The Blues have hit their first losing streak of the season with back to back losses against the Islanders and Flames this week. While it’s not cause for alarm (though it’s also not something that needs to be shrugged off, either, considering the quality of the defeats), it’s also an opportunity to evaluate the lines outside of the top six. Beau Bennett was so rough last night against Calgary that it earned him a ticket to Chicago. Unfortunately, the team’s third line isn’t anywhere close to picking up any offensive slack, Bennett or no. Dmitrij Jaskin has five points (1G, 4A). Magnus Paajarvi has three (2G 1A). Oskar Sundqvist has 2 (2 assists).
It’s no secret that Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and Jaden Schwartz are leading this team in offense, and thank God for that. The team’s second line with Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Sobotka is also playing fine. But tertiary scoring doesn’t exist, and you can’t expect a team to continue the entire season playing at the level that the Blues began this year at without a third line that can contribute more than once every few games.
Luckily, big center Patrik Berglund is getting closer to his return. Berglund (and Jay Bouwmeester) traveled with the team to Canada this week so they could continue to participate in team skates. Berglund will be re-evaluated when the Blues return, which may put him a little ahead of schedule for coming back.
This means that Sundqvist needs to pick up the pace, or else he’ll be out of a job.
Actually, let me rephrase that: Sundqvist will be out of a job.
Berglund had 23 goals and 11 assists last year. Bergie parlayed that career season into a five year extension with a NMC valued at $3.85 million a season. Hopefully his presence will rejuvenate two other third line players who weren’t exactly offensive powerhouses last season. Frankly, they were both fairly mediocre.
Berglund is a step up for the Blues over Sundqvist, no doubt. But unless they do something about the wings on the third line, the top six’s burden won’t get any lighter, and that’s concerning over the course of the season. No one expects the third line to score like the first, but them scoring once in a while would be some nice support.