The St. Louis Blues have played forty-three games so far this season, which means the 2021-22 campaign is just over halfway complete. As we approach the league’s All-Star break, the Blues are sitting pretty in the second spot in the Central Division, as well as the Western Conference overall. While most fans in St. Louis expected the club to once again compete for the Stanley Cup, the team has exceeded the expectations of many national and international pundits so far this season.
While the team as a whole was expected to shine as a collective unit, how they got to this point has been full of surprises. From the rise of young players, the resurgence of once fading stars, and a potential goaltending controversy, the 2021-22 season has provided plenty of excitement for those that support the blue and gold. It’s time to take a look at who has shone the brightest for the Blues halfway through the campaign.
Hart Trophy (MVP)
The team’s most valuable player award surely must go to the club’s lone All-Star selection, winger Jordan Kyrou. In what can only be described as a breakout season, the twenty-three-year-old forward has tallied 17 goals and 25 assists through 39 games played, making him the only forward on the team who is averaging over a point per game, although Vladimir Tarasenko is at 39 points in 39 games in what has been a renaissance season for the Russian.
THAT'S OUR ALL-STAR ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/cAn2Dq5UoF
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 28, 2022
Since being drafted by the Blues in the 2nd round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, high expectations have followed Kyrou, who after putting up massive numbers in juniors as well as some seasoning in the American Hockey League, has lived up to those expectations. Each season, he has become a more complete player offensively and has now asserted himself as the Blues’ most dangerous forward.
MVPs play at their best when the spotlight is on them and Kyrou passed that test on January 1 when he set the Winter Classic record with a four-point performance in the league’s marquee regular-season event. On a team whose strength is its offensive depth, Kyrou has stood out the most and is deserving of the team’s MVP award halfway through the season.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)
The best defenseman for the Blues so far this season is more contentious than MVP, but the slight edge goes to Justin Faulk. Through 37 games played, Faulk has amassed 6 goals and 18 points, which is above average but not elite. However, it’s Faulk’s two-way play that earns him this award. While it is not a perfect statistic, it is worth noting that Faulk leads the Blues in plus/minus at an impressive +27 rating, which is seven goals better than his closest teammate.
From power play to penalty kill to even strength, Faulk is depended on in all situations for St. Louis and has provided a steady presence for a backend that has not been as solid as recent years. After a rough debut season for the Blues in 2019-20, Faulk has settled in as a key piece for a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender)
Now, this is where it gets juicy. Fresh off signing a six-year extension, Jordan Binnington was expected to carry the load once again in 2021-22. However, it is undeniable that the team’s best goaltending this season has come from Ville Husso. The twenty-six-year-old Helsinki, Finland native sports an impressive 9-2-1 record to go along with a minuscule 1.81 goals-against average through 13 starts.
While the team’s defense has struggled at times this season, it’s worth noting that the team tends to play much more sound defensively when Husso is between the pipes. Set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, it will be interesting to see how the Blues deploy their two goaltenders down the stretch of this season. If you look at the contracts, it’s clear that Binnington should be getting a majority of the starts. However, if both players’ current run of form continues, Husso very well may be the team’s starter come playoff time.
Main image credit: