Something had to give after the Blues lost for the fourth time in a row Tuesday, and what it was was every line and defensive pairing.
In search of all sorts of things – defending, finishing, effort in general – coach Craig Berube moved just about everything around in preparation for the Blues’ game Thursday against surprising San Jose.
The Blues lined up on Wednesday like this:
- Jordan Kyrou-Ryan O’Reilly-David Perron
- Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko
- Brandon Saad-Oskar Sundqvist-Ivan Barbashev
- Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-James Neal
- Torey Krug-Colton Parayko
- Scott Perunovich-Justin Faulk
- Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo
- (Jake Walman-Niko Mikkola)
The only thing staying the same is that Walman and Mikkola look to be the healthy scratches again. The Blues plan an optional morning skate, so it’s unlikely any changes will be made unless someone becomes unavailable.
It’s a step up into the top nine for Sundqvist, who centered the fourth line in his first game back, which limited him to less than 10 minutes on the ice.
“I was thinking about things,” Berube said, “I wanted to put an identity line together. To me, that’s an identity line, a line that’s going to do the right thing, forecheck hard, play hard, be physical, hard on the other team, play against anybody. I thought they were good in practice today, too.”
O’Reilly and Perron are back together after three games apart, and for the first time with Kyrou on the left wing.
Defensively, the fairly constant pairing of Krug and Faulk have been split, with Perunovich moving up to the second pairing and Scandella dropping to the third with Bortuzzo. Scandella played only 15:39 Tuesday, his third straight game under 20 after being above it all but once in the first 12 games.
“A puck mover with a big defender,” Berube said of the Krug-Parayko combination. “That’s basically how I’ve got the D paired up right now.”
The Perunovich-Faulk combo joins two former Minnesota-Duluth players, Perunovich, called up to the NHL on Monday, is staying at Faulk's house. Berube thinks the off-ice relationship will help the on-ice relationship.
"Definitely," he said. "I think that Faulker really wants the kid to do well personally, and he has a personal side to him. I thought last night when they were together they did a good job and played well together."
As for snapping out of their slump, Berube is confident the team has the talent to do it.
"For sure. I think it's just about dialing in a lot of little things that are going on," Berube said, "and getting back to that team-first mindset that we had. I thought that going into camp and then through camp and out of camp, we had a real good start, I thought there was a real good team concept and guys were doing a lot of little things for each other out there and I just found that slipped a little bit. When you're losing some games where you think you should have won, maybe, and you played pretty well but you didn't find yourself on the winning side of things it's adversity and you've got to deal with it, and last night, I think we didn't do a good enough job dealing with that. I thought we just kind of went through the motions in the game.