When the 2022-23 NHL season began, most pundits agreed that the St. Louis Blues would be one of the strong suitors in the Central Division and be a virtual lock-in for the Stanley Cup playoffs next spring. The Blues started the season with a promising winning streak and then something happened along the way starting on October 24th. The Blues forgot how to finish off games and went on a franchise record eight game losing streak.
Although there are many guesses as to why the Blues hit the skids in late October, the results were even more staggering as St. Louis stumbled down into the Central Division cellar with that massive losing streak. The Blues quickly fell from grace as a possible deep playoff contender to a “bottom feeder” status-usually reserved for teams that have little or no hope of having a productive season as soon as the regular season begins.
Fans and pundits alike certainly can blame the Blues’ losing streak on bad plays, bad breaks and anything else bad but the end result is the same – a losing streak early in the season puts a team behind in the standings. An eight-game losing streak makes life even more difficult for a team to pull themselves out of a hole they created with their own misadventures. However, something happened on the way to the Blues continuing their losing streak – they found a way to win again.
The Blues have put together a genuine winning streak.
Last Thursday, the Blues found that winning is always preferable to losing by knocking off the continually-rebuilding San Jose Sharks on the road 5-3. With that win, the Blues rolled into Sin City to take on the Vegas Golden Knights last Saturday. Whether the Blues believe in Lady Luck or just solid hockey play, they did the almost-unthinkable by beating the Golden Knights 3-2.
The third period of this game provided plenty of excitement as net minder Jordan Binnington provided no less than 22 saves in the final frame while his surrounding defense added nine more blocked shots just in the last 14 minutes of this game. Somehow, someway the Blues resolved themselves to find the intestinal fortitude to extend their modest winning streak and when all was said and done, St. Louis was able to halt the Golden Knights’ ten game winning streak.
In what seemed to be a repeat of last season’s playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues were able to hold off the Avs in Denver on Monday night with goals by Brandon Saad, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (who scored on a power play in the early seconds of the third period.) Nevertheless, the Avs threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Blues in the final period and with double minor penalties in the final moments of this game, the Blues faced a six on three onslaught due to the Avs pulling goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to add another skater to find that elusive final goal to push this game into overtime. Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington looked like a human pinball in that mad minute but emerged unscathed and was instrumental in adding a third win in a row for the Blues.
Can the Blues really turn around their season?
Maybe having the Blues’ mothers in attendance in Denver was a good omen for St. Louis or maybe this franchise has turned a corner on their season. As luck would have it, the Blues found yet another way to pull off their fourth consecutive win in Chicago with a sound 5-2 victory on Wednesday night. Ironically, this winning streak found the Blues while they were on the road. Maybe the Blues’ front office can find a way to keep the players’ mothers around for just a little while longer since two big road wins came while the moms were in attendance. A couple of road wins is a good sign that the Blues are turning a new page on their season; four wins in a row may in fact signal that the St. Louis Blues are back in contention within the Central Division again.
While protecting the net, Jordan Binnington has a cleaner record now at 7-5-0 with a goals-against average of 2.98 and a save percentage at .905. Wins don’t have to be pretty and they certainly don’t have to be ESPN Top Ten-worthy. The Blues just need to keep winning to right their ship and start a move up the Central Division standings as they strive to improve on their7-8-0 record. The Blues wrapped up a very fruitful road trip and it’s now time to see if they can continue their newfound winning ways at home at the Enterprise Center.