Bella Ruzicka

The “Blues Bits Blog” contains in-depth, honest reviews of how the Blues play in each game of the 2022-23 NHL season.

Blues bits 2022-23

October 16, 2022

The “Blues Bits Blog” is filled with detailed analysis and review of the St. Louis Blues games played during the 2022-23 season. Read about how well the Blues are playing, which stars are on hot streaks and which players are as cold as the ice they play on.

Saturday, Oct. 15 review: versus Columbus Blue Jackets

Final Score: St. Louis Blues: five – Columbus Blue Jackets: two

Even before PA Announcer Tom Calhoun started reading the opening lineup, Blues fans were tense. Let’s rip the band-aid off and talk about what happened this offseason. The Blues got worse. With losing in David Perron and Ville Husso combined with early injuries to Scott Perunovich and Marco Scandella left the Blues’ defensive structure in shambles.But when Head Coach Craig Berube opened the game with his signature line of last season, the Saad-O’Reily-Kyrou line, and the tension lifted away. It’s hockey season. 

First Period: 

The Blues looked strong in the opening period, but the third line left a little to be desired. Only 18 seconds into the first power play of the game, Torey Krug found Pavel Buchnevich for his first goal of the season. The Blues seemed to lose a bit of energy in the final minutes, but overall dominated the first period in terms of physicality. The 4th line of Walker-Accarri-Toropchenko looked powerful, and their defensive presence was hard to miss. Jake Neighbours began the trend of the night as he passed away a puck skating into the blue paint, giving up a phenomenal chance. Despite the weak effort by the third line, the Blues finished the first period in good position. one-nothing, good guys. 

Second Period:

Jubilation filled the stands as hero of the people Vladimir Tarasenko throttled a wrister past a poorly positioned Elvis Merzlikins. Despite an abundance of energy to open the period, Blues fans returned to their usual in-season depression as Columbus scored two in 18 seconds to slash the excitement from the building. The Blues lacked backcheck and defense from their forwards during the entire second period. While I wouldn’t blame the first goal on Jordan Binnington, he overcommitted on the second, leaving his left side wide open for an easy wrister. The Blues poured on the chances late in the period, with multiple opportunities to score on an exhausted Columbus goaltender. two-two. 

Third Period: 

The Blues carried over their offensive energy from the end of the second period into the third. Columbus looked gassed and the Blues took the opportunity to make the game less entertaining for Blue Jackets fans. . Jake Neighbours and Ivan Barbashev netted their first goals of the season on incredible plays. Neighbours is most definitely ready for that primetime NHL spot. The only qualm with the Blues was their under-utilization of defensemen in the slot, as Parayko seemed primed for a huge blast in multiple instances. five-two, the Blues pick up their third straight season-opener win. 

Key Takeaways:

Shoot the puck:

The Blues need to pass less and shoot more. Jake Neighbours redeemed himself, but the Blues couldn’t figure out how to shoot the puck in the second period. I understand that hockey breeds selflessness, but if they don’t find a way to make their net-front play more consistent, we’re in for a long season.

 Jake Neighbors is Ready:

Despite some doubt from top NHL statisticians as to whether Neighbours would be ready given his lack of experience in professional hockey, he looked phenomenal on the ice. Quick skating, strong stick presence, and even a couple hits to boot with his first goal of the season, he’s ready to play with the big boys.

Vova wants blood:

Vladimir Tarasenko is on a bender. He scored a career-high of 79 points last season and he looks lethal again. Despite the looming contract talks of next offseason (or trade talks come the deadline) Vladdy looks motivated to once again lead this team into a strong postseason.

Blues bits Three Stars of the Game

First Star: Vladimir Tarasenko – 2G

Second Star: Jake Neighbours – 1G

Third Star: Pavel Buchnevich – 1G, 1A

Wednesday October 19th.  St. Louis Blues at Seattle Kraken

Final Score: St. Louis Blues: four – Seattle Kraken: three

The St. Louis Blues returned to the city of emeralds for a showdown with former teammates Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn. Social media buzzed with speculation after star-winger Pavel Buchnevich left the ice early during Wednesday’s morning skate. The Blues’ odds slipped significantly after Head Coach Craig Berube announced that he would be sitting Pavel Buchnevich and substituting him for newly acquired forward Josh Leivo. After some friendly chirping at warm-ups, the Blues hit the ice to conquer the Kraken. 

First Period: 

The Blues looked strong defensively in the opening minutes, supplemented by strong play from defenseman Justin Faulk. The game opened up offensively after star-winger Jordan Kyrou placed a snapshot just above goaltender Martin Jones’ blocker side, giving the Blues an early lead. The Kraken got their revenge on Jordan Binnington late in the period, after young center Will Borgen got a breakaway that Binnington initially stopped. Borgen scored after pounding away at Binnington’s pads, tying it up for the Kraken. Goals from Brayden Schenn and Justin Faulk in the middle-minutes sent Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol into a frenzy. The Blues isolated most of the Kraken’s chances towards the later minutes of the period, but wasted a number of power play opportunities with poor-blueline work. Overall solid work in the first period. 3-1, good guys.  

Second Period:

The Blues looked sloppy this period, and couldn’t stop the rush from the Kraken at the blue line. Torey Krug hung Jordan Binnington out to dry after lapsing coverage on a fast-moving Alex Wennenberg, who set Adam Larsson up for a perfectly-placed shot on Binnington’s blocker side. The Blues looked to settle the score at the end of the period, as it got increasingly more physical. Rookie Jake Neighbours made himself known after putting the body on fellow rookie Matty Beniers, much to the chagrin of the Seattle bench. The Blues would end the period frustrated as they gave up yet another chance to a charging Joonas Donskoi. 3-3 at the buzzer. 

Third Period: 

The Blues engaged in a defensive struggle with the Kraken for the rest of the game. Defensive lapses from Robert Bortuzzo and Torey Krug hung Jordan Binnington out to dry for a second straight period. Human frankenstein Colton Parayko looked solid, but the real star in the third period was Jordan Binnington. Stopping multiple chances from a freshly motivated Seattle offense. Binnington looked sharp in the crease even without the support of his blueline. The Blues didn’t generate much offense in the third, and the game went to extra minutes. 


The Blues struggled in the first minute, but quickly turned their lines over to get into the Kraken zone for some phenomenal chances. Their effort was rewarded when serial-passer Vladimir Tarasenko gave a waiting Justin Faulk a saucer pass from in front of the net. Martin Jones was singed by Justin Faulk’s laser, winning the game for the Blues in overtime. The Blues are now 2-0 on the season. 

Key Takeaways:

Defense, Defense, Defense:

The Blues would’ve lost if they hadn’t played the Kraken. The defensive lapses that saw the sea monsters score their second and third goals were inexcusable. Torey Krug looks lost on the ice, and Robert Bortuzzo is practically benched with how little ice-time Craig Berube is allowing him. Things need to change, and soon. 

He’s Still Our Guy:

Despite the issue with defense, Justin Faulk still played like a stud. His two goals give him good prospects for his offensive game this season, and he managed to make his zone-entry play stand-out despite the poor circumstances for the blueline. Faulk is proving to fans and coaches alike that he’s still our guy. 

The Grim Reaper Reaps Redemption:

Jordan Binnington received… feedback… when he posted a picture of the Grim Reaper on his goalie mask for this season. However, his play has received immense praise. He stood on his head in the crease despite being hung out to dry by the defense, and his play single-handedly saved the Blues from surefire failure. He’s on the highway to redemption. 

Blues bits three stars of the game

First Star: Justin Faulk – 2G, GWG

Second Star: Jordan Binnington – .914 SVG%, 32 Saves 

Third Star: Vladimir Tarasenko – 3A 

Saturday October 22.  St. Louis Blues at Edmonton Oilers

Final Score: St. Louis Blues: two – Edmonton Oilers: zero

Well that was heart attack inducing. The Blues traveled to Edmonton on Saturday, defeating the Oilers 2-0 in a very stressful game. After scoring early in the first period, this game remained stuck at 1-0 until the waning seconds of the third period when Justin Faulk scored an empty netter.  The Blues blanked the Oilers for three periods, primarily due to great team defense and some strong goaltending by Jordan Binnington, making 23 saves. Blues forward Pavel Buchnevich was once again absent after suffering an undisclosed injury in practice on Wednesday. To compensate for this loss, Blues Head Coach Craig Berube went with 11 forwards and seven defenseman to try and stiffel the Oilers high powered offense. They won. It worked. 

Keys Takeaways: 

Team defense:

The Blues struggling defensive core went under the microscope this past offseason and that scrutiny was only magnified after injuries to defensmen Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich earlier this year. At least some of that criticism was put to bed after this game. All 23 Blues skaters played a strong, controlling defensive game, holding the high powered Oilers offense to just 23 shots. An Oilers offense, I might add, that contains two-time league MVP Connor McDavid and perennial 40-goal-scorer Leon Draisaitl.

Special teams play:

The Blues had a power-play unit that operated at 27% last season. That was good for second best in the NHL. However, there were questions if they would be able to replicate their success this season after losing forward David Perron to free agency. There doesn’t appear to be any problems so far as the Blues power-play looks automatic. The power-play unit had complete control when they were on the ice and their hard work was rewarded with a Torey Krug game-winning power-play goal. The Oilers however, have an equally strong power-play and the Blues penalty-kill did an excellent job neutralizing them on their one power-play.  

Lockdown ability:

The Blues were able to hold a lead for almost 55 minutes against one of the most potent offenses in the NHL. That’s nothing to scoff at. This Blues team has demonstrated their ability to lockdown and take complete control when they need to. They have demonstrated they are willing to play with grit and determination. These are the kind of traits that you want to see. They’re the kind of traits that get a team through the playoffs. 

Blues Bits Three-Stars of the Game:

Third Star: Vladimir Tarasenko – 1A

While Tarasenko did pick up a primary assist on Krug’s power play goal, it’s what he did off the scoresheet that was most impressive. Vladdy Daddy had an overall great game, there’s not much more to say after that. He made good passes, was smart with the puck and had a number of quality scoring chances. Hopefully, he continues at this pace for the remainder of the season. 

Second Star: Torey Krug – 1G (GWG)

Defenseman Scorey Krug did just that to open the game: score. A slick power-play one-timer off a pass from Tarasenko gave the Blues a lead that they never relinquished. Krug was solid on defense and looked very comfortable in his own end. This complemented his good offensive production, culminating in a fantastic overall game for the 31-year-old defenseman. The Blues coaching staff will look for Krug to keep producing this season on the second pair with teammate Justin Faulk.

First Star:  Jordan Binnington – 1.000 SV%, 23 Saves 

Don’t fear the reaper, it’s Binnington revenge season. Jordan Binnignton stopped all 23 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season. After sustaining a season ending injury in last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, it is extremely encouraging to see Binnignton have such a strong bounce back. The Blues netminder is currently boasting a .943% save percentage on the season and his ability to play the puck has helped the Blues defense out a ton so far this year.

Wednesday October 26. St. Louis Blues versus Edmonton Oilers

Final Score: St. Louis Blues: one – Edmonton Oilers: three

After fighting their way to four points for the standings in the pacific northwest, the Blues returned home to an energetic crowd. Despite the energy in the building, cautious Blues fans noticed the absence of Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad on the ice, two of General Manager Doug Armstrong’s biggest acquisitions in the 2021 offseason. With young Josh Leivo and Tyler Pitlick in for the veterans, cuticles began to bleed, nails began to nub and legs began to bounce. The puck hit the ice and away they went.

First Period:

The Blues defensive issues began early this time, sparing us the anxiety of wondering when they would give up the blue-line. Nick Leddy looked like a poorly-animated zombie from a low budget horror film. Dead on the ice. Defensively, the Blues couldn’t skate their way to the puck, so it was no surprise when Edmonton scored their first goal of the game. Jordan Kyrou couldn’t find his head again and Robert Thomas was a defensive liability. The pair signed contracts this summer (8.5 million x 8 years) and some fans were quick to point out the poor play from the future stars. The Blues transitioned on a high note, with good physical play in the corners and strong defensive presence. This didn’t last long enough, and the Blues would end the period giving up a chance. 1-0, bad guys.

Second Period: 

The boys got it together in the second. Good defensive play from Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko kept the Blues out of trouble. The 5-on-5 issues didn’t end though. After drawing a penalty, captain Ryan O’Reilly ended his scoring drought with a huge power-play goal in the first half of the second. Jordan Binnington looked sharper than his cup run form, keeping the game close into the final minutes of the second. The game played heavily in the middle of the ice, and the Blues managed to win plenty of puck battles against a motivated Edmonton team. 1-1, all.

Third Period:

Oh how I love to watch it all burn. Sitting in my bedroom with a bowl of popcorn and a can of soda, I was ecstatic to watch the Blues finish off their foes after a strong second period. How disappointed I was. The Blues immediately began their defensive lapse in the opening minutes of the period. Leddy and Thomas reprised their roles as giant voids in the defense. The Blues lost puck battles on the boards, lost confidence in their powerplay and seemed unable to challenge Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl when they had the puck. Binnington looked strong, but he wasn’t able to keep the goal hungry cretins known as ‘Oilers’ from scoring on him for much longer. The boys got it back together for the final five minutes, but still stumbled to score on a very impressive Stuart Skinner. Zach Hyman scored once more to finish off my hopes and dreams, and the Blues headed to the locker room, heads hung low. 3-1 final. 

Key Takeaways 

What are we doing?:

The Blues cannot seem to play defense. A lack of forward depth and injuries compounded by an offensively focused backend is tearing this team apart. The coaches need to reinforce the defensive nature of the blue-line, and get the team back in place. Leddy and Thomas looked like gaping holes on the ice, and the Blues cannot and should not expect to play well with bad defense. 

 Oh Dougie, My Dougie:

We need our boys back. Key losses in Ville Husso, Oskar Sundqvist, and David Perron (all to the Red Wings, I might add) have come to rip the team in two. Not to mention the issue of failing to sign our 4th liners to contracts that would’ve helped build our bottom line. The defensive struggles against Edmonton are largely a consequence of these losses. We’re struggling to find the pieces, and Dougie is to blame.

A German and A Canadian walk into an NHL Stadium:

The good news is that the Blues don’t have to worry about goaltending. Greiss and Binnington both look strong, and it’s likely that they’ll continue to look good in net. Don’t count the masked men out just yet. They just need a little bit of defensive presence in-front of them. Oh, and stop hanging them out to dry like a damp towel every single game. 

Blues Bits Three Stars of the Game:

First Star: My Bowl of Popcorn – Buttery goodness, and it soothes my broken heart

Second Star: Ryan O’Reilly- 1G

Third Star: Jordan Binnington – 25 SV, .926%

Thursday October 27. St. Louis Blues versus Nashville Predators

Final Score: St. Louis Blues: two – Nashville Predators: six

Pain. On Thursday, the Blues flew to the Music City to take on the Nashville Predators, and it did not go well. The Predators entered the contest having lost five games in a row, while the Blues entered this game having lost their last two. The stars had aligned for the Blues to stop their losing streak and get back on track. Matched up against a struggling divisional opponent who they historically play well against seemed like a perfect opportunity for the Blues to bounce back after a tough game against Edmonton on Wednesday. Things didn’t quite go as planned. This game was bad for numerous reasons, so let’s dive right in.

Keys Takeaways: 

The defense: 

Remember how the Blues’ defense was playing relatively well to start the year? Yeah that’s over now. The entire defensive core seemed hell-bent on bullying Blues goaltender, Thomas Greiss, this game by giving up breakaways and odd-man rushes as frequently as possible. Nobody looked good, but the already struggling second defensive pairing of Torey Krug and Justin Faulk looked particularly poor. There doesn’t appear to be an obvious solution to this problem other than praying it gets better. This defense has shown before that it can play well, but now they just need to remember the basic keys of defense before the season is over. 

Buchnevich and Saad:

The injuries to forwards Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich this past week were obviously going to negatively affect the team’s overall play, but what this game made apparent is just how much the Blues need them in order to succeed. Without the duo, the Blues don’t just struggle, they simply cannot function. The power-play misses them dearly while the defensive skill from the forward group drops tenfold with them out of the lineup. Neither the injury to Buchnevich or Saad appear to be extremely long term, so Blues fans can only hope for their speedy return to the lineup because without them, this team is dust. 

Unlucky offense: 

The Blues offense has been somewhat snake-bitten the past few games, specifically guys like Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou. Kyrou registered five shots in the game while O’Reilly nabbed three of his own. They are getting chances, the pucks just aren’t going in. That type of drought isn’t sustainable and eventually, the Blues offense will have to start scoring, or they will end up trapped in a long gruesome desert with no escape. As of right now, fans can only hope that this offensive coldspell doesn’t last much longer. 

Blues Bits Three-Stars of the Game:

Third Star: Noel Acciari

Noel Acciari wasn’t outright painful to watch, so I guess that’s where the bar is? The recently-acquired forward was able to get four shots on net as well as play a solid defensive game. With the lack of production and stability on the Blues bottom-six at the moment, it is encouraging to see a guy like Acciari play some solid hockey.

Second Star: Niko Mikkola – 2 hits

The Blues burly, 6-foot-4, Finnish defenseman played a solid game. As a defensive-defenseman, his entire job is to prevent the other team from scoring goals, and the Predators didn’t score while he was on the ice. So mission accomplished for Mikkola. The defenseman only played a tad over 13 minutes this game, but they were the least painful 13 minutes of the whole night.

First Star:  Brayden Schenn – 1G

One of the few bright spots for the Blues in this game was the performance of Brayden Schenn. The forward netted himself a sweet power-play goal midway through the second period as well as racking up possible scoring opportunities for the Blues. Schenn is known to be both a streaky goal-scorer as well as fairly injury prone due to his style of play, so it would be advantageous for the Blues to strike while the iron is hot and pick up wins while Schenn is healthy and scoring. 

Blues Bits October 31: St. Louis Blues versus Los Angeles Kings

Final Score: Los Angeles Kings 5, St. Louis Blues 1. 

Trick or Treat? The Blues seemed primed to give the red-hot L.A. Kings a trick in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. With thoughts of the possible 5-game losing streak giving trick-or-treaters the scare of the season. With Pavel Buchnevich was back for the boys in blue, the crowd began its electric hum, the puck hit the ice. Halloween hockey. 

First Period:

Meh. The Blues looked strong to open the period, but quickly traded their momentum for slouching on the blue line. Like a wet towel on a clothesline, the Blues hung goaltender Jordan Binnington out to dry. The Kings scored in the closing minutes of the period, after yet another defensive miscue from the second line. The positives were microscopic in comparison to the miscues, and the Blues quickly stomped out any optimism that had filled the empty space in the stands. 1-0, Ghouls. 

Second Period:

Sigh. The St. Louis Blues suck. The defense left Binnington open, and he wasn’t able to stop 4 of the chances the defense gave the Kings. After head coach, Craig Berube, pulled Binnington, the Blues scored to give a small burst of energy back to the bench. Despite strong play from a very active fourth line, big names like Torey Krug, Colton Parayko, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou and most notably, Ryan O’Reily looked awful. There was little skating and tough play in the corners. Very few players got physically active on the boards and defensemen seemed to think their jobs were done after intermission. 5-1, Kings. 

Third Period:

Boring. The Kings seemed out of energy, but the Blues didn’t come out of the locker room with any more vigor than they had shown in the second period. Some bright spots included Thomas Greiss, who looked strong in net. The Blues didn’t convert on power play opportunities, and lacked any toughness when entering the zone. The Blues handed out the rest of their halloween candy in the form of late chances for the Kings, and headed into the locker room to a smattering of boos. 5-1, bad guys. 

Key Takeaways:

We are not good at hockey.

The defense was lacking tonight. I’m sad, the fanbase is sad, but there’s nothing we can do about it. The Blues aren’t playing to their potential, and the forward depth isn’t what we need. Everyone needs to step up if we want to get out of this slump, and we need to get out of it fast. 

Pieces to the puzzle.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reily and Torey Krug need to go. I love Vlady, I really love ROR, but it’s time. The Blues need strong defensive pieces, and now. Jacob Chychrun? I don’t know what the solution is, but the forwards who aren’t doing much on the offensive and defensive end have no place in St. Louis. 

2019 repeats?

The Blues managed to win the cup in 2019 after being in a similar situation. I understand that this isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, but the Blues can still win. It all comes down to desire and skill. Will the Blues have enough of either? It remains to be seen. 

Blues Bits 3 Stars of the Game:

First Star: My Bowl of Halloween Candy – More appealing to the senses than Blues hockey.

Second Star: Thomas Greiss – 11 Saves, 1.000 SV%

Third Star: Alexei Toropchenko – 1G

Monday December 12: St. Louis Blues versus Nashville Predators

What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What’s the point of it all? Are the St. Louis Blues a good hockey team? These questions have baffled humanity’s greatest philosophers for centuries. On Monday, the Blues took on the Nashville Predators in the last contest of a three game home-stand. This matchup was a bit of an oddity. Seeing as how this game featured the 2022-23 St. Louis Blues, you’d expect numerous defensive breakdowns accompanied by a feeling of passive disappointment and at least four goals-against off a defenseman’s stick. But not tonight. It took until overtime for a team to score and as fortune had it, that team was the Blues. Not the prettiest way to win a hockey game, but two points is two points.

Keys Takeaways: 

Don’t overreact: When your team is as middling as the Blues have been this season, it can be easy to overreact to victories. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good win, it’s just not a great win. In some respects, this feels more like a Predators loss rather than a Blues victory. Nashville struggled immensely in this game and it still took overtime for the game to be decided. The Blues have the 32nd ranked penalty-kill in the NHL this season and the Preds went 0/4 on the power-play. The Blues PK-unit didn’t all of a sudden decide to be good, they just played a struggling Preds team. Enjoy the win, but with a few healthy teaspoons of salt.

The defense can be…competent: The defensive core has been the main thing holding the Blues back for the better part of three seasons now, but they’ve been especially bad this year. Not tonight however. The defense played well enough in front of their goaltender Jordan Binnington and were able to limit the amount of chances Nashville got in front of the net. It really shouldn’t be news that the defense put up a halfway decent effort, but that’s the world we live in as Blues fans. If the defense can keep playing like this, maybe the Blues can pick up a few more wins this season and General Manager Doug Armstrong won’t have to blow up the core come July.

The offense needs to stop being nonexistent: Hooray! The defense finally played well and we got solid goaltending too! This is great, except *checks notes* the offense did literally nothing the entire game. God forid the Blues do everything well at once. Don’t let the stats deceive you, this wasn’t a dominant game from Predators goalie Juuse Saros. Saros saved 23/24 Blues shots and helped kill three Blues power-plays, but his workload was pretty light as far as actual scoring chances go. Some of the Blues big guns in Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas and Ryan O’Reilly were only able to muster one shot, combined. Jordan Kyrou was able to get five shots on net but that was all from the offensive front. The Blues offensive woes should be helped when forward Pavel Buchnevich returns from injury but something else needs to be figured out in the meantime. 

Blues Bits Three-Stars of the Game:

Third Star: Jordan Kyrou

Jordan Kyrou is often heralded as the savior of Blues hockey and games like this are why. No goals, no assists, no big fights, but a very solid effort. A handful of slick passes and some decent shots on goal are all it really takes to stand out in the Blues current offense. Kyrou was able to use his elite speed and his high end skill to lead the Blues offense, unfortunately nothing went in the net for him but he won’t get that unlucky every time. Now everyone else just needs to start playing like Kyrou and the Blues are set. 

Second Star: Torey Krug

Blues media have been using Torey Krug as a scapegoat for months now and it’s not entirely undeserved. The 31-year-old defenseman has been very, very, very not good this season. I guess he had enough of the criticism because this game acted as hopefully the first act of a redemption for Krug. He contributed on offense with three shots and an assist on Brayden Schenn’s game-winning-goal. Krug also didn’t turn the puck over needlessly and he played well in his own end. This type of play is why Armstrong signed Krug to that massive seven-year, $45 million contract back in 2020. Here’s hoping that he can keep this up.

First Star:  Jordan Binnington

Guess who’s back? It’s like he never left. Jordan Binnington, after an abysmal start to the month that saw him benched for backup Thomas Greiss, was finally ready to reclaim his net. The $6 million man was sitting at 99 career wins before the contest, Binnington stopped all 25 shots he faced including a rocket slap shot from Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm that briefly wounded the Blues netminder. Binningtons first career win on Jan. 7 2019 was a 25-save-shutout and now his 100th career win is a 25-save-shutout. How poetic. Binningtons poor play in early December isn’t the only reason that the Blues have struggled, but it certainly helps to have him playing well again. 

Blues Bits January 30: St. Louis Blues versus Winnipeg Jets

Final Score: Jets 4, Blues 2

After four disappointing losses in a row, the Blues headed north to play a red-hot Winnipeg team. Headed by a stunningly rejuvenated Mark Schiefle, the Jets looked to further their playoff spot by pounding a now tanking Blues team into the ground. With Vladimir Tarasenko recently off Injured Reserve, and his all-important trade request on the line, all eyes were on the Blue note as they took on the Jets. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see. It took just 21 seconds for the Jets to take a 2-1 deficit and turn it into a 3-2 lead. The Blues fell victim to their fifth straight loss, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. 

First Period:

The Blues opened strong. Goalie Jordan Binnington kept the score tied with an impressive performance in net, keeping everything out of the crease. The defense didn’t make it easy, and Justin Faulk was caught fishing for Connor Bedard. The young forwards, eager to please their overlord in General Manager Doug Armstrong, provided a spark of energy that kept the game alive. The Jets looked sluggish in the corners, and the Blues classic Hitchcockian strategy of “dump-and-chase” won most battles for the entry. 0-0 all. 

Second Period:

Hallelujah! Jake Neighbours converts a beautiful goal on the powerplay, a backhander over the glove side of Jet’s Goalie Connor Hellebyuck. That was, of course, after 16 minutes of non-stop barrage by the Jets. Binnington got hit with so much artillery that his helmet started to smoke. The Jets had racked up 15 shots before the Blues managed to get any meaningful chances in return. However, Binnington once again stood on his head like a circus act, stopping everything flung at him (with help from his trusty post, of course). The Blues emerged from their powerplay fueled euphoria to realize that they still had another period of hockey to play. 1-0, good guys.

 Third Period:

 Well, it was nice while it lasted. Nikita Alexandrov managed to demolish a shot past Hellebyuck to give the Blues a 2-0 lead. It took 21 seconds for the Jets to go up 3-2. Both Torey Krug and Faulk gave up softballs that left Binnington out to dry. Sure, he could’ve stopped the pucks, but if the D-men had done their job, it wouldn’t have even gotten past the blue line. The Jets put the icing on the tank by scoring another with 5 minutes to go, leading 4-2. Binnington, visibly frustrated, was unable to stop the shot from up close. Despite their struggles, the young forwards again perked up when down, giving hope that the Blues would drum up some sort of miracle. It didn’t happen. 4-2 Jets. 

 Key Takeaways:

 Embrace the tank

Connor Bedard, baby! The Blues aren’t doing much right, and it’s time to reset. Give the veterans a rest, and play the AHL guys who need experience in the Big Leagues. If you win games, you win games. If you don’t, so be it. Just a bigger chance to go first overall in the draft lottery. It’ll hurt, but oh, well. 

Defensive Swiss Cheese

Have you ever tried to use swiss cheese to stop a puck from going into the net? Me neither, but Faulk seems to think he’s some sort of dairy product. His sneakily bad season continues. Multiple defensive miscues resulted in nasty goals for the Jets, and he hasn’t proven the value that we saw last season. Trade block? No. But it’s time for him to get pulled aside at practice.

The Zest of Life is Young Hockey Players

Alexandrov and Neighbours. Need I say more? They’ve energized that bottom six, and I hope it doesn’t stop. A look at the future tonight gives me more hope than I thought it would, even if I did think we could snag a win. If Bedard joins those ranks, who knows what could happen? Stay hopeful, Blues fans. 

 Blues Bits 3-Stars of the Game:

First Star: Connor Bedard – Tank for him please I’m begging

Second Star: Jordan Binnington – 35 SV, .921 SV%

Third Star: Jake Neighbours – 1G, 1A

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