Blues Look to Carry Hot Streak Into Playoffs
As the NHL season winds down, the St. Louis Blues are hitting their stride at just the right time. The Blues season started off shaky, and the team was dead last in the NHL as recently as January 3rd. However, the team flipped a switch in late January and had an 11-game win streak from January 23rd to February 19th. The team also went 12-2 over the entire month of February. The Blues have clinched a playoff spot and are currently poised to win or tie for the lead in the Central division. These last couple games could be important for playoff positioning, but this team looks promising as they have heated up right when it matters most.
While most know Vladimir Tarasenko as the biggest star of the St. Louis Blues, arguably the team’s most important contributor this season has been center Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly was an offseason acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres and has been the team’s most consistent player all season long. He currently leads the team with 74 points and can be a threat with his shooting or his passing, as he leads the team with 47 assists. While Tarasenko got off to a slower start, he is second on the team with 64 total points split evenly between assists and goals. The Blues also benefit from having a deep list of contributors on the team, with nine different players having at least 30 points this season.
Since the Blues have been a league-average team in most offensive statistics this year, they have relied on great defense and goal tending to carry them back from the bottom of the standings. A primary source for the team’s resurgence has come from rookie goalie Jordan Binnington. Binnington made headlines right out of the gate with a shutout in his first NHL start. He has played in 30 games this season and has a 22-5-1 record over that span and also holds a 1.85 goals against average. While this is a somewhat small sample size, his goals against average is top in the league and he is also ranked third in save percentage. The Blues rank fifth in the league as a team for goals against, and will need to keep this up if they want to go deep into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if the rookie goalie can keep up this spectacular play when the games truly matter.
Beyond Calgary obviously finishing first in the Western conference standings, seeding heading into the playoffs is still a tossup. Four points separate the second through sixth seed teams in the West and the final rankings could be crucial for first round matchups. The Blues have been hot for most of 2019 and have been able to rattle off streaks of wins when they really need it, so moving up to a higher seed in these last few games could help secure their chances of moving to the second round. Regardless of placement, the Blues look to carry this hot finish into the first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history.