Prior to Tuesday's battle with the Nashville Predators head coach Ken Hitchcock made a late lineup switch. Instead of Chris Porter on the fourth line, Hitch subbed in Ryan Reaves for some extra toughness.
Just like about every other decision he's made as the Blues head coach, Hitchcock was right. Reaves had seven hits and was just a physical force. Reaves played like Cam Janssen with a brain and hockey talent—always making the good hit, never just running around like a wild animal. Reaves has turned into not just a pretty good fourth-liner, but a pretty good hockey player.
While playing Reaves was a good decision, it was interesting that the choice for Hitch was between Reaves and Chris Porter. Left out of the discussion? B.J. Crombeen, who spent another game as a healthy scratch on a team that is still not 100 percent healthy.
Plucked off waivers from the Dallas Stars, Crombeen immediately forced his way into the Blues lineup as a fourth liner who could fight (not well, mind you, but he did it often). B.J. separated himself from the other fighters by killing penalties. Unlike the Janssen's of the world, B.J. was given prime short-handed minutes and becoming symbolic of the new NHL that doesn't need pure fighters.
Now? B.J. is just another fourth liner. He takes dumb penalties, doesn't score and is not a good fighter. Oh and he doesn't kill penalties any more. Take a look at the numbers.
|B.J. Crombeen's Time On Ice|
|Avg. Min Per Game||Avg. SH Min Per Game|
|2008-09||11:43||0:47 (15th on the Blues)
|2009-10||10:21||2:37 (6th on the Blues)
|2010-11||11:03||1:41 (7th on the Blues)
|2011-12||8:19||0:01 (24th on the Blues)
Forty four seconds—that's how much short-handed time Crombeen has played this season. Hitchcock has decided to give penalty kill minutes to guys like Patrik Berglund, David Perron and other skill players. Crombeen? He's a passenger, first watching the game from the bench and now the press box.
It's easy to see why Hitchcock made him a healthy scratch. He doesn't really bring anything to the team anymore. His March numbers are pretty, pretty awful—10 games played, no points, a minus-3 rating, 20 penalty minutes and only five hits. Everyone remembers his March 10, game against Columbus where he had three minors in the Blues win.
The simple fact is, Ryan Reaves does his intimidation job better. Patrik Berglund does his penalty kill job better. Chris Porter, of all people, does the agitating pest role better—he's had 32 hits in 10 March games with only seven penalty minutes and one minor. The question is, what does Crombeen do?
Everyone keeps talking about the roster decisions for the playoffs, but one is basically already made. Get comfy in the press box, Beej, you're gonna be there a while.