NHL Weekend Preview: Will Jordan Kyrou Score Versus Islanders, Devils?

Jordan Kyrou, then with the San Antonio Rampage (Image: AHL / Wikimedia Commons)
Jordan Kyrou, then with the San Antonio Rampage (Image: AHL / Wikimedia Commons)

Since the NHL’s All-Star break, the St. Louis Blues have rocketed into Stanley Cup contention.

The Blues played eight games in February, with seven coming against teams already out of the playoff picture: New Jersey, Ottawa, Montreal, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Chicago (twice). Craig Berube’s side also faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking care of business with a thrilling 6-3 road win.

St. Louis’ scalp on the bank of Lake Ontario was a statement performance – one that forced Western Conference rivals to take notice of their progress. Since All-Star Weekend, the Blues are 6-2-1, a stretch that saw them vault the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild into second in the Central Division.

Now, with just 29 regular-season games left to play, the Blues are entering a pivotal moment.

They’re midway through a five-game road-trip – a run that will determine how they are seeded in the playoffs. Berube’s team started their away stretch well, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in a one-sided contest.

In their next game, the Blues were beaten 5-3 by the resurgent New York Rangers. It was, however, a contest St. Louis should’ve won, especially after overturning a 2-0 deficit with three goals on three shots in a two-minute span in the middle frame.

Ultimately, though, the Blues fell apart after Colton Parayko flipped the puck over the glass 10 minutes before the final buzzer. The Rangers scored on the resulting power play – and put the game on ice shortly after.

On Saturday, St. Louis will aim to bounce back against the New York Islanders, before turning their attention to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Handily for hockey fans in the UK, both games are early face-offs – and British Ice Hockey has you covered with everything you need to know before puck drop.

New York Islanders .vs. St. Louis Blues

Tune into the NHL Network at 17:30 (GMT) on Saturday 5 March to watch St. Louis take on the Islanders.

Noah Dobson Makes Strides for the Islanders

Although this season hasn’t gone to plan for the Islanders, they remain a team who could hurt St. Louis. Zach Parise and Matt Barzal have each registered 17 points since New Year’s Day, with the New Yorkers improving their record to 20-22-8 on the season.

Defenceman Noah Dobson has also excelled since the turn of the year, putting up 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 23 appearances from Barry Trotz’s blueline. The 22-year-old has made significant progress this season – and is starting to show why the Islanders selected him 12th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

As the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline approaches, Islanders on expiring contracts have a lot on the line.

If they capture lightning in a bottle before 21 March, they could end the season on a Stanley Cup contender. If they continue to underwhelm, they’ll play out 2021-22 on a team headed nowhere fast.

As a result, Cal Clutterbuck, Andy Greene, Zdeno Chara, and Parise will be worth keeping an eye on versus the Blues.

Blues Goaltending Controversy: Will Husso or Binnington Prevail?

For St. Louis, goaltending is the hot topic of the hour.

Thanks to an imperious run of form, Ville Husso stole the crease from Jordan Binnington last month.

The 27-year-old has a .931 save percentage and is 13-4-2 on the season. In the final year of his league-minimum contract, Husso is an unrestricted free agent in the summer and set to earn a significant pay rise.

The Finn’s goals-against average of 2.13 is a significant improvement on Binnington’s 3.12 and has outperformed his Stanley Cup-winning rival when called upon. However, Husso conceded cheaply to Ryan Strome versus the Rangers on Wednesday and has allowed three-plus goals in his last four appearances.

Binnington, meanwhile, has saved 55 of the last 56 shots he’s faced and is starting to click back into gear.

“We talked about these two months coming up that you need both goalies, and there’s going to be a lot of rotation because of the games,” Berube said earlier this week, “I believe that’s the way to go.”

On Saturday, we’ll be one game closer to finding out who controls the crease in St. Louis.

Will it be Husso or Binnington who heads into the postseason with the upper hand?

New Jersey Devils .vs. St. Louis Blues

Tune into the NHL Network at 18:00 on Sunday 6 March to watch the Blues face off against New Jersey.

Jordan Kyrou Aims to Bounce Back

On Sunday, the focus will be on St. Louis’ forwards – including breakout star Jordan Kyrou.

Kyrou has eight points (four goals, four assists) since winning the fastest skater competition at All-Star Weekend, playing a key role for the Blues as they attempt to secure home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

Although the 23-year-old has 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 49 appearances this season, Berube feels the Canadian has been “a little off” recently.

“There’s going to be times that I’m tough on him and times when I’m a father figure to him,” Berube explained. “I want to help him as much as I can, because he’s a great player.”

In the eyes of his head coach, Kyrou’s quality is so high that even eight points in nine games feels like a dip.

Jordan Kyrou (left), playing in the 2019 AHL All-Star Game (Image: AHL / Wikimedia Commons)
Jordan Kyrou (left), playing in the 2019 AHL All-Star Game (Image: AHL / Wikimedia Commons)

Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich are also key pieces of Berube’s offensive zone puzzle, both have registered 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) this term. David Perron has also sparked into life of late, accruing eight points (four goals, four assists) in his nine appearances since All-Star Weekend.

Devils’ Jack Hughes is in the Flow

However, Ryan O’Reilly, the team’s captain, is focused on how St. Louis fare defensively this weekend.

“I think we were just a little nervous,” O’Reilly said of the Blues’ final period collapse versus the Rangers.

“We know they’re a very good offensive team and we just kind of got thinking a little bit too much instead of skating and supporting each other, and they made us pay. They’re a good offensive team. We’ll learn from it and we’ll respond.”

And, given the quality and form of New Jersey’s offensive options, it’s important the Blues stand strong in their own end.

Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Yegor Sharangovich have found form since All-Star Weekend – and will be dangerous again versus the Blues.

Of the three, Hughes, the first overall pick from 2019, is the player to watch. He’s potted 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his last six appearances and is finally justifying his lofty draft selection.

Will Jordan Kyrou score this weekend? Join the conversation by tweeting @BritIceHockey.


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