After one Covid marred season followed by another season completely messed up by Covid as well, the NHL is finally back to some sense of normalcy. Two years removed from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues look to return to something normal for them as well: winning.
The Blues are off to the best start in franchise history with a 5-0 record. As of the publishing of this article, they are one of only four teams with a perfect record. The other three are the Oilers, Panthers, and Hurricanes. It’s an impressive start to what is already shaping up to be a successful season.
The historic start is one thing. How they are doing it is another. The Blues have come out of the gate this season with a fire that hasn’t been seen since their Stanley Cup run. They are playing faster, smarter, and more physical hockey. And they’re not just relying on one or two guys to get it done.
Formerly disgruntled forward and assistant captain Vladimir Tarasenko has come out of the gate on fire. Finally healthy, he is skating faster and stronger than he has in years. Tarasenko has looked very good in the early going with three goals and three assists. And he has company joining him.
Twelve different players have scored goals in the team‘s five games thus far, including goals from Doug Armstrong’s biggest offseason acquisitions. Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad both have a goal and an assist. So does rookie sensation Jake Neighbours.
The 19-year old rookie has been so impressive that he’s been moved all around, playing as high as the second line so far this season. Head Coach Craig Berube has been mixing and matching and finding the right combinations to make it work.
And oh, how those combinations are working. The Blues currently sport a +14 goal differential, tied with Carolina for second best in the league. The Blues have been solid on the forecheck, quick to rally defensively, and have absolutely killed it on the power play. They are currently second on the power play at 37.5% and lead the league on the penalty kill at 93.8%.
The bottom line? The Blues are playing the best all-around hockey that this city has seen since they hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup. If they keep this up, we may just see them holding it up again at the season’s end.
Brian Swope is an editor and staff writer for Gateway City Sports. He is also the host of the YakkerJacks podcast.