The Blues have two more pre-season games a smidge more than a week to figure out their forward corps. Everyone knows who the defense is going to be. Joel Edmundson and Jani Hakanpaa are still around, which is more a testament to how well they've been playing this pre-season than anything else.
The real issue is the fact that the team has Keith Aucoin, Adam Cracknell, Dimitrij Jaskin, Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves, Maxim Lapierre, and Brenden Morrow all competing for spots on the third and fourth lines. Ty Rattie is hanging around, too, though he (and Jaskin, too) aren't fourth-liners. Signing Morrow has created quite the log jam for the team. Morrow won't play tonight against the Minnesota Wild, but already Hitchcock is confident about the Blues' toughness and compete level - and it's hard not to assume that he's including Morrow in this:
"When I first got here there were guys you had to hide on the ice. You don’t have to do that anymore. We’ve got people who can play against anybody. That’s depth," insists Hitchcock, entering his third season as Blues coach while enjoying his first full training camp here. "You’re not afraid to put guys on the ice anymore because they’re going to get overwhelmed. That happens with maturity. I think that’s why we’re better. We’ve got more players who can play against more top players."
Morrow certainly is one of those guys. The Blues are going to have to make decisions shortly. While I don't envy Hitchcock and Doug Armstrong these decisions, I also think that the amount of depth and what the team has to choose from is nothing but a positive. It's been a while since they've been able to claim that.
Here's tonight's line-up in Minny, from the official site:
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Dmitrij Jaskin
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Elliott, Halak, and Jake Allen are in a goalie deathmatch for starting time. Allen was excellent Saturday night, but so far all three of the goalies are playing like it's the preseason. Hopefully tonight they'll be more in regular season form.