The old saying goes that you have to adapt or die. The St. Louis Blues might be taking that a little too literally right now.
After about the first week or two of the 2021 season, it feels like the entire thing has just been one adaption after another. If games are not being moved around, then players are shifting spots or are out of the lineup.
Roster tweaks are a constant thing in hockey. Whether that’s due to a coach trying to change up the flow mid-game or simply being mad at the effort of someone, lines change all the time.
It’s less fun when those changes are forced by injury. St. Louis has overcome quite a few obstacles on the injury front, but unfortunately they have not found smooth sailing just yet.
Colton Parayko has been one of the players fans have kept a close eye on. Ever since he sustained an injury early in the season, he has just not looked quite right.
His skating has not been fluid or powerful. Though he has gone through ups and downs with his offense, there is even more reluctance to shoot now, as though the motion itself causes discomfort.
The Blues had been holding him out of optional skates and even some regular practices. Now, they’ve gone one step further and he is out of the lineup for the February 18 game against San Jose.
Without knowing the injury to start with, there is no knowing if that might be a one-game issue or more. It’s impossible to know regarding most of the injuries with the Blues at the moment.
In fact, the condition of Tyler Bozak was the only one we got a “definitive” comment on. Craig Berube stated that Bozak was a “ways away,” which is not what you want to hear from a coach known to simply deflect many questions.
Jaden Schwartz continues to be listed as day-to-day. Publicly, he will be a game-time decision almost every night, but the Blues might be cautious with him. On the game broadcast against Arizona, they stated that Schwartz could go if there was a game 7 to be played that night, but they don’t want to rush it.
The forwards have been the hardest hit. Beyond Schwartz and Bozak, the Blues are without Robert Thomas (thumb) and Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder). At this point, we might see Tarasenko before Thomas, though there is no hard evidence of that.
The Parayko news was disappointing beyond just losing one of their top defenders. The Blues had Torey Krug and Marco Scandella ready to return to the lineup. Instead of rubbing your hands together and saying let’s go, it was more a drop of the shoulders and saying “Oh, come on”.
Just when we thought it was evening out, with players back and games scheduled, there’s one more hiccup.
The one good thing about all this is that the Blues are starting to resemble the 2018-19 team. While their injuries did not all come at once, they still had that all important next-man-up mentality.
It’s taken a bit, especially with new faces on the team just like in 18-19, but this team is getting there. They have no choice, really.
Adapt or die. There’s no room in a shortened season for the latter option, so adapt they have and must continue.