The St. Louis Blues are once again in a position where they may need to make some lineup changes. This time, however, it might be better not to.
The St. Louis Blues have managed to make almost all the right moves so far this postseason. Craig Berube and his staff are far from perfect, but almost all of the tweaks they have made have worked out in one form or another.
The last time the Blues were forced to make changes to their lines, they ended up sticking with them and it paid off. The Blues stuck Brayden Schenn back on a line with Jaden Schwartz and he scored four goals in two games, including the game winning goal in Game 5. Pretty good result.
The Blues did not win the game, but they played much better and quicker in the third period. They gave themselves a chance, which is what you need in the playoffs.
The Blues are apparently thinking, once again, about sticking with the changes made.
This time, however, I would argue that the Blues should return Sundqvist to the second line and Fabbri to the fourth, at least to start the game. That should not be seen as a demotion or reward for either, but more a practical matter.
Sundqvist has not been providing the offense we saw in the regular season, but he has provided a lot of little things. He barely appeared on the stat sheet in Game 1 other than a couple shots, but he was the unsung hero because of the small but important things he was doing.
There is little doubt Fabbri fits in with the team’s current second line. His speed plays well with the skills of Schenn and Schwartz.
"“Fabs is a good player,” Schenn said in the Post-Dispatch. “He’s fast. Even at the end of the game there, I threw one off the wall and he turned nothing into something and we got a scoring chance out of it. He’s able to make plays with his speed, he’s playing real good hockey for us right now.”"
However, space is at a premium in the playoffs. I argue that Sundqvist’s size and tenacity along the walls provides space for the other two players when they are all at their best.
If he can tie the puck up and draw in another player, that leaves an open Blues man when the puck comes free. The issue is getting possession of the puck, of course, but that’s not a Fabbri vs. Sundqvist issue.
Personally, I would have no issue with Fabbri having an expanded role. He definitely brings a different dynamic to the second line when he is playing well.
However, Sundqvist is currently a confident skater and no longer the plodding player he used to seem like. He is not as fast from a pure speed aspect, but he knows how to generate speed and enter the zone.
Additionally, the worry with Fabbri is injury. That might be an unfair statement given what his injuries have been and they were uncontrollable, but his size can be a worry. You’re going up against more physical players more often if you are on the second line. That exposes you to more hits and more potential for injury.
Fabbri has been a good change of pace player on the fourth line. If St. Louis can afford it, it might be better to keep him there.
Ultimately, I do trust whatever decision Berube makes. He has earned that at this point. I still argue that Sundqvist has earned some trust too and should return to the second line.