I write about teams when they’re hot. It seems to be my thing. Right now, that honor doesn’t belong to the Bruins in Boston, nor the Flyers in Philly. It’s not even the Bolts down in Tampa (they ridiculous, tho…). Nahhh, it’s the winged music note in eastern Missouri. The St. Louis Blues have now won ten (10!!) straight games, finding themselves in a division playoff spot, 4 points ahead of any Wild Card team. The most impressive part of the win streak, though, is the fact that eight of the ten games have come on the road. Talk about getting ready for the playoffs. I love it!
From Square One
Now, I don’t know if you remember or not, but wayyyy back at the beginning of the year, the Blues fired their then-head coach, Mike Yeo. They started the season 7-9-3, and on November 20th, the organization had enough. The night before, the Blues had dropped a 2-0 game to the LA Kings, the only team behind them in the NHL standings. ‘Twas all she wrote for Yeo, who was shown the door with the future looking bleak for St. Louis fans.
Craig Berube hopped in to replace Yeo in a temporary manner. Temporary or not, the Blues have to like what they’ve gotten from Berube. Certainly, compared to Yeo. The team is playing like a team again, and they look 180 degrees different than they did just two months ago. Ryan O’Reilly has led the way this year with 60 points to his name (22G, 38A). Vladimir Tarasenko is the front runner as far as goal scoring with 26 goals, and his 51 points are good for second on the team behind O’Reilly. For a team that had to start back at square one almost twenty games into the season, the Blues have done fairly well for themselves.
It Starts In the Paint
The backbone of the Blues’ current win streak, especially recently, has been the performances they have gotten between the pipes. Jake Allen has received a majority of the workload this season, with 37 games started. Allen has accumulated a W-L of 17-15-4 this year, with two shutouts, a GAA just under three at 2.98, and a save percentage at .901. Now, those numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, but we have to consider the fact that St. Louis was absolutely dreadful at the start of the season. Also, it helps when you have a backup in Jordan Binnington.
Binnington, at the ripe age of 25, has started 14 games this year. Ready for his numbers? 12-1-1, four shutouts… FOUR SHUTOUTS… a GAA at 1.58 and a .937 save percentage. How about that for a backup? I’m no expert on goalie lineups, but something is telling me he’ll have a shot at being starter very soon, whether that’s in Missouri or elsewhere. These goalies have combined to provide the Blues with shutouts in their last 3 games (streak still going strong), and four total over the 10-game win streak (all on the road).
Blues Might Be For Real
When the Sabres went on their ten-game win streak, I warned the world that they were NOT for real. You’re welcome. However, I think this may be a different case. Now, first things first. Yes, the streak will end at 10. I know they’re back home, but the Leafs are going to want to put St. Louis in their place, and I think they will do just that. Binnington is, as I write this, expected to start in net for the Blues tonight, so I’ll be interested to see how he is able to handle the high powered attack that is Toronto. Although I see Toronto winning this game, I think the Blues can gain some real momentum if they play the Leafs to a tight contest.
It’s helping St. Louis that they reside in the West, which is a lot less competitive as far as the last few playoff spots are concerned compared to the East. As a matter of fact, their 67 team points wouldn’t even be good enough for a current playoff spot out East. However, that’s neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is, they are in the West. And in the West, the Blues are, right now, going to the playoffs. They need to focus on keeping that postseason mentality going forward, and I think they can raise some eyebrows in the PST. Will they make a trade deadline move for a playoff push? A lot of reasons to stay tuned to this team. I know I will.
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