By now, most St. Louis Blues fans know about the team’s altered schedule. They will play two more games against the Arizona Coyotes on February 6 and 8.
Arizona was meant to fly home after their 4-3 win over the Blues on February 4. Despite a strong final four minutes by the Blues, the Coyotes seemed to be headed toward a happy flight.
Instead, the league told them they would remain in St. Louis. The two teams will now play two more games in the gateway city this weekend.
There were a handful of fans that disliked the decision. Their main gripe was if the Blues continue playing now, they might sit idle later when other teams are trying to make up their games.
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However, given the situation, this was the smartest decision by the league. Seeing as how Arizona was meant to play Minnesota and the Blues were going to face Colorado this weekend, it made sense to take the opponents of the teams in covid protocol and have them play one another.
The fact those teams were already in the same city, playing one another, was just a very useful coincidence. Even if the Blues had not been playing Arizona, this scenario would still have been smart.
The league also gains options for the rest of the schedule. While Minnesota and Colorado have games against San Jose and Anaheim, respectively, on March 29 and 31, by clearing those dates for St. Louis and Arizona, the league has wiggle room.
There is no doubt this will cause further shuffling among the schedule. I do not envy the schedule makers, since every move will cause moves elsewhere.
For example, maybe you just keep the Anaheim Ducks in St. Louis and do another four-game series to end March now that the 29th and 31st have opened up for St. Louis and they play the Ducks prior to those dates. You could then potentially use the open dates in May to move other games around.
None of it will be easy. Unfortunately, very few of the opponents involved have open dates on the potential dates created, but it’s all part of this process. The NHL knew this was a possibility, so they’ll have to reshuffle the built in off weeks.
From the Blues perspective, it’s better to keep playing than have an artificial week off. While St. Louis looks fatigued in the second games of the two-game sets, most players will tell you they’d rather press through rather than have an extended break.
Additionally, you’re getting good goaltending. You don’t want to put any rust on Jordan Binnington unnecessarily.
If the Blues lose the next two games, of course it will get second guessed. In the grand scheme, it is good to not give the Blues and Coyotes nearly a week off and also create open dates where things can be moved.