Offense Back on Track

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Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 4th of the year to get the Blues going in their 2nd win over Colorado.

After losing 5 in a row to the Colorado Avalanche, the St. Louis Blues on Monday night defeated them for the 2nd consecutive game.

With the victory, the Blues now are 1 point over Arizona in the Honda West Division.

The Blues got goals from Vladimir Tarasenko, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas. For Tarasenko, it was just his 4th goal of the season after coming back from his shoulder injury. For Schenn, it was his first in 20 games. All goals were by forwards. More importantly, they were by forwards that you expect to see on the scoresheet on any given night.

This was the kind of game the Blues need more of as they power down the stretch toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Timely goal scoring, solid defense and stony goaltending.

It’s great to see Tarasenko get on the board. His goal came in the first period; he was set up in front of the crease and when the puck landed near him, he whiffed at first but made contact on his 2nd shot and put it in the net. We need to see more of this from him – the willingness to play near the goal and get the “dirty” goals. He’s a sniper that can score from yards away but he can also help by causing chaos near the goalie.

It was also long past time for Thomas to score. Although he dealt with an injury for several games, he just has 2 goals now in 23 games played. He was and is being counted on to be a significant contributor to the Blues top 9 forwards. It was hoped he’d take a big step forward in his development as a scorer. So far that has not come to fruition.

The victory was even more impressive considering the Blues were without 2 of their top 6 defensemen. Parayko and Dunn were ruled out before the game, both sustaining injuries during the previous game. Steven Santini debuted with the Blues. Not a rookie, Santini previously played with the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators. He signed a 2-way deal with the Blues last offseason. He played in 39 games for the Devils in 2018-19, with 4 points. He could get an extended look, depending on the length of time that injuries hold out Parayko and Dunn.

The Blues are pretty healthy now, forward-wise. But they need Parayko, as he’s a big-bodied, top pairing guy that’s hard to replace.

The Blues will now turn their attention to the Minnesota Wild for the next 3 games. Every game, every point is crucial now for the Blues, fighting for a place in the playoffs.

Resumed Pursuit?

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Yesterday I saw on Twitter that the St. Louis Blues were reportedly asking about the price to acquire Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall.

If you recall, the Blues also reportedly were in talks in 2019 when the Devils made him available. He eventually went to the Coyotes for a steep, 4-piece package that included a conditional 1st round pick and a 3rd rounder. The price is even more steep considering he fled the Coyotes in free agency to sign with Buffalo.

Hall is on a one year deal with the Sabres, which makes him, yet again, a rental player for any acquiring team. The price, per the Sabres, is apparently a 1st round draft pick. Hall, though 32 games, has just 2 goals this season, and the fact that he isn’t lighting up the scoresheet may suppress the price.

The other day, Eric Staal fetched a 3rd and 5th round pick from Montreal. Staal isn’t a forward of Hall’s ability by any means, but he does have 10 points on the season.

So let’s break this down from the Blues perspective. The Blues are in a kind of free fall right, losing last night to the less than world-beating Ducks, and with their offense in a severe funk. The fundamentals are spotty, and the team is suffering from defensive breakdowns, not to mention an unprecedented injury bug. Some fans are convinced this isn’t their year.

So why would the Blues want to acquire Hall? Well, Doug Armstrong is always on the prowl for elite talent that could help the team out now (and in the future). Hall is 29, still in the prime of his career (theoretically). Armstrong probably isn’t sure what they have in Tarasenko, recently returned from injury. Will he regain his elite form? The team will lose a player in this summer’s expansion draft. So all that may have Armstrong seeing how he can change up the roster and add scoring. Presumably, the Blues would look to extend Hall in the offseason.

If they were so inclined, they would have the salary cap space for it. The contracts of Bozak, Schwartz, Gunnarsson, and Hoffman are all up after this season.

But the Blues may be interested primarily because they view a shakeup of the team’s chemistry as necessary for the playoff push. They’ve lost 7 of their last 10 games.

So what would the price be? The Blues aren’t averse to trading draft picks, even 1st round ones. Their 1st for the 2021 draft is intact should they want to offer it. But teams need to hang on to their 1st round picks if they want to keep the talent pipeline flowing. And certainly, the price gets less the longer Buffalo holds on to Hall.

The Blues also may look to shake up things even more by spinning off underperforming players for picks, which they could package to get Hall. Although any of the players that could conceivably be moved – Dunn, Hoffman – would fetch a 1st round pick.

So I think a Hall acquisition to be unlikely, but Armstrong is more than capable of pulling off a surprise. And wouldn’t Hall look great in the Note sweater.

Sandford and Sunny

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Zach Sanford is a key contributor this season, as expected.-

As of today, March 5th, the St. Louis Blues sit at 13-8-2, good for 2nd place in the Honda West Division. The big story of the season is the incredible number of players sidelined by injury. Specifically, the team’s forward corps has been hit hard. But amidst the injuries, two forwards are stepping up their game and showing how valuable they are to the Blues.

Continue reading “Sandford and Sunny”