Central NHL

Blues Show Depth Amidst Covid

Blues Show Depth Amidst Covid
Charlie Lindgren was one of just a few players the Blues called up during a series of covid cases and injuries. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an obvious fact that covid is still causing issues around the world let alone in the NHL. The Blues did show depth amidst their covid outbreak recently though. As a team, they stuck together and fought their way through not just covid but multiple injuries that plagued some of their key players. Since October 21st, they have had 7 players go down with this illness. That along with their injuries has created many challenges for the front office and coaches. Picking lines and who to call up is never an easy task. It appears that since November 24th the Blues can’t keep a full team of standard starters. The success of the players they’ve called up from their affiliate team, the Springfield Thunderbirds, has kept them in striking distance of the division leaders.

Since December Started

As of right now all of the Blues players are clear of covid protocols. That’s not to say we couldn’t see more come up soon. Even being down so many men, the Blues put together an adequate start to December. In their 7 games, they pulled out 10 of a possible 14 points. This was accomplished while being down both goalies. Jordan Binnington tested positive on December 2nd and then Ville Husso went down with an injury on December 7th. On top of being down their goalies they were without one of their best defensemen in Justin Faulk. His positive test on December 2nd kept him out until their game on the the 14th of December. Meanwhile their generally explosive offense was without some key players. James Neal has been on IR since November 24th, Klim Kostin and David Perron have been on IR since November 26th. Robert Thomas was added to the IR list on December 6th as well.

The Call Ups

With so many sidelined players you’d think that didn’t leave them with too many options. Fortunately, Doug Armstrong has set this team up for success with the ability to call on their AHL team. Dakota Joshua is one of the many that has been up and down from the Thunderbirds this season. During his sometimes short-lived stints with the NHL squad, he has tallied 1 goal and 3 assists in 15 games played. Another player called upon has been Logan Brown. Previously assisting Ottawa, the left winger has played in 8 games for the Blues and has 2 goals and 3 assists for them. Maybe the best offensive call up has been Nathan Walker. Picking up 4 goals and one assist, this Australian forward made his mark on his first game up this year when he got a hat trick.

It’s wonderful to know you can call up some young offensive talents but what is even better is knowing you have some brick walls waiting to put in the net. Both Binnington and Husso are down, leaving the Blues fans to wonder how they could fair without their top two goalies. The Blues signed Jon Gillies as a free agent on December 8th. In his one game with the team he picked up a win while allowing three goals. He played backup though to the man known as Chucky. Charlie Lindgren was called up on December 2nd when Binnington tested positive. Little did they know then how important he would be over the next stretch of games. With Husso getting injured, Charlie jumped in mid-game and picked up his first win for the Blues. He’s since started 3 more games and has only allowed 4 goals and boasts a .956 save percentage.

The Short Of It

As annoying and difficult as it is to watch your team continually lose players to covid and injuries, it can be reassuring at times that you’re in good hands. Armstrongs ability to find confident and capable youth players has allowed his team to continue to play outstanding hockey while being down 8 or more regular faces. It goes to prove that if you want to create a dynasty you need to lock in the future before the present. There are players in their farm system that were able to step up into the big team and make it look like the team hasn’t missed a beat. The future looks really bright for the Blues and for their farm team.

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