A few hours away from the Blues’ game at Arizona, here are a few stats, stances and sentiments. 

Five Minutes For Scribing: 

1–In their two wins over the Coyotes Friday-Saturday, the Blues got goals from seven different players, assists from 12 players, and points from 14 guys. The term “depth” is thrown around too often, but the Blues have it. 

Before Saturday’s game, forward Jaden Schwartz (lower body) became the latest Blue stricken by injury. He joined Tyler Bozak, Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais, Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Marco Scandella on the list of unavailable Blues. And others — especially forward Oskar Sundqvist — are pushing through the pain to keep on playing. 

“Obviously to get the contributions throughout the lineup is why this team is as strong as it is,” said forward Mike Hoffman, after he’d scored the winner in Saturday’s 5-4 OT victory. “If some guys aren’t going one night, other guys will pick up their slack. That’s what you saw here tonight, goals throughout the lineup and that’s what makes us a good team.”

2–With the two wins in Glendale, the Blues are 6-1 on the road this season. Their road points percentage of .857 that ranks third among the 31 NHL teams. The Blues’ travelers have outscored home teams 23-12 at even strength. That 65.7% goal share at even ice is No. 2 in the NHL, a sliver behind Montreal. The Blues can go to 7-1 on the road and make it three in a row at Arizona today at 3 p.m. STL time. 

3–All hail Ryan O’ Reilly. He’s a bearded man possessed. Perhaps he was a little too pressurized at the start of the season as he acclimated to the official role of team captain. But in his last eight games, O’Reilly has 4 goals and 5 assists and is a plus 11. When O’Reilly has been doing his thing at even strength over the last eight games, the Blues have outscored the bad guys 12-1 and controlled 57 percent of the shots on goal. Through the same eight-game stretch O’Reilly has logged more overall ice time than any Blues forward (averaging 21:21 per game.) He’s also put in the most time of any Blue on the penalty kill, and is No. 2 among the team forwards in power-play time. Oh, yeah: he’s also won 64% of his faceoffs. O’Reilly plays with a tusk. 

4–Update on Hoffman in his last six games: 4 goals, 2 assists, +4, and 23 shots on goal. He’s feeling it. 

5–In the two dubyas at Arizona the defensive pairing of Vince Dunn and Robert Bortuzzo was sharp and controlling. When the duo was on the ice at even strength the Blues controlled 73.7% of the shot attempts, 62% of the shots on goal, and 82.3% of the scoring chances. 

6–Until recently the Blues’ overall fourth-line play had measured up as a disappointment. But a combination of injuries and line juggling created a fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Jacob de La Rose and MacKenzie MacEachern. And the reordered has played very well at even strength in the last three games In 19:16 of even-ice time, the triad helped the Blues control 63% of the shots on goal, and carved out an 8-5 edge on scoring chances. And though it’s a small sample, their 62% Corsi rating (shot attempts) over the three games established a new standard for the Blues’ fourth-line play. Here’s what I’m talking about: the initial go-to fourth line of Ivan Barbashev, Sundqvist and Clifford has played 64:18 at even strength this season. The results: an abysmal 35.3 percent Corsi, with only 37.5% of the shots on goal, and 37% of the scoring chances. What we saw — at least for two games — from the revised fourth line.

7–Through 15 games, Justin Faulk ranks third among NHL defensemen with 5 goals (all situations.) But he’s second among league D-man with 4 goals at 5-on-5. In all situations Faulk is 12th at the position in most minutes played and ranks 5th in hits. Most important: when Faulk is on the ice at even strength, the Blues have outscored opponents 25-9. With Faulk out there at 5v5, the Blues have outscored opponents 21-6 and have 57% of the shots on goal. The dude is very, very good. 

8–Related note: Faulk’s minutes warrant attention. Departed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo averaged 24:05 of ice time per game in 2018-2019 and 24”11 last season. So far this season Faulk is pretty much right there, averaging 23:47. Faulk is replacing the Petro minutes load, and that’s just a part of his increasingly obvious value. 

9–Stay safe, stay warm, enjoy the hockey game … and if you go outside, be careful with those snowball fights. May all of your hot chocolate be hot and sweet and topped by little marshmallow pillows. For adults that are so inclined, an enhancement of Bailey’s poured into the hot chocolate is optional on ALL snow days. 

10–Personal note: Today I’m thinking of the late, great Betty Lee Andrews Miklasz. She gave birth to me 62 years ago today. I arrived at about 3:30 p.m. a little earlier than anticipated — so I made deadline in plenty of time. She made the best crab cakes and fried chicken and always encouraged me to write. The first thing I ever wrote was a stapled together “book” about a little boy who saw a baseball glove in a store window, dreamed of having the glove, and was sad when the glove was no longer in the window. That’s because the little boy’s Mom had bought it for him, wrapped it up, and gave him a wonderful surprise gift. I was 8 years old when I wrote that. Love you Mom.

Thanks for reading…

–B

Listen to Bernie’s 590-AM The Fan KFNS sports-talk show weekdays from 3-6 p.m. (except Friday, 4-6 p.m.) Or stream online (and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com

 

Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.