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Berglund and Bouwmeester are traveling with the Blues, nearing a return

The St. Louis Blues are going to have some pretty difficult decisions to make when Patrik Berglund and Jay Bouwmeester are ready to return to the lineup. That day sounds like it’s coming up in the near future as both Berglund and Bouwmeester are preparing to travel with the team on their upcoming Canadian road trip.

To be clear, neither player is expected to play during the road trip. However, both players are expected to skate and practice with the Blues rather than stay home and skate on their own.

Of the two, Berglund is the closest to returning. He was originally supposed to be back in December, but now a November return looks almost certain. Berglund should be fairly easy to reinsert into the lineup as the third line has been needing some assistance.

Bouwmeester is just now starting to practice and work on the ice, meaning his return is a bit further away. When he returns, the Blues will have to make the difficult decision on who to bench on defense. Vince Dunn is the youngest and newest member of the defensive unit, but he has reportedly been told he’ll be sticking with the team, suggesting the Blues will either roll with seven defensemen or rotate out other options depending on the matchup.

In summary, the Blues are about to have even more depth now that some of their injured players are returning. It’s a good situation to be in even if it means some tough decisions.

One thought on “Berglund and Bouwmeester are traveling with the Blues, nearing a return

  1. Given the tire fire that the bottom six has been pretty much all season to this point, Berglund can’t come back soon enough. Preferably, that will at least allow the team to return Chris Thorburn, perpetual possession tire fire, to the pressbox. It’s probably too much to ask that this would make the bottom six into two competent lines, given just how bad they’ve been to date, but things are certainly at the point that it can’t actively hurt.

    A general reminder here that the third line simply isn’t getting the job done: Upshall has 2G+5A=7P, Brodziak has 2G+4A=6P, playing with Thorburn, or whoever else, whose points don’t matter for the comparison. The current third line of Sundqvist (0G+2A=2P), Paajarvi (2G+1A=3P), and Jaskin (1G+4A=5P) doesn’t even compare, despite Jaskin having started the year filling out the second line instead. I’ve already said my piece on Jaskin, of course, and I think it says quite a bit that even his underwhelming output is equal to his two linemates combined. That Upshall and Brodziak are each individually out-pointing any of the nominal third-liners is cause for at least some concern (though, in fairness, they’re seeing roughly equal time on ice).

    As to the defense, it certainly seems unlikely that the player now being given time with Pietrangelo on the top pairing (Dunn) will draw out of the lineup on Bouwmeester’s return, provided that he maintains his current level of play. Again, my preference would be to pull the lowest possession player from amongst the D, which in this case is Carl Gunnarsson, the only Blues defenseman currently sub 50% at even strength Corsi (45.6, the next lowest being Bortuzzo at 50.7).

    In general, I’m against deploying the 11F/7D lineup, unless the coaching staff is then willing to do some double-shifting of Tarasenko and/or Schwartz, not unlike Chicago’s usage of (gag me) Patrick Kane for the past few years. And even then, I don’t think there’s any particular value in doing it from the point of view of the additional defensemen. (See also: Ottawa has been doing this recently, and the seventh D has been averaging something like five minutes of TOI per game. Why even bother?)

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