Game Notes: St. Louis Blues @ Edmonton Oilers

Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers will be going up against another tough opponent on Saturday afternoon when they host the St. Louis Blues.
1. The Blues are undefeated on the season but they’ve only played two games against a pair of weak opponents, so there aren’t very many conclusions we can draw about the team yet this season. They won their first game of the season last Saturday by a score of 5-2 over the Columbus Blue Jackets and they beat the Seattle Kraken in overtime on Wednesday.
2. Last year, the Blues finished third in the loaded Central Division behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild with a 49-22-11 record. They beat the Wild in six games in the first round and they lost to the Avs in six games in the second round, accounting for half of Colorado’s total losses in the playoffs.
3. The key to St. Louis’ success last season was a deep offence in which all four lines were capable of scoring goals at any time. All told, they had nine different forwards reach the 20-goal plateau, the most of any NHL team since the early 1990s. Vladimir Tarasenko bounced back after two injury-riddled seasons with 34 goals, newly-acquired Pavel Buchnevich scored 30 goals, Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev, and Robert Thomas broke out with 27, 26, and 20 goals, and veterans David Perron, Brayden Schenn, Brandon Saad, and Ryan O’Reilly added 27, 24, 24, and 21 goals respectively.
Through two games, seven different Blues have already scored a goal. Tarasenko and defenceman Justin Faulk are leading the way with two goals each while Schenn, Kyrou, Barbashev, Buchnevich, and rookie Jake Neighbours have also scored.
4. The Blues lost one of those 20-goal scorers in the off-season as Perron signed a multi-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings but the other eight are back. The hope in St. Louis is that 2020 first-round pick Jake Neighbours can internally make up for some of Perron’s production. Neighbours scored 45 points in 30 regular season games for the Edmonton Oil Kings last season and he added 17 points in 19 playoff games as the team won the WHL Championship.
5. The other significant loss that the Blues had over the off-season was the departure of Ville Husso, the team’s unsung hero of 2021-22. Husso came out of nowhere and stepped up for the Blues while starting goaltender Jordan Binnington was struggling through some inconsistent play. He posted a .919 save percentage over 40 games and cashed in as a free agent, inking a three-year, $14.25 million deal with Detroit. His replacement is 36-year-old Thomas Greiss, who put up an .891 save percentage in 31 games with the Red Wings last season.
6. Greiss might fare better playing for a stronger team but it’s critical for the Blues that Binnington has a rebound season this year. He stopped 23 of 25 shots in the Blues’ win over Columbus and he stopped 32 of 35 shots in their win against Seattle. Not the strongest competition, obviously, but a nice start for Binnington.
7. The Oilers have allowed four goals against in each of their past three games. They were able to outscore the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, an impressive showing against a team that’s generally very good at keeping the puck out of their own net, but you can’t always rely on scoring five or six goals to win games. Edmonton’s blueline needs to settle down and stop giving the other team so many quality looks. The breakout passes need to be sharper and then defensive zone coverage needs to be better.
8. The season series between the Oilers and Blues was high-scoring last year. Edmonton took the first meeting in St. Louis in November with a 5-4 win, the Blues won at home in late December by a score of 4-2 when the Oilers had multiple positive COVID-19 results, and the Oilers won their one meeting in Edmonton in March by a score of 6-5.
That’s at least four goals against in each game against the Blues last year. The goal for Saturday afternoon should be to allow no more than three. That would be a big win for a struggling blueline going up against a team with a strong offence.

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