As the top team in the West the Blues have much to brag about in both the worlds of fantasy and reality.
Currently on a four-game winning streak they did have a tough weekend injury-wise though, losing the formerly on-fire Jaden Schwartz who slowed a little lately with just a goal and two assists in his last six contests. He had been enjoying a career year up to this point with 14 goals and 21 assists in 30 games, second only to Brayden Schenn on the squad in scoring.
Now on the shelf until at least late January with a right ankle injury, they’ll continue to look to Vladimir Sobotka, now at top line left wing to replace Schwartz and help keep their conference lead. They currency have 44 standings points with a 21-8-2 record. Expect a possible uptick in production from Sobotka who filled in admirably for Alex Steen as the year began and has spend most of the campaign in a top-six role.
If he’s out there, which is probably only in shallower leagues, now might be the time to pick him up. With a solid six goals and 12 assists, and respectable 26 penalty minutes to go with 46 hits, Sobotka’s even more helpful now in both standard and multi-category leagues.
Ivan Barbashev gets another chance with the big squad as well, making his first NHL appearance since October Sunday after being recalled from AHL Chicago and taking two shots, killing penalties, and dishing out four hits in 12:35 TOI. The soon 22-year-old showed flashes of promise last year, even earning some time on the Tarasenko line, while landing five goals and seven assists with the Blues and doling out 45 hits.
Back to the injury front, d-man extraordinaire Alex Pietrangelo missed Sunday’s game after injuring his foot while blocking a Red Wing shot in their previous tilt. That shaves more production from St. Louis should the injury linger, as their start defenseman is also on a career-best scoring pace with seven goals and 16 assists in 30 contests.
His 23 points sits just beneath John Klingberg’s 25 and Drew Doughty’s 24 for best in the West. He’s considered day-to-day and will see if he can skate without much pain Monday before St. Louis prognosticates about his future.
If he’s out for a while, Colton Parayko could see increased minutes and he’s not having a bad year himself with three goals and 14 assists in total, matching Petro with two goals and four assists on the power play. He’s also close to Pietrangelo in blocks with 42 compared to the ten-year vet’s 49. At third-best in the West, Joel Edmundson tops the club with 79 blocks.
Expect more minutes from rookie Vince Dunn as well, who could take up some first-unit power play slack if needed and reached 18 minutes TOI Sunday for the first time in two weeks.
And when we’re talking injuries, let’s not forget Carter Hutton who hit the IR list Friday with a lower body injury during morning skate necessitating Blues’ season ticket holder Tyler Stewart serve as emergency backup goalie until Ville Husso could be transported from the AHL. Hutton’s had a spectacular opening to the year, with a .937 save percentage, 1.88 goals-against, and 4-2-0 record in eight contests. An extended stay on the injured list would eat into Jake Allen’s rest.
Look for St. Louis to at least approach their early season success even in the face of these setbacks - as long as Tarasenko, Schenn, Stastny (in the midst of his best year scoring since his last with Colorado – 60 points in 2013-14), Parayko and Allen stay healthy until some of the wounded make it back on the ice.
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