The St. Louis Blues could get a rather significant boost to their lineup in Game 4 of their playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks, as captain David Backes looks to be on track to be ready to return from the injury that kept him out of Game 3.
It was a good sign that Backes flew with the team to Chicago prior to Game 3, meaning that there was at least a chance that he would play in one of the two road games. While nothing’s a certainty, especially if Backes’s injury is a concussion and he is being required to pass baseline tests to return, it would seem to be a better than 50 percent chance that he will play on Wednesday.
Backes coming back will hopefully provide a boost to a Blues offense that was literally nonexistent in their 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks on Monday. At the moment, it’s not clear who would come out of the lineup if he is healthy enough to return. Aside from rapidly-improving second-year player Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ best forwards during this series have arguably been fourth-liners Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter, and Maxim Lapierre, so it would not really make sense to take any of them out of the lineup. With that said, none of them produced any points last game, so they have nothing locking them in for Game 4.
A prime candidate for removal would probably be veteran Brenden Morrow, who sat out Game 2 and was basically a non-factor in Game 3. Enforcer Ryan Reaves also was very quiet during the road loss, only registering one hit through 4:52 of ice time. With the fourth line and gritty forward Steve Ott providing toughness on the boards, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to sit Reaves down for Game 4.
We’ll know much more about Backes’s situation as the Blues go through their morning skate today, and it should all be cleared up by the time the team comes out onto the ice for warmups later tonight.