Like all teams, the St. Louis Blues had to mix and match their lines throughout the season, so let’s take a look at some possible combinations for the second line.
The St. Louis Blues used a variety of players on their second line during their Stanley Cup-winning season and will have to adapt to different situations during the upcoming season.
It’s always fun to project into next season by writing down line combinations and imagining which players would work well with others to ensure back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
This is not one of those times. Our goal is to find the most outrageous line combination for the Blues second line, that can still guarantee success. Meaning you won’t hear me talk about a second line of Alex Steen, Oskar Sundqvist, and Jordan Nolan.
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The Blues finished the year with a second line of Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, and Zach Sanford. The three played together a lot during the season, finding their groove here and there but thrived in the Stanley Cup Final.
St. Louis will likely open the season with at least O’Reilly and Perron on the second line, and Sanford could very well make an appearance on the O’Reilly line again to start the year.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Craig Berube wants to promote O’Reilly to the first line to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn. This move would leave Jaden Schwartz to slot in on the second line with Perron, leaving a hole for a centerman to fill.
Tyler Bozak would be a popular choice to get bumped up to the second line. He’s a guy that has a very similar style of play to O’Reilly and can play in all situations.
However, he is not the center I am putting on this line. Instead, it is going to be Robert Thomas. Thomas came up through the Blues organization as a center but played the majority of 2019 on the wing.
Thomas’ game increased greatly as the season went on and gained more confidence as a result. Despite going down with an injury in the Stanley Cup Finals, Thomas could be due for a big promotion.
A Schwartz-Thomas-Perron line could demonstrate a little bit of everything for St. Louis. Schwartz, when right, is an elite goal scorer that would carry the load offensively. Perron has demonstrated the ability to be strong on the puck and can also find the back of the net with regularity.
Combine Schwartz’ skill and Perron’s strength with Thomas’ ability to create time and space for his linemates, it could be one of the team’s more electric lines to watch in 2020.
Obviously, the Blues would like to keep their top-two lines together from last season if they can find the same success, but don’t be surprised if you see something along these lines at some point during the new year.
The Blues showed their ability to adapt to many injuries and suspensions during both the regular season and the postseason last year, and it is what makes the Stanley Cup so challenging to win. If they want to get back to that point, they will need to be flexible again next year.