The St. Louis Blues have hit their lowest point of the 2022-23 season. They aren’t winning games and can’t get away from injury issues. When one player comes back, another one hits the shelf. The vision for the rest of this season is becoming clearer – get a good draft pick.
The 2023 Draft class is set to be one of the deepest in recent memory. There are elite prospects like Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov, and others at the top. It’s a deep class and the Blues can greatly benefit from that, especially if they fetch a first-round pick at the trade deadline. The Blues are 23-24-3 and eight points out of a playoff spot with one game to play before the All-Star break. They’re not in a good spot right now.
Losing Streak for Blues Reaches Four Games
This isn’t your average four-game losing streak for the Blues. They’ve lost to some bad opponents along the way. A Saturday night loss to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks started this streak. They lost on Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres in a game that wasn’t as close as the 5-3 final score. The Sabres jumped on them to take a 4-0 lead in the second period. The Blues got it to 4-3, but their terrible results with the sixth skater continued as the Sabres scored an empty netter. Younger and faster teams have dominated the Blues this season. Both of their matchups against the Sabres proved that.
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Their next loss was the worst of the season. They went into Mullet Arena for the first time to play the Arizona Coyotes. The Blues got early pressure in the first period, but couldn’t score. The Coyotes took the game over and got a quick 2-0 lead in the second period. It got uglier from there as the Coyotes won the game 5-0. Losing that way to one of the worst teams in the league is a new low for this team. It’s not like the Blues are a good team, but they shouldn’t lose to Arizona like that. The fourth loss of the streak was at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues showed zero to no life in this game, as they trailed 3-0 in the second period before scoring. They lost 4-2 after allowing another empty-net goal.
The story of the season for the Blues has been constant multi-goal deficits. They have trailed at least 3-0 in every game of this losing skid. The poor defense has been the biggest downfall of the season. Their offense has also taken a big step back from last season, as they’ve gone from third in goals per game to 22nd. Roster construction is a problem and the blame lies at the feet of general manager Doug Armstrong.
Thomas and Buchnevich are Both Injured
After putting Pavel Buchnevich on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, Robert Thomas got hurt against the Coyotes. Thomas is day to day, but I wouldn’t expect him to return until after the All-Star break. Buchnevich, meanwhile, won’t be re-evaluated until after the break. He has been dealing with a lingering ankle issue for quite some time. Outside of Jordan Kyrou, these two have been the Blues’ best offensive players this season. Their absence in the lineup is an issue for a team that is already struggling.
Thomas ranks second on the team with 43 points, while Buchnevich is third with 38 points. They both play a major role and will do so for many seasons to come. The Blues need to keep losing in order to solidify their draft spot, but they won’t approach it that way. Hopefully, they can get these two back soon.
Tarasenko Returns to Boost Trade Value
Vladimir Tarasenko made his return to the ice after a little over three weeks of being injured. He has played three games since his return and it’s been tough to watch. While the Blues are collectively playing poorly, Tarasenko has also struggled mightily. However, he was terrific last season and has been good for parts of this season. His trade value will be high as long as he is healthy. He has had a lot of success in the playoffs and will likely improve in a better situation.
Through 37 games this season, he’s scored 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points. It’s not surprising that his numbers are down from last season. I also think that the Blues being below average this season has played a role in his struggles. A team will want him for the playoffs, though. In 90 career playoff games, he has 41 goals and 19 assists for 60 points. When the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019, he had 11 goals in 26 games.
I expect teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and others to pursue him at the deadline. However, the Blues shouldn’t let him go for less than a first-round pick and a prospect. Preferably, the prospect is close to being NHL-ready since the Blues are retooling rather than rebuilding.
Blues’ Week Ahead
- Monday: at Winnipeg Jets (31-19-1, 63 points), 7 PM
The Blues have one more game before the break. They head to play the Winnipeg Jets, who have been impressive this season. The Blues are 0-2-0 against the Jets this season and have been outscored 9-2 in those games. It would be unsurprising to see them head into the break with a five-game losing streak. Unfortunately, things will get worse before they get better in St. Louis.
Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.