There’s a St. Louis Blues game today.
No, really. It’s here. For the first time in 4 months and twelve days, the Blues will take the ice against another NHL team and a play a game in which a winner will be determined. The Blues will travel to Dallas this afternoon to take on the Stars in a 7:30 PM face-off. Weird, right?
After what felt like a quiet offseason, it can be difficult to believe there were a lot of changes. And yet the building has been revitalized, the team has been updated, and the organization finds itself helmed by a fresh coaching staff that’s eager to prove its ability.
The young players in camp have the same eagerness. Tage Thompson, Vince Dunn, and Jake Walman will all play this evening. All three find themselves in the thick of competing for NHL jobs after Jay Bouwmeester (fractured ankle, 3 weeks) and Zach Sanford (dislocated shoulder, 5-6 months) suffered injuries in camp.
Thompson may well have already been on his way to making the team. Even including Sanford and Sam Blais, another early surprise the Blues were basically attempting to whittle 17 forwards down into 14 slots. Sanford is injured, Blais may need seasoning, and Oskar Sundqvist has been unimpressive. Thompson, therefore, finds himself on the right pace.
For Walman and Dunn, the odds were longer. All seven defensemen who finished last season with the Blues are returning to this year’s team, in addition to newcomer Nate Prosser and enigmatic perma-prospect Petteri Lindbohm. Dunn and Walman, then, may have felt like they were in competition with each other for the tenth slot on the depth chart. With Bouwmeester almost certain to miss the start of the season, the calculus changes.
Mackenzie MacEachern has been impressive. Vladimir Sobotka is shepherding Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. Klim Kostin has been quiet. Each of these players represents an interesting storyline to watch careful as tonight’s game unfolds.
Most importantly, however, there is a Blues game this evening. It’s the first of five in six days, and it’s a marker that the time for excitement is now.