Historic Run Catapults Blues Back Into Contention

Historic Run Catapults Blues Back Into Contention 

By Brett Wiseman

February 22, 2019

There's a saying in life that “all good things must come to an end”,and in Dallas last night, they did. The Blues franchise-record setting 11-game win streak came to a disheartening end in a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. But what’s to be thought of is not the fact that the streak is over, it’s the massive accomplishment it is for the Blues, especially considering where they were a month ago.

The Blues have gone from last place in the Western Conference to third place in the Central Division in the span of just one month. The team showed glimmers of improvement going into the All-Star Break, and after an impassioned All-Star Media Day speech from team point leader Ryan O’Reilly all but guaranteeing the Blues would find a way to turn things around and get in the hunt, they did.

Looking at the statistics from a truly astonishing run no one saw coming make it all the more an astounding accomplishment. The Blues went 30 days between losses, and broke a long-standing franchise record for consecutive wins. Going an entire month without losing a single game in this league is a tremendous feat. On top of that, St. Louis did not trail in a game for a consecutive 517 minutes and 28 seconds. Just take that in for a second. They shut out opponents for a consecutive 233 minutes and 50 seconds during the win streak, the second longest shutout streak in franchise history. St. Louis outscored opponents 43-16, averaging 3.9 goals per game and only 1.5 goals against. They averaged only one even strength goal against, and pole vaulted themselves from sixth to third in the Central Division, and 25th to 14th in the league overall.

All these stats are absolutely stunning. And it begs the question, who is this team and what have they done with the St. Louis Blues of the first half? The answer is simple: interim head coach Craig Berube. The Blues have the best record in the league since Berube took over on November 18th, and “Chief” has coached with the same intensity and fervor he played with during his NHL playing career. It’s clear to anyone who’s watched a sliver of this team lately they’re playing for one another, and doing so with physicality, hard work, tight defense and heavy forechecking. Berube has gotten the message across to this team about how talented they are, and they’re finally playing up to it. They’ve finally gelled together as a cohesive unit. Breube deserves a tremendous amount of credit for this astonishing turnaround.

There have also been tremendous individual performances across this streak. A struggling Vladimir Tarasenko exploded for a twelve game point streak during the winning stretch, including five multi-point outings. The play of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington has been a shock and an uplifting story for everyone in the league. The once-career minor leaguer is an incredible 13-2-1 in his first 16 NHL starts, and had won nine straight starts until the defeat in Dallas. Binnington’s 1.75 goals against average and .931 save percentage are some of the best numbers from a rookie goaltender in franchise history, and while a ton of credit goes to him, the team has played incredibly great defense in front of him to limit chances, thanks to the implementation of a revamped defensive style by assistant coach Mike Van Noy. Jay Bouwmeester has elevated his play as well. After a sluggish start, the veteran defenseman is a whopping +26 since Berube took over behind the bench.

Everyone on this roster, top to bottom, is contributing. They’re playing with passion, confidence, energy, efficiency, toughness, and togetherness. This team is a shell of what it was a month ago, and have put themselves in contention. And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.

PHOTOS: Tom Gannam, AP Photo

Billy Hurst/AP Photo