— The NHL has finally consented and allowed the Blues to play regular-season hockey games. Two, to be exact … the fewest by a Western Conference team. Eight teams in the West already have played either four or five games. Given their laughable amount of inactivity, I don’t know why we would expect the Blues to be sharp and on top of their game. Practice is just that … practice. Nothing can substitute for the real thing … the real games. In this context it’s good to see the Blues get off to a positive start with wins over Columbus and Seattle. Coach Berube wants his boys to cut down on turnovers, and they’ll have to sharpen up a bit. They’ve had too many lapses in the second period of their two games. But rust didn’t prevent the Blues from passing their first two tests and earning four points, and that’s encouraging.
— Jordan Binnington stopped 32 of 35 shots in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory at Seattle and looks fantastic so far, posting a .917 save percentage overall, and a .914 rate at five-on-five. Binnington technically allowed five goals in two games, but in no way was he responsible for at least two, and probably three, of the scores. Binnington has been at his best when facing the most perilous shots, making saves on 12 of 13 high-danger chances (all strengths) in his two games. His .923 save percentage on those HD shots ranks sixth among NHL goaltenders. Bravo.
— Justin Faulk scored two goals against the Kraken including the OT winner. The underrated Faulk continues to be a reliable scoring source for the Blues. Since the start of last season, Faulk leads all NHL defensemen with 14 goals at five-on-five and is tied for fourth among defensemen with 38 points. Playing at all strengths, Faulk has 18 goals since the beginning of last season. That’s tied for fourth with John Carlson. Only Cale Makar (28), Roman Josi (23) and Victor Hedman (20) have more all-strengths goals than Faulk among the league’s defensemen over the last two seasons.
Faulk is a plus 44 since the start of last season, fourth-best among NHL defensemen over that time. Since the start of last season, when Faulk has been on the ice at five-on-five, the Blues have outscored opponents 95–54 for a 63.76 percent goal share that’s sixth best among NHL defensemen.
— Tarasenko! Tarasenko! He’s flying with two goals and three assists for five points in the Blues first two games. I’m sure most of us believed he’d be determined to make the most of what will likely be his final season with the Blues before his free-agency opportunity comes his way next summer. In the first two games, the Blues have outscored opponents 6-1 (all strengths) with Tarasenko and linemate Robert Thomas on the ice.
Thomas centered Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich in the win over CBJ. With Buchnevich (lower-body injury) out of the lineup at Seattle, Brayden Schenn joined RT and VT. In Wednesday’s victory Tarasenko had three assists, Thomas had two assists, and Schenn had a goal and an assist. The Blues have many line combinations that can work well.
— The recently minted Robert Thomas has asserted himself with three assists in his first two games. He was really strong in the win over the Kraken, playing 21 minutes to lead STL forwards. Thomas won 61 percent of his faceoffs and set up two goals, including the winner. Kudos to Tarasenko for making a nifty decision to pass the puck to Faulk … while looming in front of the Seattle net. The great read by Tarasenko caught Kraken goaltender Martin Jones by surprise and Jones wasn’t ready for Faulk’s shot.
— It’s early but the Blues are showing the kind of scoring depth that generated 3.77 goals per game last season – an average ranked No. 3 in the NHL. I don’t know if the Blues will have nine forwards score at least 20 goals again, just like last season. But in the first two games the Blues have gotten goals from seven players. Small sample, but the Blues averaged 4.42 goals per 60 minutes (all strengths) in their first two games. That’s third-best in the league so far. This early in the season that doesn’t mean much. But the abundant scoring just fits into the Blues’ positive launch to the new campaign, and that’s all you can hope for.
Thanks for reading …
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All stats used here were sourced from NaturalStatTrick, Hockey Reference and Evolving Hockey.