Featured

Year In Review: 2021-22 St. Louis Blues

|
Image for Year In Review: 2021-22 St. Louis Blues

After an eight-month campaign filled with ups and downs, the 2021-22 season has come to an end for the St. Louis Blues. Battling injuries and COVID-19 issues, particularly early in the year, the Blues rallied down the stretch to finish the season with 109 points, good for ninth in the NHL and third in the Central Division. After dispatching the Minnesota Wild in six games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, St. Louis was ultimately eliminated in six games in the second round by the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Blues entered the 2021-22 season with aspirations of contending for the Stanley Cup yet again. The most consistent team in the Western Conference in the last decade, the Blues did just that, boasting one of the top offences in the league with an NHL-best nine players with at least twenty goals scored. The two-headed monster of Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso was one of the best tandems in the league, making up for some defensive deficiencies along the way.

We have an entire summer to discuss pending free agents and potential offseason moves, but now is the time to dissect the 2021-22 season for the St. Louis Blues and touch on some of the key performers from a memorable campaign.

Newcomer of the Year

There are plenty of candidates to choose from between offseason additions and rookies that cracked the lineup, but the biggest addition for the Blues in 2021-22 was Pavel Buchnevich. Coming over via trade from the New York Rangers, Buchnevich set career highs in goals, assists, and points in his first year in St. Louis. By the end of the season, Buchnevich found playing time on the power play, penalty kill, and five-on-five, completely earning the trust of the coaching staff in year one. With three more seasons left on his current deal, I expect more great things to come from the Russian winger.

Breakout Player of the Year

Again, this was a tough call to make. A major reason for the Blues’ success in 2021-22 was the ascension of several young players. While there were several players worthy of this award, the honour has to go to the man who has become a household name over the course of the season, and that’s Jordan Kyrou. Like Buchnevich, Kyrou set career highs in goals, assists, and points and while still only 24 years old, the sky appears to be the limit for the speedy winger. Between his record-breaking performance at the 2022 NHL Winter Classic and his victory in the NHL’s Fastest Skater Competition, Kyrou made a name for himself in 2021-22 as the present and future of the St. Louis offence.

Goaltender of the Year

There is certainly a case to be made for either goaltender to be given this award. While Binnington was lights-out in the playoffs and his injury looked to be a key turning point in the Colorado series, the overall body of work by Husso was too great to be ignored. Coming into his second NHL season as the clear-cut number two goaltender, Husso took over the reins midseason and remained the number one goalie halfway through the first round of the playoffs. Finishing among the league leaders in goals-against average and save percentage, Husso established himself as a starting goaltender in this league, which is arguably the biggest surprise from the Blues this season.

Defenseman of the Year

If there were doubts coming into the season about who the Blues’ number one defenseman is, there shouldn’t be any doubts anymore. Justin Faulk has taken over the role as St. Louis’ most dangerous offensive weapon from the back end while also playing top minutes against the opponent’s top lines every night. After struggling in his first season as a Blue, Faulk made huge strides last season and put himself in the conversation for the number one defenseman on the club. After a sixteen-goal, forty-seven point season in 2021-22, Faulk has cemented his place as one of the leaders on this team and is more than deserving of the title of Defenseman of the Year.

Forward of the Year

Like most of these awards, there were plenty of candidates to choose from for Forward of the Year. With every member of the club’s top nine notching at least twenty goals, the strength of this group was certainly its depth, though there was one forward whose performance shined above the rest. How about the year that Vladimir Tarasenko just had? After an offseason filled with trade speculation and questions about his health, Tarasenko responded with his first every eighty-point season, leading the team with eighty-two points. While many people thought that his best years were behind him due to multiple knee surgeries, Tarasenko once again looked like the superstar Blues fans were accustomed to seeing.

The 2021-22 season for the St. Louis Blues is officially in the books and it is a year best described as a re-tooling year. While maintaining their competitive status, the Blues were successfully able to transition from a bruising defensive team to one filled with speed and dynamic offensive play, keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of the NHL. This season was a moderate success for St. Louis. While the Stanley Cup was the ultimate goal, only one team can win every year, and another season finishing among the league’s elite eight is nothing to hang your head about.

main image credit:

Embed from Getty Images

Share this article