Crystal Ball: Discussing Possible Line Combinations
After a couple of days of non-stop news from the organization, the St. Louis Blues finally gave us some time to breath and take a look at the newly acquired players. Sitting here in the middle of July, the season still sits well down the road which allows us more than enough time to attempt to predict and hypothesize what roles skaters will assume and what lines the Blues might roll out. First things first - I don't like making predictions or giving analysis on topics unless they have some statistical backing. In other words, I don't like creating something out of nothing or generating news where there isn't any. That being said, when Jeremy Rutherford discussed what he thought might be the team's lines, it gives something to analyze and work off of rather than me sitting here dreaming up my own possible line combinations. From July 7th's chat, Rutherford indicated that he envisioned the lines to look as follows: Including David Perron McDonald-Backes-Perron Oshie-Berglund-Stewart Steen-Arnott-D'Agostini Sobotka-Nichol-Langenbrunner/Crombeen Excluding David Perron McDonald-Backes-D'Agostini Oshie-Berglund-Stewart Steen-Arnott-Langenbrunner Sobotka-Nichol-Crombeen Where should we look first? Obviously, we are all pulling for David Perron to make a full recovery prior to the 2011-12 season, but realistically, that seems to be a stretch at this time. With Perron, the depth is pretty fun to look at. D'Agostini shifts to the third line while the fourth line would feature two of the newly acquired players, Scott Nichol and Jamie Langenbrunner. In the scenario that Perron continues to miss time this season, the lines are jumbled around a bit. D'Agostini moves up to the first line, Langenbrunner goes from the fourth to the third, and Crombeen has a more permanent role. It's worth pointing out that in either scenario, Rutherford feels the Blues will maintain their second line consisting of T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart. When you look at the potential new lines on paper, it really gives a clear indication of the depth this team now has. Major injuries aside, the Blues won't have to continually make calls down to Peoria just to fill out the roster each night. Personally, I could see a situation where Chris Stewart is bumped up to the first line and once again paired with David Backes, but that will likely depend on who forms chemistry with who in the early stages of the year and which players come out of the gate firing compared to who comes out sputtering. Stewart seems like too talented of a player to have him sitting on the second line, though it does give the second unit quite a bit of punch. Once again, the depth on the squad is truly unprecedented compared to the last few seasons we've seen. Rutherford also mentioned in his piece that the Blues are finished adding pieces to their roster heading into training camp. He points out that the amount of depth should create some competition among players and (hopefully) bring out their best. This is a point worth savoring especially when you consider last season had numerous guys appearing in roles simply by default and not because they had earned it. What do you make of the proposed lines? Obviously this far off from the season a lot can change, but Rutherford's vision at least gives us something to work off of.