Blues Start 2016 Season Strong

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues couldn't have asked for a better start to the 2016-17 season. If it wasn't for a few injuries suffered against the Rangers it would have been a picture perfect start. 

The Blues finished week one of the regular season with a 3-0-1 record, taking 7 of a possible 8 points. They have been led by the familiar face of Vladimir Tarasenko who hasn't notched 4 goals so far. 

But it's been the play of Paul Stastny that has carried the team in the early going. Stastny has gotten to the nasty parts in front of the net for two goals and his faceoff ability and vision have allowed him to set up 4 other goals. 

The defense and goaltending have been outstanding as well, allowing 2 goals per game against some potentially high powered teams. The 5-2 win against Chicago opening night in Chicago was especially impressive. The Blues succeeded on 3 power plays and kept the top line of the Hawks frustrated. 

The next night the Blues opened at home against future head coach Mike Yeo's ex team the Minnesota Wild. Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi each made their mark in this team with goals to lead the Blues to a 3-2 victory. Jake Allen also alluded fears that he was injured by playing in back to back games and stopping 36 of 40 across the two games. 

Carter Hutton made his debut as a Blue against the New York Rangers and made quite the impression. The Rangers came out with speed but the Blues would grab the lead after the first. In the second the Blues stretched the lead to 3-1 but a sharp angle shot by Mika Zibanejad pulled the Rangers back within one. That's when Hutton went to work. 

New York peppered the netminder with shots from all over but Hutton turned them all aside. Down three players to injury the Blues could only hold on and survive a third period in which they didn't record a single shot. The end result was a 3-2 Blues win and a new fan favorite in Hutton. 

The week ended on a bit of a low note as the team began a Western Canada trip in Vancouver Tuesday night. The Blues haven't fared well in Vancouver in recent years and this game was no different. Tarasenko gave the Blues a 1-0 lead in the second period but the Canucks put their heads down and kept pushing. 

Bo Horvat tied the game at one late in the third period and Henrik Sedin gave the Canucks their third straight come from behind victory to start the season. Despite the loss the Blues still took some positives from the game, mainly the strength of the penalty kill which has killed 14 straight penalties. 

The player of the week for the first week goes to Paul Stastny. The Blues top center opened the year with 2 goals and 4 assists through the first 4 games. Tarasenko with 4 goals and Alexander Steen it has 6 points were close seconds. 

The second week of the season begins with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers and Yakupov's first visit to his old team after the trade. The Oilers are off to a hot start at 3-1-0 and are playing in a new arena this year. 

The Blues and Calgary Flames will play a home and home set on Saturday and Tuesday. The Flames, who some people have picked for the playoffs, have started off slowly at 1-2-1 but face a rebuilding Carolina team on Thursday. Fans will get a chance to see former Blues Brian Elliott and Troy Brouwer when the Flames visit in the second game. 

Finally on the injury front, Jori Lehtera was placed on injured reserve after being injured against the New York Rangers. Lehtera suffered an upper body injury and did not finish the game.

But the Blues do get good news in that Jaden Schwartz is slated to return to the lineup against Edmonton. Schwartz missed the start of the regular season with an elbow injury but has been skating with the team the last few days and has been cleared to return.

The Blues are off to a great start and hopefully can continue their strong play this week. Don't forget to catch Mike Wagenknecht on Facebook Live every game day for a game preview.

Let's Go Blues!!