As the St. Louis Blues held their morning skate in preparation for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks, the team showed off a few changes in their lineup for the first time.
The most prominent development was the absence of captain David Backes from the workout, though that does not necessarily mean he will miss the game tonight. Backes, who was knocked out by a headshot from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2, flew with the team and was considered to have a good chance at playing tonight, so it was a bit surprising that the Blues did not have him on the ice to begin their Wednesday routine. If Backes has a concussion, which would be the assumption of any logical person who saw the hit he sustained, he could still be failing baseline tests that he needs to pass in order to get back on the ice. This same issue presumably was a factor in T.J. Oshie’s absence for Game 1 of the Blackhawks series.
Forward Brenden Morrow, who missed Game 2 with a foot injury but returned for Game 3, was not on the ice and has been declared out for the rest of the series by coach Ken Hitchcock. With his age and decreased level of performance, it’s not the worst thing for the Blues to have Morrow out of the lineup.
With that said, fellow veteran Derek Roy is scheduled to take his place in Game 4 if Backes does not return. The undersized Roy, who will start at left wing if the practice lines stay the same, showed a better style of play in Game 2 than he had over the majority of the regular season, so if he can keep building on that success he should be fine. But it would be a definite negative for the Blues if he performs more similarly to how he did during the regular season, where he didn’t generate any offense yet was not aggressive on the boards either.
The other change the Blues made was the swap of Ryan Reaves and Adam Cracknell between lines three and four. While their respective performances merited the change, this is a risky move for the Blues. Cracknell has always seemed to play his best when he’s been in tandem with left wing Chris Porter. By breaking up that line, the Blues risk his performance falling off as well as a decreased amount of offense from the fourth line, which has been their most valuable asset to this point in the series. While it would seem to be a rather insignificant change at face value, this could be a move that has big effects if things don’t work out right.