After last nights stinker where the blues were badly outplayed by the struggling knights, GM Thompson said there will be changes. Sure enough, the lines in this mornings practice showed a few new wrinkles.
Although he has been the blues top performer to date with 14 points in 11 games, Scheifele finds himself demoted to the 2nd line. Although he and his line have generally done well, Scheifele has only 2 goals. Not what is expected of the Blues top rated scorer with a SC rating of 78. In his place is the struggling Couturier. Couturier has also had trouble finding the back of the net with only 2 goals and 5 points through the blues first 11 games. The Blues GM on the shakeup, "these two are supposed to be our top scorers. Scheifele has a 78SC rating and Couturier has a 77SC rating. They should have more than 4G combined. They are two of the biggest reasons for our early season struggles. Simply, we expect more. We hope this change in scenery and linemates gives them a little jolt."
Vlasic also finds himself moved up from the 2nd line to the first. Vlasic has fought through some early season injuries and has 3A's through 7 games. He should add a bit more scoring punch from the blueline. In another big move, it looks like the Blues have given up on scoring balance, moving their top-rated defenceman Petry from the 3rd line to the 2nd and demoting the economical Hunwick and his -5 rating to the 3rd line. GM Thompson on Petry, "Listen, he's our top-rated defenceman. We thought we could maximize his ratings by playing him on that 3rd line and special teams, he brought a lot of balance to that line, however, he just hasn't given us much so far. He has what? 2 assists in 10 games? Like our two big centers, he needs to do better. We hope this move to our top 4 brings out the best in him." The casualty of that move is veteran Matt Hunwick. He's already moved a few times between the 2nd and 3rd lines due to injury. So this is nothing new to him. Although economical with a 59SC and a 76 DF rating for only 775k, he's likely best suited to a bottom pairing role.
Resting for only the 2nd time this year, Jones will take a break and let backup Darling see some action. Jones has been nothing short of stellar so far this season with a .928 SV percentage and a 1.76 GAA. Even with sparkling numbers like that he's still only managed 3 wins in 10 starts due to the Blues early season goal scoring struggles. Darling will need to be up to the task.
The Blues hope to turn things around tonight vs the Wild. Look for an early afternoon start.