Frustration can be a great fuel for motivation. Last season's exciting start gave Blues fans high expectations, but a combination of inconsistent play and lack of heart seemed to erase whatever momentum the team began.
Blues hockey has been over for a couple months and I still can’t get over Brayden Schenn’s season. Even if he didn’t lead the team in points (which he did), at least the Blues weren’t paying Jori Lehtera $4.7 million to be outscored by Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak.
Predicting how the St. Louis Blues will play is undoubtedly one of the hardest tasks. Throughout the season we've seen slumps and streaks followed by streaks then slumps. The Blues are 9-1-1 this month with a current winning streak of six games. With six games remaining in the season, here are Peter Hempstead's (@petehempstead) game-by-game predictions followed by a few general predictions.
Hockey is back. Early injuries began to scrape optimism from fans, but the Blues are off to a great start. Here are Blues Buzz’s season predictions
Five Blues players are injured and the season hasn’t even started yet. Robby Fabbri’s big return will need to wait another season. Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund, Zach Sanford, and Jay Bouwmeester are the other impaired. Holes need to be filled, so here are our projected lineups.
There has been quite a bit of chatter about rule changes for the upcoming 2017-2018 NHL season, especially with the first batch of pre-season games in the rearview mirror. More specifically, chatter about a new rule involving faceoffs, and stricter enforcement of slashing penalties that will leave many seasoned hockey fans perplexed at the number of whistles being blown this season. Let’s take a second to break down what has changed, what we can expect that to mean for the Blues, and what is going on in the minds of Stephen Walkom (VP and Director of Officiating for the NHL) and his boss, Colin Campbell (Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL).
In classic Blues fashion, two players have been injured before the season starts. With a deep selection of substitutes, here are my guesses on who'll fill Zach Sanford and Jay Bouwmeesters' spots.
Brayden Schenn could become the second-line centerman the Blues have been desperately searching for. And if not, at least they aren't paying Lehtera $4.7 million to be outscored by Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak. Schenn brings versatility to the Blues with his ability to play left wing and center.
Robby Fabbri’s return continues to excite St. Louis as we inch closer to opening night. The young forward suffered a season-ending injury after an impressive rookie season, but he's ready to slide back into the Blues’ lineup.
During "Free Agent Frenzy", the St. Louis Blues signed enforcer Chris Thorburn to a two-year, $900k AAV contract. Here are some highlights from his 12 years in the National Hockey League.
Blues fans were tired of Jori Lehtera's high-cost pay for subpar play, but the loss of a fan favorite fourth-liner was hard to swallow. Doug Armstrong and the St. Louis Blues weren't messing around at the 2017 NHL Draft this past weekend.
Correlation is not causation. It is important to remember this when evaluating statistical evidence. The St. Louis Blues won game three in the first round of the playoffs today against the Minnesota Wild. With three games in the book the series is starting to take shape, statistically speaking. One important statistic has emerged thus far overlooked in evaluations of this year’s playoff matchups.
Zach Sanford played over Jori Lehtera in Friday night’s Game 2 against the Wild. Mike Yeo thinks he’s improving as his confidence grows, and Sanford is grateful the Blues are giving him a chance he wasn't given in Washington.
Photo: Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports
Ivan Barbashev, who’s been playing with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz on the Blues’ top line, is a rookie. A few months ago he was playing for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. While he was nervous for his first playoff matchup (Game 1), he gave Sanford some advice.
“I was a little nervous, but not too bad,” explained Sanford. “I was actually talking to Barbie before the game a little bit and he was like ‘Yeah I was pretty nervous too, but once you get those first two shifts in you’ll be fine’.”
Sanford was traded to the Blues from Washington in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade. As a Capital, he played 26 games and recorded three points. As a Blue, he’s played 13 games and earned 5 points.
“Honestly, I had no clue what to expect here,” said Sanford. “I didn’t know if I’d be here or Chicago or what. I think it’s worked out well and I’ve got pretty comfortable here, which is good."
“A lot of games there (Washington), I was playing fourth line—8 or 9 minutes. Getting that chance to play on the third line for 12 or 13 minutes, some power-play time… I think, just getting those touches and being out there more has helped with my confidence and how comfortable I feel.”
He credits this growth in confidence to why his game has elevated here in St. Louis.
Coach Mike Yeo also thinks Sanford’s game is evolving, and he’s impressed with the way he’s conducting himself as a young, inexperienced player.
“I liked Sanny’s game,” said Yeo of Sanford's performance in Game 2. “He’s a big body with speed, and for a young kid playing in his first playoff game on the road against a team like that… For him to play that way is pretty impressive.”
Yeo said he had a conversation with Lehtera yesterday. He liked how Game 2’s lineup looked, and said not to expect change. While Yeo credits the scratches (Yakupov, Lehtera, Jaskin, Schmaltz) for helping the Blues get to where they are today, Sanford is likely to remain in the lineup over Lehtera in Game 3.
The Blues lost in heartbreaking fashion in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Flames. With the intent of a two-point rebound, they hosted the Arizona Coyotes in their final matchup of the three-game homestand.
Jake Allen and the red-hot Blues battled Brian Elliott and the Calgary Flames for the second game of their three-game handstand. Both teams were fighting for playoff positions
The St. Louis Blues returned home with four wins from their five-game road trip. Before facing the Canucks, they were 8-1-0 in their last nine games. With the win, their confidence continues to grow.
The St. Louis Blues battled the New York Islanders in the second game of their back-to-back homestead. They looked to improve their winning streak to four games.
When Blues fans heard prominent forward Robby Fabbri was out for the remainder of the season due to an ACL injury, all hell broke loose.
Mike Yeo and his St. Louis Blues hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs after head coach Ken Hitchcock was released of his duties.
The St. Louis Blues lost a talented defenseman Tuesday morning when the Nashville Predators claimed Brad Hunt off of waivers.
I spent last weekend at Busch Stadium with press credentails to the Alumni Game and Winter Classic. Since it was a once in a lifetime event for me, I recorded as much as I could.
After an ugly road trip, the Blues returned to their beloved Scottrade Center to host the New Jersey Devils and continue their success at home
After dropping a six-game homestand winning streak on Saturday night, the Blues hosted the red-hot Canadiens before heading on a road trip.
After a thrilling shootout victory Saturday night, the St. Louis Blues hosted the Dallas Stars in their second match-up of a five-game homestand.
The St. Louis Blues started their five-game homestand with a Central Division battle against the Minnesota Wild. They looked for another victory after winning four of their last five.