Blues Gameday Preview: Seattle Kraken – 1/13/22

COVID-19, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Kyrou, St Louis Blues, Vince Dunn

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 will look to extend their winning streak to three games on Thursday, while the Kraken look to break their seven-game losing streak, extended by a 5-2 loss against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. Over their last 10 games, St. Louis is averaging 3.6 goals per game, 2.3 goals against per game, and boasts a .927 save percentage. 

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

2 Storylines: Blues (21-10-5)

COVID Continues to Claim Blues

Over the last few days, the Blues have added five players to COVID protocol: Vladimir Tarasenko, Colton Parayko, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, and Scott Perunovich. As of Wednesday, defenseman Jake Walman was cleared off the list and began skating with the team. The Blues have been without players before and will rely on their depth again tonight.

Berube on James Neal, who has been hurt/sick/on the taxi squad but could play tomorrow night for the first time since Nov. 22. #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 with the club was on Nov. 22 against the Golden Knights. The Blues have been successful with their depth players like Logan Brown, Nathan Walker, and Klim Kostin. 

Kyrou Leading by Example

Jordan Kyrou (23) continues to prove that he can not only score but dominate the NHL. He leads the team with five goals on 19 shots in the last five games and has 11 points. He is tied with 14 other players for 34th in the league with 14 goals and tied for 16th with seven players in points with 36. If he continues on this pace, Kyrou is projected to score 34 goals and 88 points this season, the first Blues player to surpass 80 points since Pavol Demitra tallied 36 goals and 93 points in the 2002-03 season.

Related: Blues: 2 Budding Stars that Need to Be Retained Long-Term

Kyrou was drafted by the Blues 35th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and has played 131 games for the team, scoring 33 goals and 86 points. In August 2021, he signed a two-year contract extension worth $5.6 million.

2 Storylines: Kraken (10-20-4)

Blues and Dunn Reunion; Schwartz Reunion on Hold

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

When the Kraken make their St. Louis debut, former Blue Vince Dunn will suit up against his former team for the first time. While he gets his chance to shine, fellow teammate Jaden Schwartz will need to wait for his return to St. Louis after sustaining a hand injury on Dec. 29 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The forward underwent surgery and is expected to miss six weeks. 

Both players rank within the top 10 in Kraken scoring this season. Dunn scored the team’s first goal in franchise 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 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 mediocre at best, with a 16th ranked power play (19.57%) and a subpar penalty kill, ranked 24th (77.5%). While few expected the club to emulate the Golden Knights, Seattle has their work cut out for them moving forward.

Players to Watch

St. Louis: Pavel Buchnevich – With Tarasenko out of the lineup, Buchnevich should receive additional opportunities to score tonight. He has two goals and five points in his last four games, along with 10 shots on the net, which could set the Russian up for a 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.

Projected Line Combinations

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 Game: Saturday, Jan. 15 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs (6 PM CST)

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