On Friday, the Blue Jackets prospects routed the Dallas Stars in a 7-2 win. They followed that up with a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, a win that guaranteed them a spot in Tuesday's championship game in Traverse City.
Upon reading that, you may consider Monday's game against the St. Louis Blues (3 p.m. at Centre Ice Arena) to be immaterial. Now that we've got you reading, let's ignore the notion of a game that doesn't matter and continue talking about the game.
The Blues have brought a quality team to the NHL Prospects Tournament, one that includes recent first-round picks Tage Thompson and Robert Thomas (2016) and Klim Kostin (2017). Kostin was the Blues' selection with the 31st overall pick, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Ryan Reaves.
Here's what to watch for...
St. Louis has had an up-and-down week in Traverse City to this point, scoring 12 goals and allowing 12 in its first two games. The Blues surrendered a huge third-period lead against Dallas on Friday before rallying to beat Minnesota in overtime on Saturday, so this game means something for them and their title aspirations.
Blue Jackets/Monsters coach John Madden went with Ivan Kulbakov on Saturday night after Matiss Kivlenieks in the tournament opener -- giving him a close-up look at the two goaltenders who will likely spend the season in Cleveland. Kivlenieks was solid on Friday in the win over Dallas, and Kulbakov showed off his quickness and poise on Saturday against Minnesota. If it's purely a goaltending rotation for the four games (as the Blue Jackets have done in the past), then Kivlenieks should start on Monday vs. St. Louis. If not, well, we'll just have to wait and see how it shakes out.
ALL THE WAY TO THE FINISH
The Blue Jackets have brought the bulk of their hockey operations and amateur scouring staffs to Traverse City for the NHL Prospects Tournament, and there are several pairs of watchful eyes keeping tabs on every player throughout the week. There's no reason for anyone to let off the gas pedal, particularly with the higher-end prospects looking to build their case for next week's main camp, but with a relatively meaningless game coming up, it will be something to watch. There could be lineup changes, too, with Madden getting some guys into different situations and with different line mates, just to keep things fresh.