Vladimir Tarasenko went down with a shoulder injury in October. Sammy Blais has been out with a wrist injury since the end of November. Colton Parayko has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury. Alexander Steen and Oskar Sundqvist both missed some time earlier in the season as well.
Most people thought the Blues would quickly flounder, especially when they lost Tarasenko. But this team has been resilient in the face of these injuries. And it’s led them to the best record in the league. Their 30-10-7 record gives them 67 points on the season. That’s also an 11-point cushion in the Central Division.
The Blues are poised to make another run and they likely won’t get Tarasenko back until the playoffs. Add him back into the mix and this team could be extremely dangerous, even more so than they already have been. That is if Tarasenko comes back to form when he returns. Even if he doesn’t, this team has more than proven they have weapons besides him in their arsenal.
The biggest beneficiary since Tarasenko went down has been David Perron. He has gotten the opportunity to shine and he hasn’t let anyone down in the process. He’s on record to shatter all of his career highs. Perron has already matched his total in points from last season in 11 less games. He’s 20 points away from his career high of 66 points he set with the Vegas Golden Knights.
This is Perron’s third stint with the Blues and it seems like he’s saved the best for last. And he more than earned his first All-Star nod. It may have taken a final vote to get him in, but he deserves every moment of it. He’ll be joining Jordan Binnington, Ryan O’Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo later this month.
While the two aren’t All-Stars like the players mentioned above, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz have played just as big as a role. Schenn is second on the team in goals (17) and third in points (38) while Schwartz is third in goals (15) and points (38). And the two have formed an admirable duo together on the ice.
And even some of the players you may not expect to contribute have found their names on the scoresheet recently. Steen has three goals in his last three games on a line with Tyler Bozak and Robert Thomas. The three have a combined 11 points in the last three games.
The Blues have also been able to throw some of their rookies into the mix as well. Niko Mikkola made his NHL debut in place of Parayko. And the ice time has only increased in his first four games. He grabbed his first NHL point against the Sabres and has only looked better as each game has progressed.
And the goaltending has helped carry them along. We know what we’re typically getting each night with Binnington. But it’s the play of Jake Allen that has surprised most people. The once maligned goaltender has taken the role of backup and run with it. Allen actually has a better save percentage and goals against average than Binnington, albeit in 17 less games. In 16 games played, 14 of those starts, Allen has eight wins. It’s a long way away from the 45 games he started last season. However, Allen has admirably accepted the role as Binnington has rose to the starter’s role.
This has all helped them on their current nine-game home winning streak. That matches a franchise record that dates back to January 26-February 26, 1991. They’ll have a chance to make history when they welcome in the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.