Category Archives: St.Louis Blues Store

Oskar Sundqvist Jersey

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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.

Alexander Steen Jersey

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ST. LOUIS — Prior to Saturday night’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the St. Louis Blues received encouraging news on two members of the fourth line that was so crucial in their 2019 Stanley Cup victory.

Though Oskar Sundqvist was placed on injured reserve on Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury in Wednesday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Craig Berube announced Saturday that Sundqvist’s prognosis is significantly better than initially thought. At minimum, the 25-year-old forward will miss Saturday’s game as well as road matchups with the Blackhawks and Penguins this coming week, as he’s required to sit out at least a week while on IR. But Berube said Sundqvist could still accompany the team on the road trip and begin working his way back into game shape, categorizing his status as week-to-week.

After a breakout 2018-19 campaign in which he collected 14 goals and 17 assists in 74 games, Sundqvist has again been impressive this season, scoring eight goals with four assists while serving in a variety of roles throughout the lineup.

Meanwhile, veteran forward Alexander Steen took a major step in his recovery on Saturday, skating for the first time since suffering an ankle sprain on November 6. At the time of his injury, the team said Steen would be re-evaluated in four weeks, so his return to the ice is certainly good news as he progresses toward a return.

Steen, who had 10 goals and 17 assists in 65 games last season, has five assists through 17 contests in 2019-20.

Brayden Schenn Jersey

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Reigning NHL MVP Nikita Kucherov remains out of the lineup after absorbing a devastating hit from the St. Louis Blues’ Brayden Schenn in Tuesday’s game.

Kucherov had just passed the puck when Schenn plowed into him with a clean, hard check, causing the Tampa Bay Lightning star to hit his back and head on the ice.

Kucherov got up slowly as Erik Cernak went after Schenn and a scrum broke out. He went to the locker room and didn’t return.

The Lightning said after the game that Kucherov had an upper-body injury and coach Jon Cooper told reporters that it wasn’t concussion-related.

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He was ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and is considered day-to-day.

The Russian forward was voted league MVP last season after recording a league-best 77 assists and 128 points as the Lightning tied an NHL record with 62 wins. He has 18 points in 18 games this season.

Zach Sanford Jersey

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Zach Sanford, who missed the final two periods on Saturday night with an upper-body injury, didn’t skate with the Blues at practice on Sunday and probably won’t play on Tuesday against Buffalo.

Just who will is still unclear. Neither Oskar Sundqvist nor Alexander Steen practiced with the team on Sunday, and Austin Poganski was sent back to San Antonio on Sunday morning. That left the Blues with only 11 forwards.

“We’ll get somebody up here,” coach Craig Berube said.

The most likely candidate, with the team looking for an offensive boost at the moment, is Jordan Kyrou, who has been making good progress in San Antonio. The Rampage play in Toronto on Sunday afternoon, so it would be easy enough for Kyrou, or someone else, to play there, stay over and drive to Buffalo — it’s not far — and join the team there when they arrive on Monday afternoon.

As for Sanford, Berube said: “He couldn’t go out today. Right now, he’s probably not available. We’ll see. We’ll see how he does tomorrow.”

And about Sundqvist and Steen he said: “They are probably going to go on the trip just so they can skate with us. We’re going to skate them tomorrow then they’ll skate with the team Tuesday in Buffalo.”

The Blues had a function with season ticket holders, so they practiced on Sunday. The team — other than injured players — won’t practice on Monday before the team heads to Buffalo for a quick one-game trip.

Austin Poganski Jersey

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ST. LOUIS – A day after Oskar Sundqvist returned to the lineup, the St. Louis Blues appear to be on the verge of getting another injured player back.

The Blues assigned forward Austin Poganski to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio on Friday, clearing a roster spot for the potential return of Alexander Steen.

Sundqvist had a goal and an assist in the Blues’ win over Vegas on Thursday, his first game after missing six with a lower-body injury. Steen has been out with a high ankle sprain since Nov. 6. He was placed on injured reserve in the wake of a collision with Oilers forward Alex Chiasson.

Forward Zach Sanford also appears to be nearing a return from an upper-body injury he suffered Saturday against Toronto, but he was not placed on IR and remains on the active roster.

Poganski’s second NHL call-up led to his NHL debut Tuesday in Buffalo. He was on the ice for 5:54 but did not dent the scoresheet. The 23-year-old has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 22 games with the Rampage this season.

David Perron Jersey

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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.

Tyler Bozak Jersey

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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

Robert Bortuzzo Jersey

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St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has been suspended four games for his cross-check of Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson.

The Predators announced that Arvidsson will miss four to six weeks with a lower-body injury as a result of the hit in the first period of Saturday night’s game. The 26-year-old Arvidsson was initially cross-checked into the Blues’ net by Bortuzzo, earning him a minor penalty.

Bortuzzo turned to the official to express his outrage, then put his hands back on his stick and forcefully cross-checked Arvidsson in an unpadded area of his lower back. The NHL announced after the game that Bortuzzo would get a phone hearing.

According to the Department of Player Safety, the act alone would typically lead to only a fine, rather than a suspension. That was the case in October 2017, when Bortuzzo was fined the maximum allowed ($3,091.40) under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for cross-checking New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson while Nelson was down on the ice — a “very similar play” to the Arvidsson incident, although at the time, “he didn’t have the history,” according to Player Safety.

But this time, Bortuzzo was a repeat offender, having been suspended three games (two preseason games, one regular-season game) for elbowing Michal Kempny of the Washington Capitals in September 2018. That, combined with the injury to Arvidsson and a history of similar acts, raised this incident to the level of a four-game suspension rather than a fine.

“This is a forceful crosscheck, delivered well away from the puck, on a vulnerable opponent, and for no other reason but frustration,” the NHL said in a video announcing the suspension.

Arvidsson, who skated in his 300th career game, had an assist to help the Predators snap a six-game losing streak. Arvidsson has 15 points in 22 games after scoring 34 goals last season.

The 30-year-old Bortuzzo is in his sixth season with St. Louis. Bortuzzo is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, will forfeit $67,073.16. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Jordan Binnington Jersey

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Croyez-le ou non, Jordan Binnington est humain. Samedi à St. Louis, le gardien des Blues a subi un premier crochet en saison régulière après avoir cédé quatre buts aux Maple Leafs de Toronto en 13 minutes de jeu. Une rare fausse note pour l’incontestable gardien par excellence de l’année 2019.

La seule autre fois où l’entraîneur des Blues, Craig Berube, a retiré Binnington fut lors du troisième duel de la finale de la Coupe Stanley contre les Bruins de Boston, un revers de 7-2 des Blues dans lequel le sauveur des Blues a accordé cinq buts sur 19 tirs en une période et demie.

Dans la défaite de samedi contre les Leafs, Binnington en était à son 79e départ sur les 100 matchs de l’année 2019 des Blues, séries incluses évidemment. C’est 30 départs en 43 matchs dans la seconde portion de la saison 2018-19, 26 sur 26 dans les séries et 23 sur 31 dans la saison actuelle.

79 matchs en 11 mois

Un total de 79 matchs en 11 mois, c’est du gros boulot, surtout pour un jeune homme qui n’avait que trois parties d’expérience dans la LNH avant de relancer les Blues à l’âge de 25 ans. De plus, il a livré 60 performances de qualité sur 79, pour un superbe ratio de 76 %. C’est le summum.

Difficile de demander mieux comme indicateur de constance en plus d’un taux d’efficacité de 0,921 en 79 parties, mais au-delà des statistiques, Binnington a surtout été à l’origine de l’une des plus grandes remontées de l’histoire de la LNH. Les Blues étaient à 11 points d’une place en séries éliminatoires avant son premier départ, le 7 janvier, un jeu blanc de 3-0 à Philadelphie.

En séries éliminatoires, le Torontois a été fumant, aidant les Blues à combler des retards de 3-2 contre les Stars de Dallas, et de 2-1 contre les Sharks de San Jose ainsi que les
Bruins de Boston. Il n’a accordé qu’un seul but lors des deux numéro sept, une victoire de 4-1 en grande finale contre les Bruins de Boston et une autre de 2-1 en deuxième période de prolongation face aux Stars au deuxième tour.

Il a démontré tellement d’aplomb dans son duel contre Ben Bishop qui brillait de tous ses feux devant la cage des Stars. Bishop était bombardé et deux fois plus occupé et c’est justement dans ces moments que l’esprit d’un gardien inactif tend à divaguer, surtout dans un match d’une telle importance.

Binnington n’a jamais cligné des yeux. En plus de la constance, il a démontré une capacité exceptionnelle à gagner les gros matchs. Qu’il reçoive 20 ou 40 tirs, Binnington reste le même, soir après soir.

Et ça se poursuit, cette saison. Il a certainement eu toutes les raisons du monde de perdre son focus au cours de l’été, mais il a gardé le cap. Pour la première fois, Binnington vient de perdre deux matchs d’affilée de saison régulière en temps réglementaire.

Ça viendra certainement, peut-être même cette semaine, mais ses séries de victoires sont nettement plus remarquables. Il a connu deux séquences de cinq victoires la saison dernière et une de huit. Cette saison, il en a déjà une de cinq.

Peu importe ce qui se passe d’ici le 31 décembre, Jordan Binnington mérite amplement le titre de gardien de l’année 2019 et c’est franchement incontestable malgré le brio de quelques autres, dont Tuukka Rask, des Bruins, et Ben Bishop, des Stars.

De plus, Binnington semble avoir inspiré son auxiliaire, Jake Allen qui joue mieux après un début de saison difficile.

Jake Allen Jersey

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CHICAGO — Jake Allen knows that this hot streak can go the other way at any time.

But he’ll do his best to maintain where he’s at how, and that’s on the hot side of it, after a 4-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday at United Center, the 20th of his NHL career which tied him for second in franchise history with Jaroslav Halak.

Allen’s rise from the start of the season is giving the Blues (18-5-6) one of the best, if not the best, goalie tandems in the league.

But after backstopping all 38 Chicago shots, including 17 in the third period, Allen is 5-0-2 on the road this season with a 2.11 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. Going back 13 regular-season road games, Allen is 7-1-5 with a 2.04 GAA and .935 save percentage.

His teammates see the Allen that was so incredibly good against the Minnesota Wild in the the 2017 first round of the playoffs, one in which helped the Blues stun Minnesota in a five-game series win and again in the second round against the Nashville Predators.

“Yeah, he’s dialed in,” Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said of Allen. “He’s in the zone, making huge saves, timely saves for us. We know how good of a goalie he is.

“Every player, every goalie has a rough few months or an off year in their career, and he’s a guy that just continues to work and continues … even when he’s not playing, he comes to the rink and he’s working and he’s getting better. Yeah, you can see how good of a goalie he is, and you can tell he’s confident right now.”

Yes, Allen is confident, and it was on full display silencing the United Center crowd, and for that matter, aside from an 18-second stretch at American Airlines Center last Friday against Dallas when the game was tied 1-1, Allen silenced that crowd. He silenced the crowd in Edmonton too. It’s what a goalie does, one that’s thriving on the road, and one that’s helping his team win again on a nightly basis.

“Yes and no. A lot of people don’t believe me when I say it, but I find it really tough to get into the crowd,” Allen said. “I’m sort of in my own mindset during the game. For me, the crowd doesn’t really do a whole lot. It’s just ironic how this whole situations played out.

“I don’t know (about feeling dialed in). I probably said it a couple weeks ago, I’m trying to get better every single time for me right now. That was my goal the first couple games of the year. I sat down and I said, ‘Let’s try to get better every single time.’ It starts at that point. Now I’m getting some games and closer to consecutive days gets you a little more in the groove. I’m just trying to give the boys a chance, and guys are playing great hockey in front of me.”

Countless times during his career, more so in the past couple seasons, Blues fans have been so divided on Allen. They either love him or have a dislike for him. Those that have loved him remember the guy that began his career with such promise and one that can display that dominant No. 1 form at any time. And then there are those that saw the struggles in recent seasons, one that saw Jordan Binnington come in and supplant him as the No. 1 netminder last season and help the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup. The season before, Carter Hutton challenged him for the cage, and Brian Elliott before that.

But what has not been forgotten is that Allen, 29, took his role as the backup last in stride, like a guy that has the team in mind even though from a personal standpoint, wants to be the guy, but is willing to do whatever it takes.

The Blues were so high on Allen at one point, general manager Doug Armstrong rewarded him with a four-year, $17.4 million contract on July 1, 2016. There are days when people felt like he’s earned it, and there are those that have felt like he hasn’t.

Whatever the feelings are, one thing Allen has done is continue to drive himself to be at his best, even though there are nights when nothing would go right, but Allen has always driven himself to do what’s best for the Blues, and that’s one of the reasons why teammates love him.

“Yeah, he’s a mentally tough kid,” Schwartz said. “He doesn’t give up on himself obviously. It’s never easy when you have a tough week or two. It’s never easy mentally and he’s done a great job of just continuing to work, believing in himself and he knows we’ve got all the belief in him. So, I think it’s just his work ethic, working with Davie (Alexander) and Binner, they do a great job every day and you can just tell when a guy is focused – just the way that he prepares — that he’s ready to keep building, and I think he’s got that mojo back.”

Monday’s game is a perfect example of Allen at his best. Being positionally and fundamentally sound, being square to shooters, coming out to challenge shooters and not back himself into the blue paint, control rebounds, use his teammates effectively and make the saves he isn’t expected to make.

That’s when teammates really have your back.