The St. Louis Blues began their scheduled bye week on Monday and entered it in much better position in the standings than they were a few weeks ago. Sitting on the outside of the playoff picture in late January, the Blues now sit in third place in the Central Division, two points ahead of the Nashville Predators.
But while the team has vastly improved under new coaching, this past week showed there are still some areas the team can work on.
Mike Yeo continued his success as the team’s new head coach this week, as the Blues swept their first road trip under him. They finished off the trip with a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 15. Carter Hutton earned himself another shutout, his fourth in six starts, and made 25 saves. Two Blues rookies also proved themselves to Blues fans, as rookie Ivan Barbashev scored his second goal of the season and fellow first-year player Kenny Agostino got the primary assist.
That wasn’t the last time Barbashev found his way onto the scoresheet last week. When the team headed home to face the Vancouver Canucks the next night, Barbashev received the secondary assist on Magnus Paajarvi’s early goal in a 4-3 victory.
Even though the Blues were able to pick up a win, the game against the Canucks showed starting goalie Jake Allen isn’t completely over his season-long struggles. He allowed three goals on 21 shots and posted a .857 save percentage.
Kevin Shattenkirk, who has been swirling around trade rumors all season, had three assists on the night.
On Saturday, the Blues’ six-game winning streak was snapped when they traveled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Despite a late short-handed goal from Scottie Upshall, the Blues were unable to beat Sabres goalie Robin Lehner one more time to force overtime and fell 3-2.
Two days later, the club returned home to take on the red-hot Florida Panthers, who came in riding a four-game winning streak.
The Blues played another tight game, but like the game before, St. Louis did not quite have enough in the tank. After the Panthers went up 1-0 in the first period and the two teams played a scoreless second, Blues forward Kyle Brodziak scored less than three minutes into the third period to tie the game.
With 4.6 seconds remaining in regulation, the game looking as though it was destined for overtime, Panthers center Vincent Trocheck put the puck in the back of the net with a slapshot redirect through a Jussi Jokinen screen that concluded the game, sending the Blues into their bye week on a two-game losing skid.
With five days off before their next game, the Blues sent Barbashev and Paajarvi down to the AHL on Tuesday morning to give them opportunities to play with the Chicago Wolves, St. Louis’ minor league affiliate.
On Wednesday afternoon, Barbashev left in the first period of a Wolves loss to the Cleveland Monsters with an upper-body injury and did not return. St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Jeremy Rutherford said in a tweet that the injury is not considered serious. An update on Barbashev is expected to come in over the next few days.
The Blues will face their division rival the Chicago Blackhawks when they resume play on Sunday. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBCSN and is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
Edited by Eli Lederman | firstname.lastname@example.org