St. Louis Blues

Reaves is NHL award nominee; Blues are heating up

St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves, shown here celebratina goal against Anaheim, is the local Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee by the St. Louis Pro Hockey Writers Association chapter.
St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves, shown here celebratina goal against Anaheim, is the local Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee by the St. Louis Pro Hockey Writers Association chapter. AP

Forward Ryan Reaves is the St. Louis Blues’ nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the St. Louis Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

The annual award goes to the NHL player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” One player from all 30 NHL teams is nominated, with the winner voted on by PHWA members.

A fifth-round pick in 2005, the 30-year-old Reaves has been with the Blues longer than any current player. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound right winger is among the most feared fighters in the league, but contributes more than just being a physical presence.

He and his fourth-line teammates provide energy, checking and strength, many times helping create or change momentum during a game. Reaves is also a respected leader in the dressing room

Reaves has had as many as 13 fights in a season (2011-12), but has been involved in only 10 fights during the past two seasons combined.

In 410 games, Reaves has 24 goals, 48 points and 683 penalty minutes.

Reaves signed a four-year, $4.5 million contract extension in 2014. He has four goals and 10 points in 71 games this season, putting him on pace to surpass his previous career high of 12 points in 2014-15,

Other Blues who have won the Masterton Trophy include Blake Dunlop in 1980-81 and goalie Jamie McLennan in 1997-98. Bill Masterton is a former NHL player with the Minnesota North Stars who died Jan. 15, 1968 after being injured in a game.

Blues, Paajarvi are rolling

Among the Blues players who have benefited the most from the coaching change, forward Magnus Paajarvi stands out as Exhibit A.

Not only does he have eight goals in just 23 games, he netted two of them Thursday in the Blues’ 4-1 home win over Vancouver and has three goals in the last two contests.

The winger has seven goals and 10 points in 20 games since rejoining the Blues after his latest promotion Feb. 5 from the Chicago Wolves.

The Blues (40-28-5) have won four in a row and nine of their last 10 heading into a Saturday home game against former Blues goaltender Brian Elliott and the Calgary Flames.

Elliott’s replacement, Jake Allen, has won seven of his last eight starts.

In his last seven starts, Allen is 6-1 with a 1.29 goals-against average and .956 save percentage. On the season he is 29-19-3 with a 2.44 goals-against-average and .913 save percentage.

Since Jan. 1, Elliott (23-14-3, 2.50 goals-against, .911 save percentage) he ranks fourth in the NHL in save percentage (.924) and also has a 2.13 goals-against average.

Battling Nashville for third place in the Central Division, the Blues and Predators each have 85 points with nine games remaining.

The Blues are without top center Paul Stastny for at least a week because of a lower-body injury.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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