Blue Collar Weekly: Sammy Blais

David Backes is down after a big hit delivered by Sammy Blais in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. (NHL photo)

Welcome to Blue Collar Weekly, where I choose one lucky Blues hockey player to wear the Blue Collar of greatness for a week. I will judge the players by their elevated gameplay and heavy stats. I will also mention other favorable stats from the current regular season, career highs, and milestones.

This week, the “Blue-Collar goes to…”

Sammy Blais

After a Stanley Cup win in 2018-19 and produced 3 points and 70 hits in 15 games. The 6ft 2″ 205 lb St.Louis Blues forward has gotten off to a quick and efficient start.

Signed sealed and delivered:

The Quebec native started the offseason in July by signing a one-year, $850,000 contract with the team that drafted him in the 6th round(176th overall) back in 2014. The young winger has turned out to be the most productive player in that 6th round. Only 2-3 other players in that 6th rd even made it to the NHL. Most were short-lived.

Big Hits and Size :

Skating with relentless hitting style and a timely forecheck, Blais has been all over the opposition with 19 hits in just six games. Last season he was in the Blues Top 10 for hits with 93 in only 32 regular-season games. Furthermore, his play elevated in the playoffs, where he had 17 hits. One of those hits was delivered to ex-Blues captain David Backes in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Take a look here in this video below.

https://www.nhl.com/blues/video/blais-huge-hit-on-backes/t-277437432/c-68365603

Not sure how many people have noticed, but in Sammy’s first year of juniors, he was only a scanty 5ft 9″. Right now, as a pro, he towers at 6ft 2 1/2″, so what kind of milk was Blais drinking? I might want some, please!

But for real quite the late bloomer, and I’m pretty sure he was practicing a tremendous overall healthy lifestyle with lots of exercises and stretching.

Berube’s Early Influence:

Heres an interview where Blais discusses Berube’s influence on his physical game early in his AHL career with Chicago Wolves.

https://www.nhl.com/blues/video/nhl-now-sammy-blais/t-277437432/c-68402303

Line Chemistry

Sammy has been playing on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. They seem to be developing some great chemistry, and most noteworthy have combined for 17 points and a plus/minus of +9 when on the ice.

 First five games:  

Last 5 Games Table
Scoring Goals Assists
Rk Date Tm Opp G A PTS +/- PIM EV PP SH GW EV PP SH S S% SHFT TOI HIT BLK FOW FOL FO%
1 2019-10-14 STL @ NYI L-OT 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.0 18 15:11 2 0 0 0
2 2019-10-12 STL @ MTL L 1 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100.0 24 15:46 4 1 0 0
3 2019-10-10 STL @ OTT W 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.0 17 14:09 3 2 0 0
4 2019-10-07 STL @ TOR W 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 13 11:02 3 1 0 0
5 2019-10-05 STL DAL W 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 50.0 19 14:50 5 0 0 0
2019-20: Complete Gamelog | Scoring Log | Advanced Stats | Splits
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/16/2019.

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The Scoring Touch:

NHL Standard career statistics
Scoring Goals Assists Shots Ice Time
Season Age Tm Lg GP G A PTS +/- PIM EV PP SH GW EV PP SH S S% TSA TOI ATOI FOW FOL FO% BLK HIT TK GV Awards
2019-20 23 STL NHL 6 3 2 5 4 2 3 0 0 1 2 0 0 10 30.0 14 86 14:17 0 0 4 19 3 4
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/16/2019.

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Blais has three goals and two assists through six games so far. I know it’s only six games, but his shooting percentage is 30% at the moment. It’s a long 82 game schedule, so the percentage will decline some overtime. But wouldn’t it be something if Sammy had his best year ever.

With these kinds of early numbers, he’s on pace to score 40 goals. We all know this most likely won’t happen. But I’m willing to consider it given the linemates he’s playing with. In this unpredictable game of hockey, anything can happen!

Check out the Frenchman’s AHL numbers. They are good as you can see Blais had 104 points in 143 AHL games. Even more noticeable is the fact that in the same year he played for Chicago with Berube in 2016-17, he flourished. As a result, he delivered his best AHL year scoring 26 goals adding 17 assists and a plus/minus of +11.

Other Standard career statistics
Scoring
Season Age Tm Lg GP G A PTS +/- PIM
2016-17 20 Chicago Wolves AHL 75 26 17 43 11 58
2017-18 21 San Antonio Rampage AHL 42 17 23 40 -10 38
2018-19 22 San Antonio Rampage AHL 26 8 10 18 -8 55
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/16/2019.

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No Hype:

What’s great about Blais is that he was never hyped up to be “the new sensation.” If you think of previously drafted youngsters like, say, Patrik Berglund, for instance, who the Blues touted as the next big thing!

There has never been this big cloud hanging over his head where he has the burden of trying to live up to all these pretentious expectations. They drafted him and developed him in the minor league system. As a result, he has been molded into the player that the Blues need at all times.

My Thoughts…

Honestly, I find him to be the most intriguing young player on the current Blues squad. I see him only getting better, and with his hard work ethic and mixed with that speed and skill; he will increase his overall end game.

My one question is, will Blais and Perron teach O’Reilly how to speak French? I mean, ROR can pretty much do anything and everything. I say, why not?

I would like to wish Sammy good luck with the rest of his season and congratulate him on earning this week’s Blue-Collar Award! I’m sure he will win it more than once by year’s end.

I leave you with an important reminder from this memorable quote by the late great Martin Luther King:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” 

Martin Luther King

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