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Panthers at Blues Preview: Blues hamstrung by piecemeal roster

Between Covid-19 and injuries, it feels like the Blues are taking a beating from all sides.

NHL: Florida Panthers at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, the Blues won’t be icing a full roster tonight. They’ve done well as the roster’s been depleted, or as well as can be expected. They snagged two points from the Lightning last Tuesday before heading to Tampa Bay, losing Jordan Binnington and Justin Faulk, and then losing that game 4-2. They held their own through much of that game, but the stress of competing with a highly paired back roster was too much. They took the Panthers to a shootout before losing 4-3 to the (at the time) league’s best team.

Tonight, they get to see those Panthers again, only without Robert Thomas. Thomas aggravated an injury during that game and missed yesterday’s practice. Thanks to cap constraints, the Blues have to use an emergency call-up, and they have to wait a game before that player is available.

Tonight, the Blues will be icing ten forwards and seven defensemen out of necessity. Between Covid-19 and mounting injuries, they don’t have enough players available to ice a full game roster.

Thankfully, among the problems the Blues have been having, none of them are with the team’s backup goaltender, Ville Husso. Husso made 48 saves on 51 shots on Saturday afternoon. After the game, he had this to say about it:

“I need to step up and play at a good level every night. It’s nice to get some back-to-back games,” Husso said after Saturday’s matchup. “I haven’t played those for awhile. I think it’s easier for me to get dialed in right away for games when you play back-to-back games. It was a tight game, kind of disappointing. But (we got) one point. They’re a good hockey team, too, and we got one point so we need to look at the positive side.”

Those are good words for the fans to remember - look on the positive side. Much of how the Blues are playing isn’t necessarily indicative of where they are as a team, it’s where they are on players returning. It’s an evaluation of playing through adversity, and while it’s adversity that the league doesn’t want to address, it’s still good to see the team focusing on doing what they can to ride this stretch out. This stretch is probably going to last a bit longer, so really, there’s not much else anyone can do.

If the Blues can keep being aware of where the Panthers’ best players are, it would help limit chances. What would also help limit chances would be the defense, at least those who are healthy, working to limit shots on net. Husso was tremendous Saturday afternoon, but it feels more than unfair to expect him to continue to have to face fifty shots on net.