St. Louis Blues Injuries Catching Up To Them Earlier Than Hoped

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 02: Alexander Steen
NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 02: Alexander Steen /

The St. Louis Blues were hit very hard by injury before the 2017-18 season even began. They did a good job of overcoming it early, but things are starting to show now.

The St. Louis Blues began the 2017-18 season with a very hot start. It was about as good a start as anyone could hope for.

Even if the team was completely healthy, a 4-0 run to begin the season would have been impressive. It was even more so due to the fact that the Blues were missing four players that the team was going to heavily rely on.

The team began the year without guys like Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund, Robby Fabbri and Jay Bouwmeester. Each one has their positives and drawbacks, but they were going to be key contributors to this team had they been in the lineup.

St. Louis got off to a quick start and many were hoping the team would be fine without them. However, it now appears as though it was simply the emotion of the season.

The Blues are now starting to struggle a little bit without that extra depth. It is not simply the missing players, but the lack of production from the guys taking those spots.

Though nobody has played a poor game for St. Louis on the lower lines, they have failed to do anything statistically. Through six games, the team has yet to get a goal from anyone outside of their top two lines.

Technically, they have only one point from any of the bottom two lines as well. You could argue that with a couple players like Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Sobotka going up and down the lineup, but they got their points on higher lines. Scottie Upshall is the only one that picked up an assist.

Vladimir Tarasenko has gotten off to a good start. You also cannot ask much more from Brayden Schenn or Jayden Schwartz.

The problem is not necessarily with the top guys. It’s the fact that they are getting all the attention because the Blues do not threaten anyone with their other two lines.

We all knew that the injuries were going to affect the depth. The hope was that a few guys would step up and help out. Unfortunately, that has not happened yet.

The Blues have plenty of good, young talent coming through the pipeline. Not every rookie is ready to light the world on fire right out of the gate though.

Tage Thompson looked fine in his NHL debut and the first few games after that. The stage did not look too big for him. The issue is that he’s just not ready to lead a line yet.

No matter which players the Blues paired with him, he was the one with the most upside. The others were third liners or fill-in guys that would be sitting in the pressbox when the team was fully healthy.

The flip side of the coin is that we all underestimate what some of these players mean to the team.

Steen had an off year in 2016-17 offensively. However, even as he gets up in years he is capable enough to draw some attention. If nothing else, inserting him into the top two lines pushes other players down into more favorable spots.

Fabbri and Berglund might only give you in the teens in goals, but that is hard to replace out of nowhere.

Lastly, Bouwmeester might be out of favor with the fans but he’s still a top four defender. Vince Dunn has done a good job in the spots given to him, but Bouwmeester is just a cut above.

He’s never lived up to the offensive hype as a member of the Blues, but he remains a decent puck mover. He’s also a much better defender than people give him credit for.

He logs minutes against the top lines every single night. When he plays well, it is just one of those things you don’t notice because he did his job well. It was not a bunch of flashy deflections or blocks. It was just good positional defending.

Joel Edmundson is a good defender, but we are starting to see a few gaps in his game when going against the top lines. The same is true of many of the team’s defenders.

Next: Early Look At Blues Prospects

The Blues are going to be alright. They are going to get their young players valuable experience and guys (except Fabbri) will get healthy.

St. Louis also had a hard road trip to start the year. Hopefully a few days off will help them. Maybe they’ll get a player back soon.

The bottom line is they either need some health or production from those lower lines. No matter how good you are, if teams can solely focus on one or two lines, they have much less to worry about.

One or two goals is all you need to crack the streak. That’s easier said than done though.