After a great showing out of the gates in Games 1 and 2 of their first round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues were more disappointing in their first two away games, losing both due to the fact that they couldn’t generate enough offense to score even one goal in Game 3, and then failing to hold the comeback lead that they created in Game 4. Seeing as they have done so for each game of the series thus far, it would be expected that the Blues would change things up a bit lineup-wise for Game 5.
The biggest question tonight will once again be whether captain David Backes is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Since being leveled by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2, he’s been out, and his absence has definitely been felt by the offensively-challenged Blues. If he can return, he would provide a huge lift to the top line as well as solidifying things throughout the rest of the lineup.
After changing up the bottom forward lines throughout Game 4, coach Ken Hitchcock will probably be experimenting with them again. Especially if Backes is still out, some personnel changes may be in order. After getting back into the lineup for the last game, forward Derek Roy did not make much of an impact, getting only 10:43 of ice time, which was less than any player on the team besides enforcer Ryan Reaves. It’s difficult to say that the Blues displayed an optimum amount of physicality in Game 4, particularly when they allowed Patrick Kane to approach the net virtually untouched before scoring the game-winning goal in overtime. By switching out a finesse player like the 5-foot-9, 184-pound Roy for a more physical one like 6-foot-3, 208-pound Magnus Paajarvi or 6-foot-2, 196-pound Dmitrij Jaskin, the Blues could display a higher level of intensity while not seeing a huge drop off in the offensive attack.
We’ll know much more about the lineup following the Blues’ skate this morning. However, things could definitely change between then and gametime, particularly if Backes is ready to go tonight.
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