The St. Louis Blues have shaken up their defense quite a bit since winning the Stanley Cup. The question now is who will play with whom.
For a team that prides itself on defense and won with a certain defensive core, the St. Louis Blues have really shaken up their defensive unit from the one that won the Stanley Cup just about 17 months ago. Several key players are gone, replaced by talented men, though quite different men.
Krug and Faulk are more offensive than their predecessors. Scandella is a similar player to Bouwmeester, but not as quick on his feet and perhaps not as savvy in his own zone.
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Adding intrigue to all this switching is the fact that the change mixes up a lot. Though the Blues have added three defenders compared to the three gone, they may not take up the same spots.
That’s both good and bad. It takes away certainty from a solid defensive unit, but gives the coaching staff a lot of options.
One likely pairing for the three lines could be putting Krug with Faulk, since they played together for Team Canada in the past. This would allow Colton Parayko to continue his great pairing with Scandella.
Those two did not play their best during the 2020 playoffs, but during the regular season they did not miss a beat. St. Louis also has a lot of options on the third pairing as well.
Robert Bortuzzo is almost assured a spot now, since he’s a right-handed defender. That leaves four players vying for the final spot on the left.
Carl Gunnarsson is past his prime, but is still a steady presence. Vince Dunn is in no-man’s land at the moment since he seems to feel like the odd man out to those outside the franchise, but continues to be talked about as someone who will be around by those in it.
The Blues have options with Scott Perunovich, meaning they could send him back and forth between the NHL and the minors if they chose, but there is enough talk to wonder if he might make the big leagues off the bat.
If Dunn is on the team, it seems likely the Blues would go with experience and put him with Bortuzzo. This would allow him to be more offensive minded, which suits his game better anyway.
The opposite end of the spectrum would change up the first two pairings.
If you wanted to have offense with defense and big with small, you would have Krug and Parayko play together. The second pairing would be Scandella and Krug. This leaves all those same options on the third pairing.
Of course, there is always the potential for weird selections to be made. Nobody expected Pietrangelo to be playing with Gunnarsson, but that was the top pairing for the Blues on several nights over the last couple seasons.
Maybe Dunn makes a big stride and takes up the top left spot with Parayko. No offense, but I would hope he is not playing with Faulk anymore. That was a disastrous pairing just about any way you slice it.
Regardless, the Blues have a lot of options. Things will be very different on the blue line whenever the 2020-21 season starts, but that does not mean worse. It’s just different and will be exciting to watch.