VANCOUVER, B.C. — First it was Oskar Sundqvist, then Robert Thomas. Sammy Blais took a whirl for three games, and now it’s back to Thomas as the auditions continue for Vladimir Tarasenko’s spot on the Blues’ top line.
Thomas was on the Brayden Schenn line, along with first-line regular Jaden Schwartz during practice Monday afternoon at Rogers Arena, and it looks as if that’s how they’ll line up in Tuesday’s 9 p.m. contest (St. Louis time) with the Vancouver Canucks.
“It should be another good test for me,” Thomas said. “I think I’ve kept on building and building throughout the year. The game against Detroit and kind of halfway through last game, I started to build something with them. So it’ll be a good challenge for me to step up and help them produce.”
Thomas in essence switched spots with Blais on Saturday, against Minnesota, as that game progressed. Blais’ big game-tying goal came in the third period after being switched to the Tyler Bozak line. And that’s where Blais was Monday, with Bozak and Alexander Steen on the third line.
“I thought 18 (Thomas) added a little juice to that (Schenn) line,” coach Craig Berube said. “He was on top of the puck. . . . We’ll see how it goes (Tuesday). I’m not sold on anything yet. Like I said, it could be an ongoing (thing), just finding things, moving guys around.
“But I don’t see why that 10-17-18 (Schwartz-Schenn-Thomas) can’t be a good line. Robert Thomas, he can distribute the puck and hang onto it, make plays. Those guys, they can hopefully get some goals.”
Thomas said he’s already picked up some tendencies in the play of Schwartz and Schenn.
“Both of them are so smart and skilled,” Thomas said. “For me, I notice the couple periods I played with them that if I find that little bit of space the puck will end up on my stick. It’s just about being ready for that.
“When I have the puck in the (offensive) zone, they’re always finding space. I’m starting to figure out where they tend to like to go. And once you kind of figure that out, it’s pretty easy. You know where to look.”
No callupThere’s no replacing Tarasenko. Literally.
At least that was the case Monday.
It was anticipated, maybe even expected, that there would be a player promoted from San Antonio to join the Blues in Vancouver. But it didn’t happen. The Blues skated with 22 players Monday, one under the roster limit since Tarasenko went to the long term injured reserve list following shoulder surgery a week ago.
When asked if there was a San Antonio player en route Monday, Berube said: “Not that I know of. I don’t know. We’re just waiting to see what happens right now.”
Such a decision ultimately falls on general manager Doug Armstrong. But with one extra forward (Robby Fabbri) and one extra defenseman (Robert Bortuzzo) on the roster, the Blues might not add a player on this trip.
“We got one and one, so we’re fine,” Berube said. “Extra at forward, extra ‘D’ right now. So we’ll be OK.”
BluenotesThings went well for Jordan Kyrou in his long-awaited season debut for San Antonio. In his first game since kneecap surgery last spring, Kyrou had two assists in Saturday’s 8-2 Rampage victory over the rival Texas Stars in the American Hockey League.
• Nikita Soshnikov, who was on the Blues’ roster at this time last season, is playing in the Kontinental Hockey league and flourishing. Playing for Salavat Yulaev, he had two goals in Sunday’s 9-1 romp over Dinamo Minsk and leads the KHL with 14 goals in 25 games this season.
• The Blues easily had their worst faceoff night of the season against Minnesota, winning only 39 percent (23 of 59). Even so, they remain the NHL’s fourth-best faceoff team this season. with a 52.7 percent success rate.