How about that Nail Yakupov ladies and gentlemen? The Blues certainly look to have gotten a steal.
The St. Louis Blues are 2-0 on the young NHL season. They’ve had some good surprises, but the way they have won those two games was not really a surprise.
The team looks exactly as it was advertised. They are faster, more in control of the puck (most times) and a more dynamic team.
Included in all of that is Nail Yakupov. So far, and yes it is an incredibly small sample size, he has been everything the Blues hoped for and nothing they feared.
What has been so impressive about the Blues through their first two wins is the team play. A couple players here or there pop out, as we’ll discuss in just a moment, but as a whole, it’s been all 18 skaters doing their jobs.
The Blues opened up the night very similarly to how they did against Chicago the previous game. They were on their toes, skating around and in a general sense, dominated the play.
The Blues only allowed two shots on goal in the first period, continuing their defensive dominance. St. Louis has now only allowed 40 shots through two games.
Jake Allen did his job again. For the second night in a row, he was not spectacular, but he did not have to be.
Allen came up with the saves when he needed to, which is what fans have generally wanted from a Blues goaltender. He made one or two big saves, including a breakaway stop, but in general it was good positioning and fundamentals.
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In an overall sense, like the Chicago game, there were things the team needs to improve on. The Blues were made to pay for another sloppy turnover and a few miscues were also picked up on.
While the Blues have kept their games pretty clean, if they continue this pattern of allowing their mistakes to end in goals, it’s going to cost them eventually. For now, they’ve been able to limit them and overcome them.
Offensively, it’s just been nice to see the movement. The opening goal was a prime example of this updated effort of cycling around without the puck and keeping the defenders guessing as to where anyone will be.
If the Blues truly are faster, that will serve them well. It’s hard to defend when you’re going against an unpredictable team. Predictability cost the Blues against the Sharks last year.
Yakupov is really looking like a heck of a pick up for the team. Statistically, he hasn’t set the world on fire, but he’s done all the right things so far.
He’s got a goal and assist in two games, both of which he picked up against Minnesota. His goal probably should not have gone in, but they all count.
On a better day, Devan Dubnyk would have had that. Still, from a pure effort standpoint, Yakupov did everything we wanted on that play.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Blues players just charge into the zone the way he did. Without hesitation, he just blistered one on net and something good happened.
The same thing happened on the goal he assisted on. Again, Yakupov just flew into the zone, whipped a pass across with steam and something good came of it.
The Blues are likely to reward him in the near future. Yakupov is still getting accustomed to his teammates, but as he does that he’s going to increase his role.
For now, as previously stated, he has been everything the Blues wanted and nothing they didn’t. Even his first interview came off pretty well.
When the Blues picked him up, there were chirps and whispers of a malcontent. There is still plenty of time for that to come out, but so far it seems he just was not a fit with the Edmonton Oilers.
Both he and David Perron have played better defensively than many of us thought they could. Again, there is plenty of time for them to revert to type, but getting off on a great start is just what the doctor ordered.
There was a lot of talk about it online and I agree regarding the pregame opening. It wasn’t awful, but it was poorly constructed, poorly executed and very underwhelming for a celebration of 50 years.
As far as the game went, another W. There are still plenty of things to clean up, but you can’t complain about taking down two divisional opponents in a row.
The powerplay looks like it’s going to be a roller coaster ride. It would look awful one second and incredible the next. 0/3 was a little bit of a smack in the face after scoring three goals against Chicago.
Imagine this team once Jaden Schwartz returns. It will be a little iffy defensively, but a line containing Perron and Nakupov is going to melt the ice with all their speed.
It’s almost an afterthought the way the game played out, but kudos to the boys for picking up a win against Mike Yeo’s former team. So far it doesn’t look like the bench dynamic is a problem.
As with everything positive in this article(and negative really), it is only two games in.
The Blues are off until Saturday. The New York Rangers will be in town as the first nonconference opponent for the Blues of the season.
I will be at that game, so I’m extra excited. The Blues defense will have to be as good as they were in the last two games come the weekend.
The Rangers lit up the New York Islanders 5-3 in their season opener. They spread the offense around too, so the Blues will need another total team effort.
The puck will drop on that contest on Saturday at 7. 3-0 sounds pretty good, but we can’t put the cart before the horse just yet.