Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (17) attempts to wrap the puck in around Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37). (Photo courtesy: Michael Dwyer, AP Photo)
2/6: Blues/Jets, Enterprise Center, 7pm CT – FSMW, ESPN 101.1
ST. LOUIS – After a disappointing end to Alex Steen’s 1000th game, the St. Louis Blues (32-14-8) can make it right with a rematch against the Winnipeg Jets (26-23-5). After scoring less than three goals per game in their last six games, the Blues put up a touchdown on former Blue Joel Edmundson and the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-3. Justin Faulk scored one assist against his former club and Brayden Schenn netted two power play goals.
Zach Sanford also had two goals, a single game career-high, and extended his point streak to a career-high six games (4-5-9). “I’ve got my game dialed in,” he said, “in what I need to do and I can check those things off throughout or after the game and I’m pretty happy.”
The Jets took the Blues down on Saturday 5-2 but dropped a heartbreaker against the Predators on Tuesday, falling back to 6th in the Central Division. “They did a good job blocking shots,” captain Blake Wheeler said after the game. “We didn’t get everything through, probably didn’t have as much net-front traffic as we could have. Just couldn’t capitalize.”
The Blues and Jets meet for the fourth and final time this season, with the Blues going 2-1-0 in the series. St. Louis will celebrate Steen’s 1000 game milestone on home ice tonight on Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN 101.1.
Zach Sanford’s Hot Streak
An unlikely candidate for the hottest St. Louis skater right now, Zach Sanford set a career-high six-game point streak after netting a pair against Carolina. In six games, Sanford now has four goals and five assists for nine points, well above a point-per-game average. While Sanford has always had his moments in flashes, the recent play may suggest this is the potential top-6 forward Blues fans have been waiting for.
“His confidence is really high right now,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I think you’re seeing what we want to see, what his potential is. He’s a big guy that’s got great hands and when he wants to be, he’s a strong guy and he’s playing a strong, heavy game right now. His talent’s coming through.”
While sometimes a by-product of playing alongside the top point-getters on the team in Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron, Sanford has at least left his mark with his scoring differential and hits, of which Sanford leads the trio in both.
“I think it all ties back into the little things that I’ve been talking about, physicality and moving my feet and when I’m doing that the points will come,” Sanford said. “I’ve just been doing a good job hanging on to the puck, getting in on the forecheck and playing physical. Especially those games on the last road trip, I think I was hitting a lot more than I had been and it definitely has helped out.”
Trade Rumors Swell
The first major deadline trade fell last night, after the Leafs traded Trevor Moore and picks for Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell. As trade rumors continue to swirl in an albeit unexciting deadline, the Blues #1 interest continues to be Chris Kreider. Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts blog also highlighted potential interest in Panthers forward Mike Hoffman, who becomes a UFA next season:
“If St. Louis is not [Kreider’s] eventual destination, one of the Blues’ fallback options would be Florida’s Mike Hoffman. St. Louis considered him twice before, and did extensive research before Ottawa traded him. Of course, the Panthers have to decide if they’re going to go this route. They are looking for some defensive help. In their last 25 games, they’ve given up fewer than 28 shots just once.”
While the asking price from Florida may be too high for a player like Mike Hoffman, the 30-year-old forward was a beast for Ottawa during the 2016-17 playoff run, and has put up even better numbers since, putting up 36 goals and 70 points in his first season with Florida. Hoffman has 19 goals and 42 points through 52 games this season.
The Blues are 11-0-1 in their last 12 games at home, the fourth-longest home point streak in franchise history… Brayden Schenn has a four-game point streak against Winnipeg (1G, 3A) … Ryan O’Reilly is tied for 13th in the league in assists
The Blues and Jets wrap up the season series tonight on home ice, with Mathieu Perreault out with an upper-body injury for the Jets. The Blues play at 8pm ET on Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN 101.1 tonight, with a special pregame ceremony for Alex Steen’s 1000th game.
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