The St. Louis Blues have gone with the same lineup in the early part of the 2017-18 season. Their afternoon game in New York presents an opportunity to get rest and make some switches.
The St. Louis Blues have only played two games in the infancy of 2017-18. Nevertheless, they have used a lot of energy to get those two wins.
The Blues have not overly taxed themselves. If St. Louis has the same lineup when the puck drops in Brooklyn, nobody should be surprised.
The Columbus Day afternoon game against the New York Islanders presents the Blues with an opportunity to switch things up. It gives the team a chance to get players that earned their spot onto the ice.
The team’s healthy scratches through two games have been Ivan Barbashev, Wade Megan and Nate Prosser. Prosser’s absence has been no big deal, but the forward lines might be somewhere a change could be beneficial.
It remains unseen where either of those guys would be inserted. However, a clear spot for a quick upgrade would be the center spot on the third line.
The Blues have been happy with Oskar Sundqvist so far, but he has not shown much to the rest of us. He has not played poorly, but just has not shown anything special.
Personally, inserting Barbashev into that line would be a solid improvement. He seems to be the one more suited to play the center role in the NHL even though Megan can play up the middle as well.
Barbashev deserves to play and he’s young enough that a lineup change this early in the season makes sense. You don’t want him just sitting up in the press box rotting.
Megan also deserves to get in, but he can slide in anywhere in the lineup. Sadly, he might be relegated to a fourth line role, but Chris Thorburn has not exactly set the world on fire, so that would be fine.
Some might be asking why mess with a good thing. You’re not wrong.
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The Blues have won their first two games and in somewhat impressive fashion. The offense is clicking, outscoring their opponents 8-6.
Still, even the coaching staff feels like the team put in a lot of work in those two games. A switch would be beneficial for rest and Mike Yeo said as much in his discussions with Jim Thomas and the rest of the media.
"“We’ve got three games in less than four days here,” Yeo said. “It was a tough game (Saturday) physically. It was demanding. So a chance to save a little energy. And the game that we play is demanding and it’s hard-working and you gotta be fresh in order to play it.”"
If it was my lineup and I was in charge, I would put both forwards in. Nothing personal against Prosser, but I’d leave the defense alone for another game or two.
I think Barbashev should slot in at the center spot on the third line. Barbashev with Tage Thompson would be a very young, but energetic dynamic. If the staff stuck with the change that put Dmitrij Jaskin on the third line, you’ve got two mobile but large wingers flanking a smaller, but shifty center.
I’d love it if Megan got a shot on the second line. Magnus Paajarvi is ok there and Jaskin has done a serviceable job, but Megan’s work ethic would really help that line’s speed and push up the ice.
However, I think his best shot at getting put in would be on the fourth line. Or Yeo could throw a curveball and put both Megan and Barbashev on the third line and give Thompson a rest. It is all on the table.
It seems so odd to be talking about rest only two games into the season. However, with an odd afternoon start time and a game against the Rangers the following night, it makes sense to make some alterations at some point.
The Blues have a long road trip. They do not return home until October 18 and have four games between now and then.
It might not happen today, but a lineup change is inevitable at some point. Today just makes the most sense given the situation surrounding the game.
Early start times can mess with a player’s inner clock. Inserting fresh faces avoids that because they are just excited to get on the ice for the first time.
We will see how it all plays out. The Blues face the Islanders today at noon and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest or the Fox Sports Go app if you live in the St. Louis market.