Arguing team depth against another team is always a dangerous thing. Just imagine any discussion you’ve had with friends about who is the best goalie of all time or best quarterback, but on a team scale.
So, saying the Blues have more depth than the Avalanche is mainly based on perception. However, even I acknowledge that because you see a team all the time, you are going to value their talents more than someone you only see a stat sheet on.
Still, I truly believe the Blues have one of the deepest teams in the NHL and that includes the Avs. Colorado surely has higher top-end talent.
As much as we love someone like O’Reilly or Schenn, they’re probably not quite as good as MacKinnon or Landeskog. They just bring a different style.
However, on the blue line, I’ll take the Blues squad any day. Colorado is no slouch defensively, but after Cale Makar, there’s a dip.
There are talented players in there as this is not a bad defensive team. However, the Blues have three players that could stake a claim to be a top-pairing defenseman on many other teams.
The Blues roll out Krug, Parayko, Justin Faulk (say what you will, but he’s still a high end player overall), Marco Scandella, Dunn, Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson. They also have Niko Mikkola, who looks like he’ll be a solid defensive defenseman, waiting in the wings.
When Scandella and Bortuzzo are perceived as the weak links, you know you’re doing pretty well. Those two don’t have the game to fly up and down the ice, but they’re steady players who compliment the guys they’re paired with.
St. Louis likely cannot match Colorado in a scoring match, but they can compete with all four lines. Their fourth line players would be higher up the roster on many of the other teams across the league.
We’ve seen Oskar Sundqvist play at a level where he can be a legit second-line player. That’s not likely something sustainable over an entire season, but that shows the caliber of player you have on your final forward group.
St. Louis has enough depth to have a high-energy guy like Sammy Blais or a potential goal scorer like Jordan Kyrou sitting in the press box on any given night. There are actual hard decisions being made as to who plays and on which line.
There’s been plenty of years in the past where guys were playing up too high in the chart. Now, you feel like several are playing too low.
This gives the Blues an advantage that will definitely help them overcome the high altitude. Of course, this depends on them all coming out and playing well as a unit.
Nevertheless, rolling four lines that can score and three defensive pairs that can both defend and join the rush will counterbalance the skill the Avs have. It gives the Blues their best shot at winning the first game of the year and plenty beyond.