St. Louis Blues Gameday Preview: Seattle Kraken

The St. Louis Blues will host the Seattle Kraken for the very first time tonight. The NHL’s 32nd franchise has had its share of challenges in their inaugural season and has proven to be more of a work in progress than the Vegas Golden Knights, who were an immediate success. The Blues are looking to extend their winning streak of three games on Thursday while the Kraken aim to end their seven-game losing streak. They lost their last game against the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Wednesday. St. Louis has an average of 3.6 goals per match, 2.3 goals against per match, and a.927 save rate. 

Here’s a look at the storylines and projections ahead of tonight’s matchup:

2 Storylines – Blues (21-10-5).

COVID Claim Blues

The Blues have been adding five players to the COVID protocol over the past few days: Vladimir Tarasenko, Colton Parayko, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, and Scott Perunovich. Jake Walman, the defenseman, was removed from the list on Wednesday and has been skating with the team since then. The Blues have never been without players and will again rely on their depth tonight.

Berube on James Neal. He has been injured/sick/on a taxi squad, but could play tomorrow night. #stlblues

The lack of available forwards for tonight’s game means veteran forward James Neal will play for the first time in two months. His last appearance for the club was against the Golden Knights, Nov. 22. The Blues are successful with their depth players, such as Nathan Walker and Logan Brown. 

Kyrou leading by example

Jordan Kyrou (23) continues to prove that he can not only score but dominate the NHL. He leads the team in goals with five goals, 19 shots and 11 points. With 14 goals, he is tied for 34th and tied for 16th. There are seven other players who have 36 points. Kyrou, if he keeps up this pace, is expected to score 34 goals this season and 88 points. This will make him the first Blues player who has scored more than 80 points since Pavol Demitra’s 36 goals and 93 totals in 2002-03.

Related: Blues – 2 Budding Stars Who Must Be Retained for the Long-Term

Kyrou was the 35th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. In 131 games, he has scored 33 goals and 86 assists. He signed a $5.6 million contract extension in August 2021.

2 Storylines: Kraken (10-20-4)

Reunion Blues and Dunn, Schwartz Reunion On Hold

Vince Dunn, Jaden Schwartz
St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn celebrates with Jaden Schwartz (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Former Blue Vince Dunn, a former Blue player, will be playing against his old team when the Kraken make their St. Louis debut. Jaden Schwartz, his teammate, will not be able to play while Dunn shines. He has been sidelined with injuries and will have to wait until his return to St. Louis. Hand injury Dec. 29 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The forward had surgery and will miss six weeks. 

Both of these players are among the top 10 Kraken scorers this season. Dunn scored the team’s First goal in franchise’s history against the Vancouver Canucks and has collected three goals and 14 points through 30 games, while Schwartz has scored six goals and 20 points through 29 games.

Seattle is a Work in Progress

The launch of the NHL’s 32nd franchise has been a bigger success story off the ice than on it. Ahead of tonight’s game, the Kraken rank 22nd in the league in goals per game (2.77) and are tied for the highest goals-against average per game (3.71). Their special teams are average at best with a 16th-ranked power play (19.57%), and a subpar penalty killing (77.5%). Seattle is not expected to follow the Golden Knights’ example, but it has their work cut out.

To Watch: Players

St. Louis: Pavel Buchnevich – With Tarasenko out of the lineup, Buchnevich should receive additional opportunities to score tonight. Buchnevich has scored two goals and five assists in his last four games. He also has 10 shots on goal, which could make this a very successful evening.

Kraken: Jared McCann – His three goals and six points are tied for the most points in the Kraken’s last five games, and he’s consistently firing the puck on net, averaging 4.2 shots per game.

Combinations of projected lines

St. Louis Blues

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Ivan Barbashev Ryan O’Reilly Pavel Buchnevich
Brandon Saad Robert Thomas Jordan Kyrou
Logan Brown Oskar Sundqvist James Neal
Nathan Walker Tyler Bozak Klim Kostin
Left Defense Right defense
Niko Mikkola Justin Faulk
Torey Krug Marco Scandella
Jake Walman Robert Bortuzzo
Starting Goalie
Ville Husso

Seattle Kraken

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Marcus Johansson Jared McCann Jordan Eberle
Calle Jarnkrok Yanni Gourde Colin Blackwell
Mason Appleton Alexander Wennberg Ryan Donato
Max McCormick Riley Sheahan Joonas Donskoi
Left Defense Right defense
Mark Giordano Jamie Oleksiak
Carson Soucy Adam Larsson
Vince Dunn Jeremy Lauzon
Starting Goalie
Chris Driedger

Blues’ Next GameSaturday, January 15, against the Toronto Maple Leafs (6PM CST).