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Blues' depth will be tested now that NHL has knocked Sundqvist out of Game 3

Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Hockey

ST. LOUIS -- Next to goalie Jordan Binnington, there has been no greater out-of-nowhere success story for the Blues this season than forward Oskar Sundqvist.

That success story was put on hold Thursday evening, when the NHL's Player Safety department announced that Sundqvist was suspended for one game as a result of a boarding penalty incurred in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.

Sundqvist will miss Game 3 Saturday at Enterprise Center as the Blues play their first home game in a Cup Final since 1970.

"The league has made their decision, and now we need to prepare for Game 3," general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch via text message. "Depth has been a strength of this team, and I am confident that whoever Craig (Berube) taps to go in will be more than prepared for the task at hand."

The next man up appears to be Zach Sanford, who has been a healthy scratch for the last 18 games in this Blues playoff run. Sanford hasn't played since Game 3 of the Blues' Round 1 series against Winnipeg on April 14.

Sanford grew up in the Boston area and played hockey at Boston College, so playing in the Stanley Cup against the Bruins obviously would be special.

 

As Armstrong mentioned, one of the hallmarks of this Blues team is superior roster depth; it has helped get them this far. But playing a game without Sundqvist, and possibly Robert Thomas and Vince Dunn as well, will test that depth.

"Yeah, absolutely," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "I think we have great personnel here. We have so many guys who can step in and do the job. Obviously, it's tough losing key players like that. But we're confident. We've got a great group here and (have) so many guys who are able to step in and make an impact."

Sundqvist, 25, had a breakout regular season with 14 goals and 17 assists in 74 games. He had only two goals and seven assists in 70 previous NHL games with St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

During the playoffs, Sundqvist has four goals, five assists and is tied for the team lead at plus-8. He also is a regular on the penalt- kill unit.

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