Roster and lineup starting to crystallize for Blues

Midway thru coaching camp and preseason, issues are starting to crystallize for the Blues’ roster and lineup.

Coach Craig Berube is lovely set on his most sensible six at ahead. On protection, accidents have principally made up our minds the highest 3 line pairings for him. And in purpose, the paintings of Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss has been exemplary: Both have performed the identical of 1 complete sport and allowed two targets apiece.

In the highest six, the Blues determine to open the season with Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko as one line.

When requested what he preferred about that line, Berube spoke back: “Last year they were pretty successful, right? They had a pretty good year together. I figure why not keep ’em together for now. We’ll see how it goes.”

All indicators level to Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou forming two-thirds of the opposite most sensible line. The most effective query is who joins Kyrou as one among O’Reilly’s wingmen: Brayden Schenn or Brandon Saad?

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How that query will get responded will assist resolve what the 1/3 line seems like in addition to the fourth line. Call it the trickle-down principle of hockey.

If Saad remains at the O’Reilly line, then Schenn is going down to the 1/3 line. If Schenn remains with O’Reilly, then it’s vice versa.

The main applicants for a third-line position are Saad/Schenn (select one), Ivan Barbashev, Logan Brown and Jake Neigbours. Whether it’s Saad or Schenn, that implies 4 gamers for 3 third-line spots. The extraordinary guy out drops to the fourth line. (Keeping in thoughts, after all, Saad or Schenn will fall no additional than the 1/3 line.)

Berube has stated previously that Brown’s talent set doesn’t actually mesh smartly with a fourth line position.

General supervisor Doug Armstrong stated simply a few weeks in the past that if Neighbours doesn’t make the 1/3 line, he’s almost certainly higher suited to play within the AHL in Springfield, the place he may log giant mins.

So in a way, is it 1/3 line or bust for Brown and Neighbours? We’ll see. If they each finally end up at the 1/3 line (with Schenn and Saad), that might put Barbashev at the fourth line. He’s spent numerous his NHL profession there and been efficient. But after his profession yr ultimate season — 26 targets, 34 assists — it could appear extraordinary to in finding him there.

These are all issues that Berube should sift thru ahead of the regular-season opener Oct. 15 towards the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We got four (preseason) games here to go, and it’s going to decide it,” he stated. “I don’t know. I think for me, there’s a little bit more to look at.”

Brown had 3 targets and one lend a hand over the Blues’ first two preseason video games. He hasn’t performed since however is scheduled to be again within the lineup Saturday when the Blues face the Dallas Stars in Independence, Missouri. Brown has been taking a look for his shot extra, and Berube likes his motion and skating within the offensive zone.

Neighbours has two targets and one lend a hand over 3 video games. He has been robust at the penalty kill, proven extra quickness up and down the ice and has dished out some giant hits — each within the preseason and on the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.

In the preseason opener towards Arizona, Neighbours hit Jan Jenik so laborious he knocked him out of his helmet. That led to the Coyotes attempting to get in some retaliatory hits towards Neighbours ahead of the sport ended.

“He’s playing really well for sure,” Berube stated. “He’s finds a way to get things done, whatever way you want to shape it. He’s involved physically around the net. He makes little plays all over the ice. He’s a very highly competitive player.”

On the fourth line, it sounds as if that Nathan Walker and offseason acquisition Noel Acciari are secure. The 1/3 spot may move to one of the crucial leftovers from the 1/3 line festival. But there’s additionally a mixture of freshmen and more youthful Blues combating for a fourth line spot, or what seems like two to be had spots as an additional: particularly, because the thirteenth and 14th forwards.

That team contains Klim Kostin, Josh Leivo, Tyler Pitlick and Matthew Highmore. So a ways, it seems like Leivo and Pitlick — who’s in camp on a PTO, or tryout foundation — have the threshold right here. Leivo, who scored two times Monday in Dallas, and the quick-skating Highmore are scheduled to play Saturday.

“He’s very good down low with the puck,” Berube stated of Leivo. “He makes subtle puck plays. He’s strong on the puck. And he’s got the ability to score a goal — like he scores in the minors. And he’s got good hands. He’s a smart player.”

The wild-card this is Alexey Toropchenko. Originally scheduled to be sidelined till past due November or early December following offseason shoulder surgical operation, Toropchenko seems to be approach forward of time table.

Once once more, he used to be observed doing touch paintings alongside the forums throughout Friday’s observe. Berube stated he has been cleared for some touch. Not complete touch however nonetheless a large step ahead in Toropchenko’s rehab/restoration.

“He’s participating in all the drills now,” Berube stated. “And we’ll just keep moving forward with him.”

On the blueline, it’s Nick Leddy-Colton Parayko, Torey Krug- Justin Faulk, and Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo. The accidents to Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich have taken the analysis out of this equation.

But now, Berube should come to a decision on a 7th defenseman. Calle Rosen seems like the frontrunner, however Berube is intrigued by way of children Tyler Tucker and Matthew Kessel.

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