Expect St. Louis Blues To Utilize All Their Players In Round-Robin

DALLAS, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 16: Ville Husso #35 of the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center on September 16, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 16: Ville Husso #35 of the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center on September 16, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues pretty much know who their main roster will be in the 2020 playoffs. However, don’t expect to see just those names in the round-robin games.

Despite it being the radio home to the St. Louis Blues, 101 ESPN’s daily shows are not exactly the place I look to for hockey insight. However, in spite of that, there have been some rather interesting ideas put forth on there.

One such idea, that I agree with, is the Blues are going to play their full complement of players whenever hockey returns. That might go against conventional wisdom.

Some might say the Blues should only play the players they intend to use for the actual, important playoffs during the practice games and the round-robin games. The thought there would be that you need to get those guys up to speed, build chemistry and have them all on the same page.

However, the wisdom behind playing all 30 of your allowed roster players (normally 23) at some point prior to the knock-out rounds is because you have no clue if or when they might need to be used. This is a scenario unlike any other.

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During a normal playoff run, you have your group called the Black Aces. They get to practice with the team to keep their skills sharp after the AHL season ends, but almost never actually get called into action.

That is because there are typically enough NHL talents ready to step in, if there is an injury. That is because you rarely have more than one guy, maybe two, get seriously injured.

With the pandemic going on, in theory, you could lose a quarter of your team in one day. If you want to continue playing at a high level, you need to get those prospect-type players up to speed as well.

As discussed by Dan Mclaughlin, you would need to be ready in case a bunch of players tested positive all at once.

What happens if Jordan Binnington or Jake Allen tests positive and Ville Husso, or any other potential goaltender, have not played in months? The same is true of on-ice players.

If someone like Klim Kostin has not seen any game action since March or before, are you going to thrust him into a prominent role in the NHL playoffs? Skill wise, Kostin should be in a top-nine role, but if he has not played an actual game in months, it would be much more likely the coaching staff would only give him minutes expected of a fourth line player.

With that in mind, I agree with McGlaughlin and some of the other hosts that the Blues will actually utilize the two exhibition games and the round-robin games as de facto preseason games. As fans, we would rather the Blues be the top seed, but given the circumstances, it really does not matter.

Everyone is on the same level of rest and health. On paper, some opponents might be tougher than others, but everyone is just starting their season over basically.

So, it actually makes sense to get all potential players in the games. Give Husso half a game in one of the round-robin games or an entire game in the exhibition games to get him used to the timing of actual shots again.

Let Kostin play in a top-six role to see how he would do. Maybe even sneak someone like Scott Perunovich in there, if the Blues chose to include him in the expanded roster.

Whomever the Blues put on this expanded list, they need to be ready to go. As we have seen around the sports world, you can get handfuls of players testing positive all at once.

You don’t want to be forced into a situation where the players you’re suddenly counting on have not played meaningful shifts in months.

Next. Late July likely for Blues to resume games. dark

It makes sense to want to get as many opportunities for your regulars to work the kinks out, but the Blues play a style that does not need a lot of preparation. Thus that gives them more opportunity for the younger guys to get minutes prior to the playoffs actually starting.