‘Kid’ Kyrou jumpstarts the Blues’ offense

‘Kid’ Kyrou jumpstarts the Blues’ offense

Published May 10, 2022
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The Blues’ Jordan Kyrou celebrates after scoring one of his two goals Sunday, May 8, 2022, in a playoff game against the Minnesota Wild at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

Blues center Jordan Kyrou (25) scores a goal against Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period in Game 4 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Minnesota Wild at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Sunday, May 8, 2022. The Blues pulled out a 5-2 win to tie the series. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

At times, Blues coach Craig Berube must feel like a parent with a couple dozen children.

They all have different personalities. Different strengths and weaknesses. Different egos and needs. His job is to keep them all motivated, growing, and producing. Some need more attention than others.

Now among those “kids,” there’s a prodigy capable of great things. Jaw-dropping feats. But he sometimes can leave you scratching your head or even give you a headache.

With that in mind, the further adventures of Jordan Kyrou continued Sunday at Enterprise Center in the Blues’ 5-2 Game 4 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Kyrou was dazzling for most of the afternoon. He scored two goals, including the game winner midway through the second period. He found open ice, eluded defenders. And even broke up a couple of plays defensively with alert backchecking.

During a tough-love team meeting on Saturday, Kyrou said Berube’s blunt talk left him upset — adding that he didn’t think that was a bad thing. Judging by Kyrou’s play Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, the young forward responded well.

“I guess,” Berube said, chuckling. “We were all mad that we were in that situation. It’s OK to be mad. You should be (upset). We lose two games in a row and we didn’t play very well.”

The Wild didn’t have an answer Sunday for Kyrou, who jump-started a potent Blues offense that sputtered in Games 2 and 3 before rebounding Sunday in the team’s 5-2 victory that tied the first-round playoff series at two games each.

Much to the bewilderment of Berube, Kyrou might have done even more damage on the scoreboard. He had maybe three or four other excellent looks wherein which instead of shooting he decided to pass — and things didn’t work out.

“Yeah, he could’ve had maybe four (goals), but maybe he just wanted to score two,” Berube said, smiling. “I don’t know. He doesn’t want to give us too much too early. I was on the bench saying the same thing.”

Namely: “Shoot!”

With the crowd noise and all, Berube said the players usually can’t hear him anyway while they’re on the ice. So he waits until they return to the bench to get the message across.

“But then (Kyrou) kinda tells me the guy’s stick’s in the way and stuff like that,” Berube continued. “They’re the offensive guys, I’m not. But he had an excellent game.

“I thought that he was on his toes. He was challenging people one on one, that’s his game. And he did that. It was really nice to see him get a couple goals. The followup to the rebound — it’s a nice goal. He didn’t quit on the play.”

That was a reference to the first goal of the game, which Kyrou scored on the rebound of his own shot. Berube has been preaching most of the series that the Blues need to get to the net, and work for second and third opportunities. That goal was a textbook example of what can happen when you do just that.

It gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, and getting the lead has been more critical than ever so far in these playoffs. The team that scores first has won all four games so far in the Blues-Wild series. Leaguewide, the team that scores first was 24-4 in the postseason entering Monday’s contests.

Despite all the focus on the Blues’ goaltending situation and injuries on defense, what the Blues do best is score goals. And with the work of Kyrou and others, the got back to their scoring ways after a two-game lull.

The challenge for the Blues entering Game 5, on Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minn., is to broaden their scoring and make the most of their much-touted balance and depth. So far, David Perron (five goals), Kyrou (three) and Ryan O’Reilly (three) have combined for 11 of the 12 goals scored by St. Louis in the series.

Vladimir Tarasenko has the other goal.

It might be asking too much to expect those players to continue carrying the scoring load throughout an entire series.

Even with only a few players scoring goals, the Blues have kept their power play humming — with at least one goal in all four games. Granted, the Blues didn’t cash in on a four-minute power play after yet another high-sticking penalty by Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala in the first period Sunday. But Berube liked the tone set by the unit.

“I know we didn’t score, but we created a lot of momentum for us in the first period in my opinion,” Berube said. “The shot volume and the puck recoveries. The directness of it, I really liked it.”

The Blues did get a power-play goal by O’Reilly late in the third period to close the scoring. But they also got their five-on-five game going with three even-strength goals. (Not including Perron’s empty-netter.)

That matched the combined total of five-on-five goals in the first three games of the series.

O’Reilly’s late power-play goal continued his scoring uptick that started at the end of the regular season, in which he scored four goals in the final two games.

“I thought he had a heck of a game all-around,” Berube said. “You look at the scoresheet, and that’s what everybody looks at, right? But it’s all the little things he does.”

Be it penalty killing, checking, faceoffs, or helping to shut down the Joel Eriksson Ek line.

“Well, that (O’Reilly) line did a great job against those guys,” Berube said. “It’s a battle. You’ve got to just battle and you’re not going to get a lot of looks offensively. You just got to stay with it. And it’s important not to get frustrated by it or try to make something that’s not there at the time because then you make mistakes.”

Blues might get defensive help for Game 5, B7

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Jim Thomas covers Blues hockey for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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