The St. Louis Blues have taken on a new identity in the 2021-2022 season, as the team continues to pick up victories by excelling offensively.
I cannot remember a time in recent history when the offense of the Blues was the reason that the team was finding success. For years, it has felt like St. Louis had been a defensive team, and its unstable goal scoring was often a detriment to its championship hopes.
Yet, when I watched the Winter Classic earlier this month, and the Blues struck for six goals, including five in the second period alone, I saw a team that seemed to have some offensive swagger. Established and rising stars alike are chipping in for St. Louis, and it gives the team a level of offensive consistency that it has lacked in the past.
Having a well-rounded team that can win in different ways is key to winning the Stanley Cup, and seeing the Blues play as that type of team was an eye-opener for me. Now, I firmly believe that this franchise could be poised for a deep playoff run.
The Blues are winning with offense.
On the season, St. Louis is scoring 3.5 goals per game, which ranks fifth in the NHL. In the same vein, the Blues’ power play unit ranks second in the league, converting on 29.4% of its opportunities.
In terms of individual contributions, St. Louis has three players producing at least a point per game: Jordan Kyrou (41 points in 37 games), Vladimir Tarasenko (38 points in 37 games), and Pavel Buchnevich (36 points in 35 games). The 41 points accumulated by Kyrou this season have him tied for 21st in the NHL.
In other areas of the game, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug each find themselves in the NHL’s top ten in plus/minus this year. Faulk carries a plus-25 rating (fourth), while Krug is a plus-20 (tied for tenth). In addition, captain Ryan O’Reilly is ninth in the league in faceoff win percentage, controlling the puck on 56.67% of his draws.
The offense caught my eye as something different for the Blues this year, but that doesn’t mean that the defense has faltered. St. Louis allows only 2.6 goals per game, which is the fourth-best mark in the league. Its penalty killing unit is also fourth, clicking at 85.3%.
So, the offense is one of the best in the NHL, as is the defense, yet the Blues still have room for improvement, which is part of the reason that I’m optimistic about this group. Starting goaltender Jordan Binnington, a Stanley Cup champion who was dominant during the Blues’ 2019 run, is still not playing his best hockey.
His save percentage is .906, and his goals against average is 3.05, which tells me that there is plenty of room to improve. If he is able to do that, there will be no part of St. Louis’ game that is lacking, and they could become one of the favorites in the Western Conference.
I did not expect the Blues to contend for a playoff spot, let alone a championship 2022. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that St. Louis would be succeeding thanks to its offense this season. Nevertheless, that is exactly what has happened through the club’s first half of this campaign, and if you haven’t yet, you should acknowledge this team as a legitimate Stanley Cup threat.
The offense of the Blues has become dangerous, and if the second half of the season looks anything like the first half, St. Louis may be seriously contending for a second championship in four seasons.