The St. Louis Blues are well on their way to yet another Stanley Cup Playoff berth, which is something that has become the baseline expectation year in and year out in St. Louis. The team’s recent success has been largely built by strong defensive play and scoring by the committee. While the Blues’ defense has been subject to criticism at times this season, the offense has been nothing short of spectacular. The 2021-22 edition of the Blues has taken the scoring by committee approach to the next level.
For the first time since the 1984-85 season, the Blues have seven players with at least twenty goals scored this season. At the time of writing, that number leads the entire NHL. The team has been at or near the top in goals per game and power-play percentage all season and has done so without a top ten player in the league. None of the Blues forwards are being discussed as candidates for major individual awards at the end of the season, but the strength of the group is the sum of its parts and it has made for an exciting year of hockey in St. Louis.
With thirteen games remaining in the regular season, the players with at least twenty goals are:
- Vladimir Tarasenko – 25
- Pavel Buchnevich – 24
- David Perron – 23
- Jordan Kyrou – 22
- Ivan Barbashev – 22
- Brayden Schenn – 20
- Brandon Saad – 20
Most of the names are not complete surprises, however, it is interesting to look at how each player got there. Before the season, it was unclear whether Tarasenko would ever play another game in St. Louis, yet he has responded with a bounce-back campaign, leading the team in goals and is one point back from the team lead in scoring. Both Perron and Schenn have battled injuries this season and have still found a way to reach the twenty-goal mark. The offseason additions of Buchnevich and Saad have both been slam dunks by Blues President and General Manager Doug Armstrong, with Buchnevich setting a career-high in both goals and points and Saad providing supplemental scoring and a Stanley Cup pedigree. If that wasn’t enough offensive firepower, breakout seasons from Kyrou and Barbashev have been the icing on the cake for Blues fans. Kyrou has ascended to league-wide notoriety after earning his first All-Star nod and winning the NHL’s Fastest Skater competition at All-Star weekend. His 62 points in 62 games leads the Blues and at the age of 23, it looks like this is only the beginning of the Kyrou era in St. Louis. Meanwhile, Barbashev has been the most pleasant surprise for Blues fans with an unexpected offensive outburst, far surpassing career highs in both goals and points. A fourth-line bruiser on the team’s championship squad in 2019, Barbashev has played his way into being relied upon as a legitimate middle-six forward.
The balanced scoring has given the Blues essentially three “first” lines, alongside the final two members of the team’s top nine, Ryan O’Reilly and Robert Thomas. At sixteen and fifteen goals to their name, respectively, it is not completely out of the question that the list can expand before the season’s end. Even if neither player reaches the benchmark, both have had great seasons with Thomas leading the team in assists and O’Reilly having another year of elite two-way play.
With the focus of the Blues as a franchise being a defense for the past decade, the high-powered offense in 2021-22 has been a breath of fresh air for Blues fans. With the game of hockey transitioning into a more skillful, offensive game, it is positive to see that the Blues are willing to shift directions as an organization in order to maintain competitiveness on a yearly basis.
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