you don’t notice this area for the Blues then you are missing something while watching the games. Since that Vegas victory, this team has put together some impressive victories that have sent their confidence soaring. Defeating Vegas, a juggernaut, when they gave up a two goal lead in the 3rd period was the jumping off point. Then scoring 7 goals on a goalie who had allowed 14 total in the previous 7 games. On top of that you have Justin Faulk who leads the NHL in +/- (+10) while performing as one of the best d-men on this Blues team. Finally, you have secondary players that are finding their groove in Clifford, Sanford and Sammy Blais. It’s no coincidence that the Blues are on a 3-game win streak. Things are clicking, it just took a little patience to get here.
5. The Missing Piece(s)
Finally, I can’t be all “Mr. Positive” around here (because I know you all would hold me accountable for that). Even with everything clicking right now for the Blues, there is one area that is lacking, the third line. Robert Thomas and Mike Hoffman are still searching for that chemistry that the other lines seem to have found in the last few games. These two are averaging a little over 14:00 of ice time in the last 3 games but haven’t found the score sheet (other than an assist each on Sunday). Unfortunately, they can’t be shifted around to other lines to see what else could work because those lines are clicking, so they will need to resolve their issues together. There have been shades of success in the last couple games, in terms of chances, but Craig Berube is looking for more from these two. And when these two begin to click, that will create some scary match-ups with these other opponents in the West Division.