The regular season wraps up on Friday, and to say that the Blues have been on a roll down the stretch is an understatement. Their team record point streak ended on Tuesday night against the Avalanche, but putting together a 16 game streak is no small achievement. Neither is the Blues’ offense - they have eight players with 50 or more points this season, which is the best in the NHL. They also have eight players with 20 or more goals, another league leading mark. They’ll be finishing the season with two 30+ goal scorers in Vladimir Tarasenko (35) and Pavel Buchnevich (30).
The team as a whole is clicking, right through the defense and Justin Faulk’s recent performances. Faulk leads the Blues’ defense with 16 goals and 47 points; Torey Krug’s leading the defensemen with 32 assists. The goaltending has had hiccups, but that could well have something to do with the occasional defensive lapses that are still an issue with the team.
The playoffs are centered around smart defense and goaltending, but the Blues could patch up their flaws there with some continuing offensive prowess.
Picking a playoff X-Factor this year is tough if you’re going to use the metric of “underperforming forward gets hot.” If you want to stretch the definition of “underperforming forward” you could look toward Jordan Kyrou. His performance down the stretch, which has been marred by illness, hasn’t been up to his pre-All Star metrics, but the last several games are attention getting. Three assists against the Avalanche and a goal and assist against the Anaheim Ducks could be the start of something great.
Of course, there’s also Ryan O’Reilly, whose two goals and assist against the Avs nearly sparked a rally that got the Blues a win. He’s been quiet on the scoresheet, but he’s never been a quiet leader, and it’s looking like he’s preparing for a playoff push that the team can back up this season.
David Perron has had a great second half to a season that initially made fans wonder if he was slowing down. He’s been off of his pace over the last five games, with just one assist back on April 17th against the Predators. On the other hand, Perron is a playoff performer. The Blues missed his services deeply last postseason against the Avalanche last year while he was out with Covid-19. The previous year, his four goals and five assists in the playoff bubble was key to the Blues at least forcing their first round series against the Canucks to six games. Of course, without Perron in 2019, it’s tough to envision the Blues winning the Stanley Cup.
Or could it be a dark horse candidate? We’ll have to wait until next week, but make your pick here. No prizes here save for the self-satisfaction of knowing you made a correct prediction, which seriously, isn’t that prize enough?
Who’s going to be the Blues’ playoff X-Factor?
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