MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Having just gotten through the easiest 23-man roster selection maybe in NHL history, the Blues held their first actual practice of the season, with everyone, plus the rehabbing Jordan Kyrou, on the ice at Centene Community Ice Center.
With there having been little or no suspense about who would actually make the roster -- there was a brief flurry of Klim Kostin action midway through camp, but that died down and he'll start the season in San Antonio -- the focus instead shifted to who would be where. And the final result, at least at the start, was that Sammy Blais won out and will start the season as the left wing on a line with Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron. The other first 12 sweepstakes winner was Robby Fabbri, who is moving in to Pat Maroon's spot to the left of Tyler Bozak. Mackenzie MacEachern and Zach Sanford were the extra forwards.
"I thought he had a great summer for sure," coach Craig Berube said of Blais. "You know, him coming into camp and the way he’s played. He obviously put the work in in the summer which is great. He’s the type of player I think that over the last three years I’ve seen improve every year. He keeps improving, which is a good thing."
Meanwhile, on defense, Carl Gunnarsson was the odd-man out.
Here's how the Blues lines and pairings looked on Day 1 of practice.
Also intriguing was the team's power-play units. On one, the Blues had the Schenn line, plus Vince Dunn and Robert Thomas. On the other was O'Reilly, Perron, Tyler Bozak, Alex Pietrangelo and Justin Faulk.
For those paying attention to these things, that first unit -- it doesn't appear that the team considers one or the other of them the first or second unit -- is all left-handed shots except for Thomas. The other unit is all right-handed except for O'Reilly. This is not by accident.
"The one with like Petro and Faulk and Perron, they can all really shoot it and one-time pucks," Berube said. "So with O’Reilly on the goal line, he’s got a lot of options. Looking at Bozak in the slot, righthanded. And Petro and Faulk up top. It’s a shooting power play for sure, guys that can shoot the puck.
"And then the other one is a little bit more of a downhill power play the way we look at it with the lefties. It’s the way we put them together right now and we’ll see how they work out."
WITH THIS RING
The Blues players and staff will receive their Stanley Cup rings at a team dinner on Monday night.
Tage Thompson, who the Blues sent to Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, was sent down to the minors on Monday ahead of the Tuesday deadline for team's cutting their rosters to 23 players. ... Tampa Bay put Brayden Schenn's brother Luke on waivers to send him to the AHL. ... FYI: Everyone on the Blues' season-opening roster except for Robert Thomas has to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. ...