Let it not be said that St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube does not go with his gut. He makes changes as soon as he feels they are needed and so far, they’ve worked.
The latest possible change is putting Sammy Blais back into the lineup right away following his suspension. According to Berube’s comments with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it will be a game time decision.
If Blais is put back into the lineup, he will replace Kyle Clifford. This could be a fluid situation where Blais is utilized against the teams where a bruiser is not needed as much.
Blais is not a small guy, but Clifford has a little more size. He’s also known for more of the proverbial sandpaper to his game. Blais is just a fireball shooting around.
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Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Berube switches them back and forth depending on the opponent, or if Blais gets most of the looks if he’s healthy. Time will tell.
The intriguing part of this story is how things have turned around for Blais from an outsider perspective. Blais seemed as though he was on the outside, looking in, for most of the preseason.
He was rarely practicing with the top 12 forwards. Most would agree that Blais was going to be on the taxi squad to start the season if Mike Hoffman did not have visa problems.
Being inserted into the lineup immediately would indicate two possible things. One possibility is that Berube is not happy with the defensive work of his forwards. Clifford has not been bad, but Blais has a little more speed and also has versatility to play elsewhere up in the lineup if Berube needs to send a message to someone else during the game.
Another possibility is to reward Blais and send a message to the NHL. Berube likes the kind of edge that Blais has shown physically. So, he would send a message to both the player and the league that the coach does not agree with the suspension and is not punishing the player any more than the two games.
Both are quite likely. Again, this will be decided at game time, but do not be surprised to see number nine in the lineup.