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Nathan Walker Jersey

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With 5:59 left in the second period, Australian winger Nathan Walker claimed his first goal with the St. Louis Blues during Saturday night’s tilt against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

Volleying a bouncing pass out of mid-air from Jaden Schwartz, the newly promoted forward blasted a slapshot past goalie Matt Murray to give the Note a 2-1 lead.

This tally made history, with Walker being the first Australian to ever score for the franchise. Then again, he has a history of making history.

How exactly did Walker end up on the Blues’ top line, notching his second NHL goal? His path to hockey’s premier league takes many unexpected turns, starting with the fact that he was born in Cardiff, Wales. Not exactly the hotbed of hockey talent.

At the age of two, his father uprooted the Walker clan and transplanted them in sunny Sydney, Australia. Known for its hard-hitting rugby, time-honored cricket, and endless surfing, there are only 22 ice rinks sprinkled across the continent down under. That did not stop the young Walker from falling in love with the game:

It all started when my brother started playing. We slowly learned the hockey, and from there we went to Toronto for a tournament, went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and bought all the hockey DVDs. I think it just kick-started from back in the day when “The Mighty Ducks” was up and running.
Mike Vogel – NHL.com

Having worn out home-made goals of PVC pipes and growing frustrated by limited ice time, Walker’s outsized ambition lead him to do what can only be described as a “hockey walkabout.” He moved to the Czech Republic at the young age of 13 to play junior hockey against players his age and skill level.

From 2007-10, Walker laced up for HC Vitkovice U18, racking up 57 points in 62 games for the under-18 squad. Stints with the under-20 team allowed him to test his skill against older players, all while flashing his trademark speed. He proudly wore the green and gold sweater of his home nation, competing in the 2012 World Championship Division Group B in Krynica, Poland. Although the Mighty Roos failed to win a game in the tournament, he bagged two goals and turned his attention to playing in the United States.

The Youngstown Phantoms were Walker’s first taste of North American hockey and there was no jet lag in his game. Tallying 27 points in 20 games, he was quickly making a name for himself. However, due to the byzantine draft rules, he would have had to wait until the 2014 Draft to sign an NHL contract. Instead, the Aussie winger opted to play in the American Hockey League for the Washington Capitals affiliate, the Hershey Bears, signing in Sep. 2013.

With 5:59 left in the second period, Australian winger Nathan Walker claimed his first goal with the St. Louis Blues during Saturday night’s tilt against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

Volleying a bouncing pass out of mid-air from Jaden Schwartz, the newly promoted forward blasted a slapshot past goalie Matt Murray to give the Note a 2-1 lead.
Craig Berube: “It was a big goal. Made us feel good about ourselves.” (‘NHL Post-game press conference’, NHL.com – 11/30/19)

This tally made history, with Walker being the first Australian to ever score for the franchise. Then again, he has a history of making history.
Long and Winding Road to the NHL

How exactly did Walker end up on the Blues’ top line, notching his second NHL goal? His path to hockey’s premier league takes many unexpected turns, starting with the fact that he was born in Cardiff, Wales. Not exactly the hotbed of hockey talent.

At the age of two, his father uprooted the Walker clan and transplanted them in sunny Sydney, Australia. Known for its hard-hitting rugby, time-honored cricket, and endless surfing, there are only 22 ice rinks sprinkled across the continent down under. That did not stop the young Walker from falling in love with the game:

It all started when my brother started playing. We slowly learned the hockey, and from there we went to Toronto for a tournament, went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and bought all the hockey DVDs. I think it just kick-started from back in the day when “The Mighty Ducks” was up and running.
Mike Vogel – NHL.com

Having worn out home-made goals of PVC pipes and growing frustrated by limited ice time, Walker’s outsized ambition lead him to do what can only be described as a “hockey walkabout.” He moved to the Czech Republic at the young age of 13 to play junior hockey against players his age and skill level.
Nathan Walker British Empire
Nathan Walker, HC Vitkovice U18
(hc-vitkovice.cz)

From 2007-10, Walker laced up for HC Vitkovice U18, racking up 57 points in 62 games for the under-18 squad. Stints with the under-20 team allowed him to test his skill against older players, all while flashing his trademark speed. He proudly wore the green and gold sweater of his home nation, competing in the 2012 World Championship Division Group B in Krynica, Poland. Although the Mighty Roos failed to win a game in the tournament, he bagged two goals and turned his attention to playing in the United States.
Phantoms, Bears, and Caps Oh My

The Youngstown Phantoms were Walker’s first taste of North American hockey and there was no jet lag in his game. Tallying 27 points in 20 games, he was quickly making a name for himself. However, due to the byzantine draft rules, he would have had to wait until the 2014 Draft to sign an NHL contract. Instead, the Aussie winger opted to play in the American Hockey League for the Washington Capitals affiliate, the Hershey Bears, signing in Sep. 2013.

That decision started a series of historic “firsts” for Sydney’s favorite son. Walker was the first Australian to play and score in the AHL. Following a solid season with the Bears, the Capitals drafted him in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft, 89th pick overall. Another first.

Then, on Oct. 7, 2017, Walker became the first Australian ever to play in the NHL. He even picked up his first NHL goal, deflecting a Devante Smith-Pelly wrister off of his backside and into the net.

After being picked up by the Edmonton Oilers on waivers and then reacquired by the Capitals just 18 days later, Walker became the first Australian to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, in which he recorded an assist. (from ‘Capitals re-claim Aussie forward Nathan Walker off waivers,’ Washington Post, 12/20/2017)

And then the biggest first of them all came on June 7, 2018, as he joined his teammates in hoisting the Stanley Cup. This was a first for Australia and the first for the Washington organization, too. Though he did not get his name engraved on the sacred trophy, he did get a shout-out from then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball.

Equally as rewarding were the complimentary words from Capitals then-head coach Barry Trotz. “He’s got a really unique skillset,” Trotz said of Walker. “He’s explosive, he’s quick, he gets on people, he causes havoc. It’s not nice to play against. A lot of those Australian qualities that you endear with those south of the equator, he has that mentality and mindset. He’s going to make you pay, he’s going to play hard against you and he’s going to have an effect on the ice.“
From One Champ to Another

Called up for just three games in the 2018-19 campaign, Walker decided it was time to part ways with the Capitals after six years. On July 1, he signed a two-year, two-way contract with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues.
Nathan Walker skates for the Capitals against the Blues in a 2016 preseason game (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

So, how could a 25-year-old left winger with only 12 NHL games get a shot with defending Stanley Cup champs? By putting up impossible-to-ignore numbers for the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. At the time of his call up, Walker led the Rampage with 12 goals and 22 points.

Yet, even with all the injuries to the Blues offense, there was some concern that Walker might get passed over due to his size. Listed at 5-foot-8, 186 pounds with speed to burn, he reminds many fans of the recently-traded Robby Fabbri, who couldn’t crack the lineup this season.

During his post-game interview on NHL.com following the Blues 5-2 win over the Penguins on Nov. 30, here’s what Craig Berube had to say about Walker:

This guy’s had a good year so far. He had a real good training camp. You know, (Walker) was really close to making the team. Probably maybe even did make the team. But we have the same team back from last year and there wasn’t room right away, so he went down to the American League and is leading their team in scoring, and maybe the league, I think, in scoring, so he’s played really well.
from ‘Blues win third straight, beat Penguins 5-2,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/30/2019

Subbing for the injured Oskar Sundqvist, Walker made a pest of himself against the Dallas Stars and appeared to have scored his first NHL goal in two years, stuffing the puck home past netminder Ben Bishop. Unfortunately, that goal was waved off due to offsides.
Craig Berube, Jake Berube
St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube, along with his son Jake, carry the Stanley Cup (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Walker wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to bask in the red glow of the goal lamp. The next night, he found himself skating with top-liners Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz during the second period. Playing on his off-wing, he sent a knuckle-puck bouncing over Murray’s pads, rippling the twine. Berube explained the line mash-up: “Schenn and Schwartz needed a guy to get in there a bit with more energy and bang around a little bit and create some loose pucks.”

With Sammy Blais and Vladimir Tarasenko out for the foreseeable future, the Aussie forward has the opportunity to change the course of his career. From his first three games with the Blues, it appears the man from down under wants to stay up for good.

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For the St. Louis Blues and their fans, Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and gratitude. A time for family and friends. It’s a time we can all take a minute or two and bring to mind the blessings we have in our lives today. It’s something that goes so far beyond sports.

It’s about more than just being mindful of all the blessings. It’s about showing that gratitude and blessing another fellow human. Be it a stranger, a family member, a friend, or a co-worker. I don’t want to miss the true nature of gratitude in this article without encouraging all of our readers at some point between now and the end of the year to reach out and bless someone else.

Nothing brings gratitude like unconditionally helping another. Sometimes it’s just listening to someone as they unload their burdens and worries. Sometimes it’s through a random act of kindness. Whatever the case we all know someone, somewhere who needs our help. So show some gratitude and help them.

If no one immediately comes to mind then as you think about it here are some things as Blues fans we can be grateful for.

As St. Louis Blues fans we have already endured some tough news this season with injuries and suspensions.

Although this news has been unwelcomed and unsavory there are some things we can certainly be grateful for.

It’s not the November 2018-19 season!

A year ago at this time, the Blues were fresh off firing then-head coach Mike Yeo and Craig Berube had taken over as the interim. The team was in the midst of spiraling its way to the bottom of the league record-wise.

This season, however, the Blues sit near the top of the Western Conference and near the top of the entire NHL. The Blues have a 14-5-6 record good for 34 points and tops in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference.

Robert Thomas is Displaying Top 6 Center Skills

With the Blues combatting injuries and looking for some more offense Craig Berube finally unleashed Robert Thomas as a center for the third line. In his brief time there at the writing of this piece, he has amassed 5 points in his last four games.

He is showing off his vision and playmaking abilities with ease and has really come on as the future superstar the Blues and their fans have been hoping for.

David Perron’s Wrist Shot

DP57 since his time in Vegas and here has really developed and improved his wrist shot to the tune of 11 goals in 25 games. With the unwelcomed and unfortunate news of Vladimir Tarasenko needing shoulder surgery and being on the shelf at a minimum of 5 weeks DP57’s number has been called often. Paired up with Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron has been given every opportunity to showcase his shot.

With O’Reilly setting the table Perron has shown not just the Blues, but the entire NHL that he has a shot that is hard, quick and more importantly incredibly deceptive. Thank goodness he altered the curve on his stick and has found this new shot.

He always had a good shot, but the way he is delivering now has added an element of deception that makes it very tough for the opposing goaltenders to pick up on the release. Keep firing the puck DP!

Jordan Binnington is a Bonafide NHL Starter

At the start of the season, everyone outside the Blues fanbase was questioning if Jordan Binnington was the real deal or not. Over the course of the first quarter of this season, all Binnington has done is go 11-4-4 with 1 shutout a 2.23 GAA and .923 SV%.

I don’t think there are any doubters or question marks left. The guy has ice water coursing through his veins and an unrelenting competitive hellfire burning in his chest. He is the biggest reason this team will make the playoffs and stay competitive in this early injury-plagued season.

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Oskar Sundqvist, or Sunny, as his teammates and fans call him was coming off of missing 6 games with an injury. He was a welcomed return in a line up searching for cohesion and rhythm.

The Blues over the three-game slide looked like a team searching for each other. What I mean by that is the Blues passes have been off. Either hitting their skates or behind them. Or leading the player far too ahead or going to spots where the players thought the intended receiver would be only to find vacant ice.

It continued to a degree in this game against Vegas as well, but there were some nice stretches, especially in the second period, where the Blues were, well the Blues. The one difference in this game compared to the rest was Oskar Sundqvist.

Sunny was everywhere! Aside from making a save, although he did block a shot, Sunny owned the game.

He showed the team how they used to play and need to play going forward in order to win.

Let me stop here for just a second. I have to admit that when we received Sunny in the trade for Ryan Reaves and a first-rounder I thought eh another AHLer lifer.

Sorry about that Sunny. I have eaten my words and am happy to say that I was dead wrong. Sunny has become a consummate Blue. He is Mr. Plug and Play for Craig Berube. Need a penalty killed? Sunny. Need the next man up? Sunny. Need a scoring winger? Sunny. Need a goal? Sunny. Need some offensive zone time? Sunny. Need a shot blocked? Sunny. You get the point.

Sundqvist currently has 6 goals and 1 assist in his last 6 games with a +5 in those games and 19 shots on goal. He has been excellent in whatever role Berube needs him to fill.

The Blues were floundering a bit over the last couple of weeks and the chemistry wasn’t there for long stretches. We weren’t getting to our game very much and it seemed at times the Blues didn’t know what their game was to even get to it.

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Collecting points in six of their last seven games, the Vegas Golden Knights (16-12-5) seem to be surging. An incredible run with Malcolm Subban in goal, saw the team reel off an impressive four-game win streak, to close November and start December on a high note. While the momentum is clear, a dangerous opponent awaits the red-hot Golden Knights.

Original Golden Knight David Perron and the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues (18-8-6) host the Golden Knights on Thursday evening. The Blues were the comeback story of 2018-19, going from worst to first, culminating with a cup. This season, the Blues have been performing as expected and have their strong goaltending to thank.

Both Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen have been stellar thus far in 2019. Both netminders boast sub-2.50 GAAs and Sv% numbers in the .920 range. Allen, who was displaced as the starter last season, has embraced his new role and flourished. Binnington continues to learn on the fly, with his Stanley Cup run being his sole season of NHL starting experience. His miraculous run was a memorable one and he continues to build on the faith instilled by Head Coach Craig Berube.

As of Tuesday evening, the Golden Knights’ goaltending has also begun to normalize. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to action (personal), nearly posting a shutout in his first start since November 23. In Flower’s absence, Subban did an admirable job with his first real run of ice time. He was able to get into a rhythm and show the team and fans alike what he can do when given the chance. Fleury is the unquestioned No. 1, but Subban has proven to be a reliable insurance plan.

Fleury got plenty of “run support” in his return as the Golden Knights hung five goals on Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks. Goals came from all over as Deryk Engelland and Ryan Reaves scored their respective first and third goals of the season. Reilly Smith continues to be a catalyst for the team and directly contributed to two goals, with outstanding individual efforts, resulting in a goal and an assist. A late – 27 seconds left in the game – power play goal spoiled Fleury’s return shutout bid.

St. Louis is mired in a bit of a rough patch, looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Buffalo Sabres combined for a rough Eastern Conference slate of games. In those three losses, the Blues scored a mere four goals while giving up five in two of the three contests. Perron continues to be a consistent contributor, leading the team in scoring, but they need more consistency out of players like Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn, in Vladimir Tarasenko’s absence.

Allen was excellent in mop up duty against the Maple Leafs, but took the L in Buffalo, so expect Binnington in net for this one. He will almost certainly take on Fleury shaping up for quite the goalie duel. The Golden Knights remain without centers Cody Eakin (Upper Body) and Cody Glass (Upper Body) and will rely heavily on the new guy, Chandler Stephenson.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Golden Knights, as they’ll hit the road immediately after the Blues game. The second game of their road back-to-back comes in Dallas, a city where they have seen mixed results over the past three seasons. The Stars were victorious, by a score of 4-2, in their last Texas reunion, but fired Head Coach Jim Montgomery earlier this week.

The competition is fierce, but every point counts for the Golden Knights. They’ll be looking to climb the divisional standings before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, in a matchup between two talented Pacific Division clubs. As of now they’re just outside the ever-revolving Pacific Division top three, but a few wins can go a long way.

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The day is coming soon when Ryan O’Reilly will be recognized for more than simply sharing his name with an NHL All-Star. Being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2018 was his first step in the right direction for the talented, young forward. Today marks yet another big step, as O’Reilly announced that he will play his college hockey for Arizona State University. O’Reilly has a chance to become the face of the young Sun Devils program, as he is set to be the highest-drafted prospect to ever suit up for Arizona State.

O’Reilly, 19, was selected 98th overall in the fourth round by the Red Wings two years ago, but some projected him to go even higher. A big, natural right wing, O’Reilly is a goal scoring threat from anywhere on the ice. A former verbal commit to the University of Denver, the Dallas native is an exciting talent given his combination of size and skill. O’Reilly has recorded more than 30 points in each of the past two seasons in the USHL and is on pace to shatter that mark this season. Through 18 games, O’Reilly has scored at a point-per-game pace with nine goals and nine assists.

The Sun Devils gain a major piece with the addition of O’Reilly to next year’s recruiting class and continue to impress with how quickly they have built their program. Arizona State did not field a Division I hockey team until 2015-16, a season in which the Sun Devils went 5-22-2. Yet, just three years later they were in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The team has gotten consistently stellar play over the past few years from the likes of forward Johnny Walker, defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk and since-graduated Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Joey Daccord. Yet, with the Sun Devils’ recent success they can now compete with other top teams in the recruiting race, adding NHL talent in some cases. Forward Demetrios Koumontzis, selected by the Calgary Flames just 10 picks after O’Reilly, is the lone NHL draft pick on the team, but not for long. O’Reilly and young New Jersey Devils-owned goaltender Cole Brady are on their way, undoubtedly followed by more in the near future. While O’Reilly has a chance to be a star for Arizona State and show the Red Wings what he can bring to the NHL level, his commitment will open the door for even more talent to find its way to Arizona State.

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Take a minute and think about it then when you’ve guessed who that is for the St. Louis Blues and then continue reading. If you thought Vince Dunn you’re wrong. Shockingly it’s Justin Faulk. That’s right. Faulker is Mini-Petro.

The St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong surprised us all trading Joel Edmundson to Carolina for Justin Faulk and then signing him to a 7 yr deal worth $6.5 million a season.

The St. Louis Blues when announcing the deal touted Justin Faulk’s power-play goal production and offensive abilities. The trade made sense from the perspective that the Blues were looking for a tried and true power play “quarterback”.

One thing they didn’t take into consideration was if Mark Savard, Craig Berube, and Mike Van Ryn were looking for outside help on the power play. It appears, for now, they weren’t. Leaving Faulk to play in a role he just isn’t suited for.

Faulk has never been a solid defensive player. He has forever been the Carolina Hurricanes fan’s whipping boy.

Faulk has been a minus player despite the offensive production, most of which on the power play. Points be darned if you’re a minus player then you probably aren’t very good on defense. Something the Blues say Pietrangelo is.

Faulk in his defense also played on a Hurricanes team that failed to make the playoffs every season and reached over 90 points as a team once in his career there prior to 2018-19.

So one could argue that Faulk was on losing teams and that the overall team play hurt his numbers whereas Petro played on a lot of winning Blues teams and therefore benefitted where Faulk couldn’t.

Looking at the advanced statistics for Faulk I was surprised to see that Faulk’s Corsi for was 50.2. A score of 50 means you are average.

So 50.2 isn’t changing the game, but I was really surprised that he was even slightly above average. It starts to fall apart in the next few categories.

In the shots through percentage, which measures the number of your shot attempts that go on net, Faulk is at 46.3. Less than half of his shot attempts go on net. Shockingly, Vince Dunn is even worse at 44.9.

Here’s the stat that I know every single Blues fan sees and remembers. Justin Faulk is second on the team in giveaways. I’m sure we all can guess who is first on the team in giveaways. If you’re thinking Alex Pietrangelo you are correct.

I have been trying to come up with a nickname for Faulk. Then it dawned on me. Cardinal Nation has Mini-Pedro so now we Blue Bleeders have Mini-Petro.

It’s fitting. I’ll catch some heat for this I’m sure. Nevertheless, Mini-Petro it is! Faulk to me has done nothing but resemble the worst things in Pietrangelo’s game. At least with Petro, he is contributing to the score sheet regularly and that can be attributed to the time on the powerplay where over half his points have come from.

Give Mini-Petro the same opportunities and he’d maybe do the same thing. Just speculation of course. Pietrangelo’s Corsi for is 50.4 by the way. The one place they differ in advanced stats is their shots through where Petro has a 52.6. Logically that shots through percentage should be higher given you’re playing more minutes with the man advantage.

One other area they differ is +/- where the captain has a 0 and Mini Petro has a -6. What’s my point?

The point is that Doug Armstrong made a trade and signed a guy that given the same opportunities as Alex Pietrangelo offensively can and should replicate the same kind of numbers aside from the +/- category.

This isn’t an article to defend Faulk’s poor play, nor is it an article to bash the captain. Although I did both a little. I am just bringing to light some interesting stats. I am also trying to glean whatever I can from what is potentially going through GM Doug Armstrong’s mind.

Speaking of Dougie, he was at the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs game the other night. The long-running rumor has been Pietrangelo for William Nylander. It’s been in the rumor mill for what feels like a decade now.

Maybe he isn’t shopping the captain. Maybe he’s shopping Mini-Petro? He could also be shopping back-up Jake Allen since Toronto is in the market for a backup. It’s anyone’s guess why he was there.

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DETROIT – These Detroit Red Wings will avoid being on the inglorious end of team and NHL history, thanks in large part to Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina and Filip Hronek.

Each young player tallied three points Thursday to lift the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Little Caesars Arena.

The Red Wings (8-22-3) ended their 12-game losing streak (0-10-2), which was two short of the franchise record set in 1981-82 and five shy of the league record.

It was Detroit’s first victory in a month (Nov. 12, 4-3 in overtime at Anaheim).

Fabbri scored two goals and assisted on Zadina’s first of the season. Zadina assisted on both of Fabbri’s goals. Hronek sealed the outcome with an empty-net goal with 1:52 remaining and picked up a pair of assists.

Fabbri continues to pay big dividends after being acquired from St. Louis for fourth-line center Jacob de la Rose on Nov. 6. He has eight goals and 14 points in 16 games with the Red Wings.

Zadina continues to make a case to remain on the NHL roster. He has six points (goal, five assists) in his past five games.

Darren Helm also scored for Detroit. Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves.

Kyle Connor scored twice for Winnipeg (19-11-2), which was 13-3-2 in its past 18 games, including a 5-1 victory over the Red Wings on Tuesday.

The Red Wings were up 3-0 before Connor scored twice in the second period (7:16 and 12:57).

Zadina then scored a huge power-play goal with 23.8 seconds to play in the period, after Anthony Bitetto was called for roughing Adam Erne. Zadina’s shot from the right flank, his sweet spot, went off the post and in past Connor Hellebuyck.

The Red Wings outshot the Jets 14-5 and led 2-0 after the first period, one of their best 20-minute segments in some time.

Helm scored on a breakaway at 7:49, his fifth of the season. Nathan Beaulieu coughed up the puck in the neutral zone and then collided with a linesman.

Fabbri scored his first of the game at 13:47, when his pass attempted deflected in off of Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

Fabbri scored again at 3:35 of the second when the puck bounced in off of Pionk.

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Freshly recalled from the AHL, young Blues forwards Jordan Kyrou and Austin Poganski are expected to make their respective debuts tonight in Buffalo.

Kyrou, 21, will be making his 2019-20 season debut. For Poganski, 23, it will be his NHL debut.

Kyrou played 16 games with the Blues after making the club out of training camp a year ago and spent the rest of the season with the San Antonio Rampage. He suffered a kneecap injury requiring surgery late in the season and was limited to skating alone in 2019 Blues training camp while rehabbing. He was assigned to San Antonio and has been a prolific scorer, collecting 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 16 games.

A 2016 second-round draft pick, Kyrou has 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) in 64 career AHL regular-season games.

Poganski was a healthy scratch for five games with the Blues during his previous call-up, which ended Sunday so that he could play a game with San Antonio and shake off rust. He and Kyrou were recalled Monday.

Poganski, a fourth-round draft pick in 2014, has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 22 games with the Rampage this season.

Backup Jake Allen, who took over for Jordan Binnington in the first period of the Blues’ 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, will start in goal.

The projected lineup:

FORWARDS

David Perron – Ryan O’Reilly – Tyler Bozak

Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Jordan Kyrou

Ivan Barbashev – Robert Thomas – Troy Brouwer

Mackenzie MacEachern – Jacob de la Rose – Austin Poganski

DEFENSEMEN

Colton Parayko – Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester – Justin Faulk

Vince Dunn – Robert Bortuzzo

GOALIE

Jake Allen

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A year ago about now, Jay Bouwmeester was struggling on the ice as he came back from hip surgery and his playing future was in doubt. Once back to full health, the veteran defenseman became part of a shutdown pairing with Colton Parayko and signed a one-year contract extension right before the Blues began their Stanley Cup playoff march.

This season, at age 36, he’s kept right on going. He’s third on the team in ice time (21:26 per game), behind only Alex Pietrangelo and Parayko. (Only two players in the league, Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Chicago’s Duncan Keith, are older than Bouwmeester and recording more ice time.)

Has Bouwmeester thought about another season yet?

“I feel good,” he said Friday. “If I feel good, I’d like to continue to play. Last year, I was in the same boat, in the last year of my contract, and we approached it like, we’ll see how it goes and see what happens. In February, I talked with Doug (Armstrong, the Blues’ general manager) about if I wanted to do an extension. This year is different, we’ll see how it goes.”

One difference is that, since he has a one-year contract, he can’t sign an extension until after Jan. 1. Last year, he was coming off a multi-year deal and could sign a new deal once he entered the final year.

“It’s not a big deal,” Bouwmeester said. “Last year, I went through a lot of different scenarios. As long as you feel good, you want to keep playing. We’ll see what happens.”
Brouwer in?

Blues coach Craig Berube wants to get newly signed forward Troy Brouwer into the lineup as soon as he can. But the decision on when that game will be is out of his hands as Brouwer, who is from Canada, waits for his work visa.

As of the end of practice on Friday, Brouwer hadn’t gotten it, and that potentially could idle him for the weekend. The visa doesn’t have to be in his hands, but it does have to be issued.

While the official roster on Thursday night had Brouwer wearing No. 22, he said he would be wearing No. 36 for the Blues, as he did when he was with the team in 2015-16. Brouwer has worn 22 at several stops in his career, including last season in Florida. But as a Blue, he feels like he’s No. 36.

“I thought maybe it would be cool to have a new number for every team I went to,” Brouwer said. “Then I had such good success here (with 36), I thought I’d keep it in Calgary, and that didn’t pan out. So I changed my number again. Coming back to the Blues, I see myself as 36 on the Blues.”

Based on practice on Friday, if Brouwer does get in, Klim Kostin would come out.

Zach Sanford’s four-point game Thursday against Calgary surpassed his previous best, a three-point game vs. Chicago on Oct. 27, 2018. The link between them? The Blues were wearing their third jersey, the powder blue Winter Classic uniform. Sanford wore the retro 1990’s jersey on Thursday, so his two best games in terms of points have come at Enterprise Center, but neither wearing the team’s usual home jersey.

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The St. Louis Blues said forward Sammy Blais will be out at least 10 weeks due to a right wrist injury that requires surgery.

Blais, 23, suffered the injury during the team’s 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Blais has eight points (five goals, three assists) and 10 penalty minutes in 20 games this season, his third with the team.

With Blais out long term, Alex Steen sidelined with a high ankle sprain until early December and Vladimir Tarasenko expected to miss the rest of the regular season following shoulder surgery, the team on Wednesday signed winger Troy Brouwer to a $750,000, one-year deal.

The 34-year-old Brouwer, who had been practicing with the Blues on a professional tryout, was the team’s choice to sign over Jamie McGinn, who was also brought in for a tryout. A 13-year NHL veteran, Brouwer rejoins the Blues after playing the 2015-16 season in St. Louis.