The answer may… not shock you.
Last night’s game wasn’t exactly a comedy of errors, but there were some glaring mistakes that led to the Blues frittering away a quick lead and a much needed win. Justin Faulk, Mike Hoffman, Colton Parayko – all of them made errors that led either to a power play goal or a turnover (though with Parayko’s puck over the glass penalty, I do think that there’s always room to argue if it should even be a penalty to begin with).
One player, though, stands out as a momentum killer. He’s not always one, but when he commits a turnover, you can practically predict what’s going to come next.
You’ll never guess who it is.
Awful, awful turnover by Zach Sanford, Colorado cashes in. 1-1. #stlblues
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) April 23, 2021
Zach Sanford makes it really difficult to be a Zach Sanford apologist. #stlblues
— Jeff Ponder (@jponder94) April 23, 2021
You guys should take Zach Sanford from the Blues in the expansion draft. Future 40 goal guy.
— Donny (@donnybubble) April 23, 2021
Thankfully, Robert Thomas’ short time off is coming to an end on Saturday afternoon.
Robert Thomas likely returning Saturday according to Berube #stlblues
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) April 22, 2021
As Jeremy Rutherford mentions in his The Athletic piece (subscription required), there are a few forwards who have been struggling. Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou are two who the team needs more out of – their games without a goal droughts are well into the double digits. Do they get a message sent Saturday?
To be quite frank, if Berube sits someone with the potential for goal scoring right now over someone with a propensity for creating goals for the other team, it’s madness. Yes, the team needs more scoring, especially in the second period. Sitting people who can provide that scoring, even if they’re not currently doing it, doesn’t fix that problem. Sitting players who are causing momentum-deflating turnovers is a punitive measure that doesn’t penalize the team.
Zach Sanford needs to sit.
Berube didn’t reference him specifically when he discussed the play that lead to Colorado’s first goal when he talked about a “soft play,” but everyone knew who he meant.
Sanford’s on the fourth line now, playing his way down the lineup. He’s got the potential to be a perfectly useful player, and he can score, but his effort hasn’t been there. That lack of effort has lead to sloppy play, and that sloppy play led to a deflating goal last night.
I don’t like piling on any one individual, as every loss is a team effort, but if you can mitigate those bad team efforts, you do it. Right now, Sanford is not the catalyst for positive play; he’s the opposite.
There’s a Greek chorus of writers and fans, from Jeremy Rutherford to half of Twitter, who would like to see Sanford be the odd man out on Saturday afternoon. If he’s not, and he clearly contributes to another loss, fans’ll be warranted if they channel their inner Cassandra and say “we told you so.”