The St.Louis Blues (19-12-5 with 43 points) have been finding ways to win despite a banged up squad.
After a convincing 3-1 victory over the rival Chicago Blackhawks the Blues find themselves sitting in 2nd place. The Blues magically persuaded the home crowd that Oshie, McDonald, and Perron being injured wasn't going to stop them from winning important games.
St.Louis is riding high in the last ten games they are 6-3-1 and do not seem to be letting up.
David Backes hard at work
David Backes is leading the way with 9 goals and 19 assists for a grand total of twenty-eights points. He also leads the team in plus/minus with a plus eleven. David has four points in his last 5 games also.
I have noticed that since Backes signed his five-year, $22.5 million extension, he scored 22 points in 22 games.
“Just playing and trying to contribute any way I can,” Backes said. “If we're playing flat and need a boost of momentum and a hit is what's needed, then that's what I need to provide. If it's a tie game and we need a shot on net or to create some offense, then that's what's required also. It's not pressing. It's letting the game come to me and reading it and playing smart along with playing hard.”
Most Improved Forward
#17 Vladimir Sobotka
Even though Patrik Berglund has stepped up his game recently. I am most surprised with the smart hockey sense of the small center Vladimir Sobotka. He has been very productive on the Blues number one line paired with David Backes, and Matt D'Agostini.
Sobotka has shown the most patience with the puck than any other Bluenote on the ice. He excels in playing a full 60 minutes of hockey every night. Vladimir has 5 goals 11 assists for sixteen points and he is plus one.
Sobotka has a scored a point in four games straight. He has become the most versatile forward on the Blues active squad. He has won 60% or more of faceoffs thirteen times this year. Within the active players this year Sobotka ranks first with a 14.7 shot percentage. David Perron lead before being injured with a 17.2 shot percentage.
Most Improved Defenseman
#27 Alex Pietrangelo
It's easy for me to pick Alex Pietrangelo for being the most improvement defensively.
Alex has easily been the strongest on the puck. He has shown excellent poise at both ends of the ice. His intelligent play has provided a massive boost to the once snake bitten power-play of the Blues.
Pietrangelo has four goals and 13 assists and two of those goals were on the power-play.
The Best News
T.J. Oshie has been skating daily for the past few weeks. The team estimates his return could be in late January around the All Star Break. It was originally thought that Oshie would not return until late February. So there's the best news I have heard all day!