Pavel Buchnevich getting a look at center

Pavel Buchnevich getting a look at center

CALGARY, Alberta — After the Blues’ morning ice skate in Edmonton on Thursday, forward Pavel Buchnevich patiently stood by while he waited for Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly to end the call with a reporter. When his chance came, there was much for the two to talk about.

Buchnevich made his debut as a blues center against Edmonton on Thursday. His faceoff work – probably much of the interview with O’Reilly – wasn’t great, winning just one of seven faceoffs, but it’s still a work in progress.

“We’re trying to get him to play a center, so work on faceoffs and do his job as centerman downstairs, and just keep working on that,” Blues coach Craig Berube said Friday, who said the move was not made out of necessity. “It’s nice to have two guys on the same line who can take a draw. I think that’s important. Buchy is a skillful forward, playmaker, good skater, can spread the puck, so that’s really the idea. But it will take time.”

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Buchnevich has been in line with Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, and other than the Nashville game, the Blues haven’t had many faceoffs from Schenn lately. Before Thursday, Buchnevich had only completed 19 face-offs this season.

In addition to playing in a new position, Buchnevich played his first game after missing four games with a lower body injury.

“It’s a lot more work playing center,” Berube said, “It’s a lot more skating, I felt like maybe he died out a little bit. …(Overall) I thought he was fine. There are things that he obviously needs to do a little bit better. But he hasn’t played in the middle for a long time, so it’s going to take some time, we need to work on that, we need some practice time in position and breakouts and things like that.

Snuggerud goes national

Jimmy Snuggerud, the Blues’ first-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft, has been selected for the US team for the World Junior Tournament starting the day after Christmas in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

Snuggerud has 12 goals and 15 assists to lead the University of Minnesota with 27 points. At 15-5, the Gophers rank first, second, or third on three college hockey league tables.

Acciari is still red hot

Noel Acciari continues to burn for faceoffs. On Thursday against Edmonton he won six of seven and improved his mark to 22-2 in three games.

“I think I’m getting good bounces and my wingers and everyone’s helping,” said Acciari, who ranked 14th among the best players to have more than 200 faceoffs before Friday’s game with a 57.5 percentage of the season scored. “It’s a group effort out there.”

“He’s extremely strong and you can see how well he pushes down, how deep he goes,” said O’Reilly, the blues’ frontman for years. “He’s just a great face-off guy in general. Sometimes you get into that rhythm, you have that confidence, and it’s a nice feeling when you feel safe in that circle. When you get in, you know you’re going to win the draw. I think that’s what we just got a little taste of, which is nice. It’s a big deal for the team at PK, it helps a lot.”

Acciari has 56.7% in shorthanded buyoffs, which puts him 17th in the league.

end of the World Cup

The Blues’ presence on the west coast is daunting prospect plans for Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Argentina, as it kicks off at 7am Pacific time. Players expect to catch the second half.

Defender Niko Mikkola had both Argentina and France in his group in the final and if Argentina wins he wins the team competition. A victory for France would give Jordan Kyrou the victory.

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The oddness of the Blues’ win on Thursday led to some unusual situations, particularly when the Blues outnumbered their goalkeeper as they attempted to level the game. For Vladimir Tarasenko it was the first shorthanded goal of his career. For Kyrou, it was the second shorthanded point of his career. Kyrou played shorthanded hockey for 16 seconds, a second more than he had played all season. (This time came a few seconds at a time, at the end of penalty kills when the next unit came out.)

Tarasenko’s goal marked the 13th time a man down team had scored a crucial goal in the last 20 seconds. Three of those 13 times have been completed by the Blues, including the last time before Thursday when Torey Krug scored with 9 seconds left against the Kings (with assists from Kyrou and Tarasenko) on November 3, 2021.

too many men

The Blues went 29 games before taking their first penalty to many men and then getting two in the space of five minutes. In the third period they might have deserved another one.

“You just have to be more patient on the bench,” Berube said. “You think the guy is coming (out) but then the puck is near them so they stay. You just have to be more patient and the guy on the bench who walks over walks on him. He needs to be more patient.”

The Blues and Boston were the only teams not called up for a bench minor for Thursday’s game, but with three in one night, the Blues fell behind 13 teams.

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