St. Louis Blues Lines Could Be In Disarray Without Ryan O’Reilly

Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Blues fans were flying high after the team beat the Los Angeles Kings on October 25. The team had started out 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, the offense was clicking and most of the wins had come smoothly.

The Blues continued to win despite Brandon Saad being put on covid protocol and also Pavel Buchnevich serving a two-game suspension. It won’t be so easy to overcome the latest setback.

St. Louis announced that team captain Ryan O’Reilly would join Saad on the covid list. Team beat writer Lou Korac was one of the first to announce that O’Reilly would not be returning soon.

The odd thing about this is the timing. Saad had already missed two games, so it seems odd that O’Reilly suddenly got the bug.

Additionally, given the fact that O’Reilly played on the 25th, you have to wonder if anyone else will end up in protocol. We had better hope not. It will be bad enough missing the captain and top center for four games.

Without O’Reilly, the Blues are going to shift from one of the better faceoff teams in the league to one that may struggle. O’Reilly had been winning over 66% of his draws.

It also throws the line combinations into disarray. The top line will likely look completely different when the Blues hit the ice against the Colorado Avalanche on the 28th and the 30th against the Chicago Blackhawks.

There is a small chance Saad may be back to face one of his former teams. Against the Avs, anything is possible for line combinations.

The issue the Blues currently have is that they favor keeping pairs together. It’s been O’Reilly and David Perron together all five games so far.

Their other winger has varied from Klim Kostin to James Neal with occasional appearances by Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev and Tyler Bozak. None of those guys have enough chemistry to stay with Perron exclusively, so suddenly Perron is a man on the outside looking in.

Perron could stay on the top line and have two men elevated to the top trio. In that scenario, you would probably see Perron with Brayden Schenn and Buchnevich.

The Blues might slide Perron “down” though. If that happened, it could see Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko put on the second line with Perron.

Kyrou would stay with Schenn and Buchnevich. The third line would become a hodgepodge. Barbashev or Bozak would take over the center role there, with any number of winger possibilities.

Whoever did not center the third line might be the fourth center, or the Blues could insert Dakota Joshua as the fourth-line center. Or, none of that could happen and Craig Berube might pull a purple and green bunny out of his hat that nobody saw coming.

Of course, you hope for O’Reilly’s health first and foremost. From a purely hockey driven perspective, this is a blow though.

Chemistry was part of the driving force to get the Blues off to a hot start. While O’Reilly is not the be all, end all of the team, missing your top center really throws a wrench into the works.

Duos may be split up and what felt like a deep roster will suddenly be challenged up the middle.

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The Blues may very well overcome this and keep on winning. From a fan point of view, it’s disappointing to see the depth and cohesion of this team tested so early, especially due to something we are all tired of hearing about.