The St. Louis Blues unveiled their initial power play units for 2021 during training camp. Impressive as they are, it also creates a question.
As we draw closer to the beginning of the 2021 St. Louis Blues campaign, things are starting to become a little more clear. Questions are being answered, most of them satisfactorily.
However, the release of the team’s initial power play units might make sense to many fans, but it also raises a question. Where is Justin Faulk?
For those a little behind, the Blues power play units to start training camp and in their first scrimmage were Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Mike Hoffman and Torey Krug on one unit. The other unit was Tyler Bozak, Robert Thomas, Jaden Schwartz, Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko.
On the surface, there’s very little to complain about with those choices. Personally, I do not care for the one defenseman formation, but that is the style many NHL teams are using these days.
It optimizes offensive talent. It helps with puck movement and also in-zone vision.
The main complaint with it, especially with a team like the Blues that has a habit of poor turnovers in even poorer spots on the ice, is it leaves you defensively weak. If a shorthanded break out occurs, you are relying on a forward to come back and help defensively.
But, if you consider Hoffman the winger that is that extra man, it is hard to argue against. The guy produces on the power play and not just points, but goals. Krug also makes a ton of sense on the top units, given his recent numbers with Boston.
Over the past five seasons, 41 percent of Hoffman’s goals have come on the power play. As a member of the Florida Panthers, he finished tied for third in the NHL in power play goals in 2018-19 with 17 and was tied for 11th last season with 11.
Meanwhile, Krug was the point man on the potent Boston Bruins power play. He tied for sixth in power play points last season with 28 (on two goals and 26 assists). Those 26 assists ranked third in the league with the man advantage. – Jim Thomas, Post Dispatch
If anything, Dunn would be the name that could be questionable. Having a left-handed player opposite Parayko on the point makes sense and Dunn is decent on special teams.
He’s an offensive minded player. He also has seven power play goals combined over the last two seasons.
Yet, there were question marks as to whether the Blues were possibly ready to move on from Dunn already. Even if those mainly came from outside of the franchise, is he really that much better as a power play option than Faulk?
The Blues brought in Faulk, in no small part, due to his power play prowess. In the five seasons prior to coming to St. Louis, Faulk had 32 power play goals. Even if you go apples to apples, he had 13 power play goals in three seasons compared to nine for Dunn.
Faulk is not afraid to shoot the puck either. You can tell me all about Dunn’s upside, but regardless of what numbers you give about how good the Blues power play was statistically, the bottom line is they pass up a LOT of shooting opportunities.
Faulk doesn’t do that. He sees a shooting lane and takes it. 2019-20 was definitely a down year for him, but he was still bombing away.
Faulk still put 147 shots toward goal despite a much reduced role compared to what he was accustomed to in Carolina. Perhaps Dunn gets the edge simply due to quickness. He is a faster skater, though Faulk is not as slow as some have made him out.
Ultimately, it is good to have options and depth. It just does not make a ton of sense to have a player with power play talent, a proven ability to score goals, and being paid a hefty sum, to sit around and not play on special teams at all.
Conversely, the Blues seem determined to use Faulk on penalty kill scenarios in 2020 when that’s never really been his calling. It is all somewhat of a head scratcher.
As fans, we have no reason to not trust Craig Berube after what he’s accomplished in such a short time. Hopefully he and Jim Montgomery know what they’re doing because, whether you want him taken by Seattle or to stay, the Blues need a happy and productive Faulk on the ice for either of those things to happen.