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St. Louis Blues versus Montreal Canadians

St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) takes a wide step while trying to intercept a pass by Montreal Canadiens left wing Tomas Tatar (90) during the second period of a game on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 at the Enterprise Center. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

He wasn't even one of the game's “three stars.”

Maybe because with these lackluster Blues, he's in his own galaxy?

If you didn't see Thursday's performance against Montreal, you missed Ryan O'Reilly at his best, epitomizing why he's the Blues' lone All-Star – and why some of his bigness comes from consistent execution of the little things.

So let's spend the next few minutes dissecting and discussing something actually positive about the lowly Blues, who for a change of pace, actually won a game in their home arena Thursday. It very well might have been O'Reilly's best overall game with the blue note on his sweater.

The Blues have played 42 games – O'Reilly hasn't missed any, and he has 42 points. Randomly, his 1.0 points per game ranks No. 42 in the NHL. That's not glorious, but it does suggest a possible 80-plus point season for O'Reilly. Here are the recent St. Louis season-leaders in points:

2017-18: Brayden Schenn, 70

2016-17: Vladimir Tarasenko, 75

2015-16: Tarasenko, 74

2014-15: Tarasenko, 73

2013-14: Alexander Steen, 62

In fact, the last time a Blues player cracked the 80-point mark? It was 2002-03. Sixteen seasons ago. The late, great Pavol Demitra tallied 93 points (36 goals, 57 assists). Al MacInnis finished second on that team with 68 points.

In fact, since 1991-92, the only Blues players to ever crack 80 points were Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Pierre Turgeon, Craig Janney and Demitra. Nice little club there.

Yes, of course, O'Reilly is only a little over halfway there – a lot of games left, and you never know if a guy will get injured. But to consider that he's doing all this (a point per game) during a losing season? Incredible.

Last season with Buffalo, O'Reilly tallied 61 points. His career-high is 64, back in 2013-14 with Colorado. So he's never even cracked 70, and he's on pace for 80.

An how about this – on this stuck-in-the-mud Blues team, O'Reilly is plus-12. Last season, on a similarly bad Buffalo team, he was minus-23. And he hasn't finished in the plus in any of the past eight seasons. Again, he's plus-12 for these Blues.

As for last night, the Blues' tallied a quality win against Montreal. Jordan Binnington was the first star, followed by Oskar Sundqvist and Jay Bouwmeester. But let's take a quick look at O'Reilly's decisions, because they were on-point all night.

• On the Blues' first goal, he stationed himself right in front of the goalie – sure enough, he was in position to thwack his stick at a soft rebound. O'Reilly didn't score, but he kept the puck alive – and Robert Thomas did.

• His power-skating down ice was on display during, of all things, a penalty kill. He motored with the puck and then perfectly lifted a little saucer pass over Shea Weber's stick. Sundqvist collected it and scored. Two-nothin'.

• In the second period, he had the vision and wherewithal to attack the net without the puck. Good things happen when this happens – possibly a shot, a penalty drawn or, if anything, pressure applied. All three happened in this case, as he was slashed and earned the Blues a power play.

• So locked in on Thursday, O'Reilly even stole the puck from the goalie behind the net. Carey Price was by himself. O'Reilly, coming from the right side, slalomed around a defenseman and ended up taking the puck from Price's stick -- and nearly scoring an open-netter.

• Late in the third period, O'Reilly was still chugging, even making a steal while on a five-on-three. He helped the Blues take the lead – and then helped them preserve the lead.


Photos from Blues' 4-1 win over Montreal 

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Benjamin Hochman

@hochman on Twitter

bhochman@post-dispatch.com

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