The St. Louis Blues announced the return of one of their key players just a day before he will suit up for the first time. Oddly enough, it was not the player we all assumed it would be.
The St. Louis Blues apparently have a heck of a poker face. For over a week now, we have been told that Patrik Berglund was on the precipice of a return. Suddenly, we get a swerve, to use a wrestling term, and Jay Bouwmeester comes out of the curtain as the man to play first.
The choice still has an odd smell to it. It still does not make sense to have wasted the recall unless there are other things we do not know.
Perhaps there was a player ill prior to the Vancouver game. Maybe said player ended up playing anyway, so Megan’s services were not needed.
However, if it was not an emergency basis, it is still beyond me why you risk it. The Blues had to have known that Bouwmeester was close to returning. Why waste the plane cost by bringing in Megan.
Anyway, what’s done is done in that situation. Now, the Blues have other issues on their hands. For now, part of the answer has already been laid out.
Bouwmeester is back and will play his first game of the 2017-18 season against the Edmonton Oilers. The Blues will do the thing we wanted, but did not expect with the lineup upon his arrival.
Most of us assumed that Vince Dunn would be the odd man out. While that may be the case down the line, the Blues are keeping him in the lineup for now.
Interestingly enough, Carl Gunnarsson will be the healthy scratch against the Oilers according to Jeremy Rutherford while he was on 101 ESPN Radio. That choice does not bother me in the slightest, but Gunnarsson has to feel a little disappointed.
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Gunnarsson already has three goals and is currently a plus-10. I would contend that much of that has to do with his linemates, but the fact is he has played much better than we are used to seeing.
On the flip side, it’s amazing in today’s 24/7 news cycle that this was kept so quiet. Even in a recent talk with Bouwmeester in the Post-Dispatch, he was talking that he had just begun skating. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, he’s going to suit up and play?
No talk of taking extra shots after practice? No discussion with Mike Yeo about getting him in full-contact practices?
I believe the Blues are a better team with Bouwmeester in the lineup than without, despite what all the naysayers believe. He’s not a physical presence and he does make mistakes, but there is a reason he is continually named to Team Canada’s roster. That reason has little to do with Doug Armstrong being involved in the selection process by the way.
He is still a solid defender, even at 34. Bouwmeester is a good mover of the puck and makes good decisions 95% of the time. It is just that 5% that we tend to focus on.
Bouwmeester’s problem is expectations and contract. He gets paid a lot of money and fans expected double-digit goals and 30-plus points a year.
We have not even sniffed the goal totals. 30 has only been eclipsed once in his Blues career. That does not mean he’s a bad player. He is just one of those guys that his good play goes unnoticed because it is just many small moments over the course of 60 minutes.
Ultimately, we have to just hope they are not rushing into this. With the Blues injury history, you don’t want to risk a player for the long term to simply get him into the lineup now. That is especially true with the Blues current run going on.
Giving the team the benefit of the doubt, I doubt they would risk that. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes though.
If you told me Bouwmeester would play before Berglund a few days ago, I’d have called you a fool. Now the Blues have made me the fool. Fingers crossed it all works out and the Blues keep charging down the road.